Illegal immigration reform not likely until borders are secure, Hatch says

Published: Friday, Feb. 4 2011 3:29 p.m. MST

With the Capitol in the background, farm workers from West Palm Beach, Fla., march and chant while attending a rally for immigration reform on the National Mall in Washington on Sunday, March 21, 2010.

Associated Press

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah legislators Friday wanted to know what Congress and Sen. Orrin Hatch in particular intend to do about illegal immigration.

"There's a lot of frustration," House Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, told the state's senior senator.

Hatch said he doesn't see the federal government doing anything about it until the nation's borders are secure.

"I think that would make people have to stand up and do something about the rest of the problems," Hatch told Utah's legislators. Until then, he said, little will happen.

Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake, challenged Hatch to use his clout to make something happen. "I am personally looking for you to lead," he said.

"I'll take your challenge and see what we can do," Hatch replied.

Hatch spoke briefly and fielded questions in both the Utah House and Senate during his annual visit to the Legislature. Illegal immigration isn't lawmakers only source of frustration with Washington.

Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, prefaced a question about the 10th Amendment with a speech about how the U.S. Senate has failed to preserve state sovereignty and protect states from federal mandates.

Hatch said he feels exactly the same way. "I agree with you that the 10th Amendment has been all but eviscerated in the country by the courts and the Congress," he said. The amendment provides that powers not granted to the federal government be left to the states.

Hatch said he supports the idea of states having the power to veto federal policies or laws they think are wrong, but doesn't see it having much of a chance in Congress.

Lawmakers also complained to Hatch about the national debt and runaway federal spending.

The senator said he will again try to get a balanced budget amendment passed.

"This time I think we have a chance of getting it through," he said. "The Congress of the United States is incapable of getting spending under control."

e-mail: romboy@desnews.com

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