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Park City • Providing undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship is vital to Park City Latinos who serve its ski and tourism industries, some city, county and Catholic officials said at a rally Tuesday designed to urge Rep. Rob Bishop to support immigration reform that includes it.
Bishop is among Republicans in Congress who are undecided on that question.
Bishop told The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday, "It's on the table for my consideration," and "I haven't ruled it out totally like some" who denounce it as amnesty for illegal immigrants and have vowed to block it.
But Bishop also said any support by him for a pathway to citizenship would come only on the condition of fixing border security first so "this is the last time that we have to address this issue so that we don't have to do it in another five or 10 years."
Park City Mayor Dana Williams sent a statement read by City Council member Liza Simpson at the rally, at St. Mary's of the Assumption Catholic Church, sponsored by a variety of pro-immigration groups hoping to sway Bishop, including Communities United, the Salt Lake Dream Team, and the Enriching Utah Coalition.
Williams noted that 25 percent of Park City's population now is Latino, both documented and undocumented, and said they are essential workers for its ski and tourism industry. "What I have seen in my tenure as mayor is an active, vibrant and essential element of this town becoming an accepted and respected segment of our community."
He said he and the City Council support including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. "As the Park City community continues to gain international recognition as a resort community, it is imperative that we add our collective voice to support fair and humane reform of the immigration system," Williams said.
Summit County Council member Dave Ure who as a Republican legislator passed a 2002 law allowing undocumented immigrants who graduate from Utah high schools to pay resident college tuition urged a "pathway to legalization," instead of citizenship, saying it scares conservatives less and has a better chance of passage.
Ure said as he talks to Latinos around Park City, he feels most want legalization so they can work without fear, but most would like to return eventually to their native countries.
"I think Congress will realize that by legalization, they probably … will stop a large majority of identity theft. They will collect more taxes, because if immigrants are able to obtain a work card, they won't be afraid to present it to their employer," he said.
Utah's Catholic Bishop John C. Wester also sent a statement read at the rally of about 75 people saying that he and U.S. Catholic bishops also support a pathway to citizenship.
"We have long-standing proof that the vast majority of undocumented people living in the United States want nothing more than to abide by our laws and create better lives for themselves, their spouses and their children. These are people who cut our lawns, serve in the restaurants, and help make tourists in the beautiful city of Park City feel at home," Wester said.
But he said they too often are abused by people who take advantage of their fear of being deported. "We must help our immigrants and not allow them to be victimized because of our broken immigration system," Wester said.