Complete responses of 3rd Congressional District candidate Chris Cannon to the Deseret Morning News questionnaire:
1. The House recently passed a bill to crack down on illegal immigration through tighter border security and tougher enforcement. Do you think this bill alone would be effective? Why or why not?
To answer that question effectively a number of variables such as recent reports that half of the 11 million illegals in the country are not border jumpers but rather people who have over-stayed their visas have to be taken into account. Yes, the House passed legislation will help, but it will not solve the entire problem facing our nation. The only way to prevent the problems associated with our current system is to scrap the immigration code and begin with a new system for immigrants who would like to come here legally through a guest worker program that allows us to track individuals so they cannot over stay illegally and melt into their surroundings without anyone knowing.
2. The Senate recently passed a bill that, along with enforcement, would grant many of the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants an eventual path to citizenship, along with creating new pathways for immigration. Do you think this bill alone would be effective? Why?
The Senate bill has some major problems besides the immediate path to citizenship. It has provisions related to prevailing wage and future Social Security payments for work done while people were illegal in status. I declined to cosponsor the House version of the Senate bill because of the numerous unintended consequences associated with the bill. Those provisions need to be changed and will be changed if we are to have an effective comprehensive immigration bill. The citizenship plan alone is not effective because it deals only with those who are here and not those who may come in the future. We need the border security and interior enforcement provisions of the House bill, and we absolutely need to learn from the mistakes of the past and deploy a new temporary guest worker program so those who will come here in the future are dealt with in a different manner than they are today.
3. What are the top three elements needed for an effective immigration reform?
I think there are four legs to a secure and workable immigration reform: border security, interior enforcement, tools for business compliance, and a workable guest worker program to allow for labor needs to be met legally.
4. President Bush has added National Guard troops to patrol the border with Mexico. What will be the most effective tools for securing the border, troops, walls, technology, and what should be done first?
Again, I don't believe any one action will be the answer. They all need to be deployed in a coordinated fashion. It is imperative we build a physical wall in certain areas, but technology is the ultimate answer. Today, a physical fence provides a deterrent, but it is not the only deterrent because a 21-foot ladder scales a 20-foot fence. With technology we can monitor border incursions and send the border patrol to the exact spot of an illegal crossing. Technology will be the best protection along our border but physical fences will help direct the flow into the areas that can be most effectively monitored by technology.
5. What is your definition of amnesty?
My definition is from the MERRIAM-WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY: the act of an authority (as a government) by which PARDON is granted to a large group of individuals. The same dictionary defines pardon as: 1 : Indulgence. 2 : the excusing of an offense without exacting a penalty. This definition was used in the legislative process in 1986 during consideration of the last immigration reform law and in the 1970s when President Carter granted amnesty to those who dodged the Vietnam draft. Both of those bills were called amnesty because they provided no penalty for breaking the law.
6. Do you think that allowing illegal immigrants a way to adjust their status is key to any workable immigration reform? Why?
Some will argue that the only way for individuals to adjust their status and come forward is if there is a carrot. For some, the carrotâ is citizenship. Others argue that the carrotâ is a change in status. I support an adjustment of status only if it includes meaningful penalties for illegal behavior. Otherwise, it is amnesty. But I don't agree with those who argue for the citizenship or bust. I believe there are people here illegally who want to do the right thing, and we need a program that identifies those who are willing to come forward and accept responsibility for breaking the law. That acceptance of responsibility should include both regular and monetary penalties, requirements to learn English, and enrollment in civics classes for those who wish to work in America. If someone wants to be in America and join our society, they must assimilate. Additionally, I am opposed to allowing anyone to cut ahead of those already patiently waiting in line to enter our great nation. Therefore, anyone who is here illegally and comes forward should not be placed ahead of others who are already waiting.
7. With regard to comprehensive immigration reform, what specifically should be done with the 12 million or more illegal immigrants in this country? Should they be forced to leave the United States? If so, is it feasible? How should that be done and how will it be funded and what process would you suggest for the return of some to the American workforce? If not, how could that be done without encouraging others considering illegal immigration from coming to the United States in hopes they'll be allowed to stay, too?
In retrospect many of the individuals who worked on the 1986 law said the failure of that law was not the amnesty, but rather the fact that it did nothing to manage the future flow of people into this country. By granting amnesty they encouraged others to come forward. The failure was that we had no program to regularize those who wanted to come into the country after the 1986 law. Immigrants were told to get into a line run by a government bureaucracy and to wait 10 or more years. Now, because of the federal government's failure, we are dealing with a larger population of illegal immigrants then ever imagined. A system needs to be established that allows those to come out of the shadows and be identified. Once they have been identified, they may have to go outside the country to get the proper work authorization. I don't think it is feasible to deport 11 million overnight. It could crush our economy because we would be removing consumers from the market, removing workers from jobs and we would have to spend billions of dollars for new police, detention facilities, and transportation. However, the economy could be protected with a reasonable process whereby workers could leave and return after a period of time has passed. Likewise, a reporting system that allows for flexibility will protect small businesses and family farms from collapsing. It will allow employers to work with the government to make sure reporting requirements are not overly burdensome and at the same time compliance with the law is not only possible, but realistic.
8. Utah has a law that provides in-state tuition to illegal immigrants who attended high school for three years in the state and graduated. It also has a law that provides driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. What is your position on those two laws?
I believe the states should be deciding these issues. In terms of in-state tuition, I've sponsored legislation that would clarify the states' authority to make decisions regarding tuition at state educational institutions. A 1996 law granted the DOE power that appears to encroach upon states' rights, and I am uncomfortable with that. I believe the state of Utah, not the federal government, should decide to grant in-state tuition to whomever it chooses. Regarding driver's licenses, I have always been opposed to a national identification card, feeling that the states should decide how to administer driver's licenses. I voted for the REAL ID Act, which authorized minimal requirements for driver's licenses but does not dictate to states how and at what age an individual can get a license.
9. Utah's Senators are split on the issue of a constitutional amendment to protect the flag. What is your position?
I support the constitutional amendment to protect the flag, not because I take amending the Constitution lightly but because I believe the flag represents more than a conduit of speech. It represents the values of this country. It is important to note that burning the American flag was only recently deemed free speech. In 1989, when the Supreme Court decided the case to protect flag burning as an expression of free speech, it was only agreed to by a 5-4 decision. It is from that decision that Congress has the power and authority to affirm or reject the ruling through legislation or constitutional amendment. The arguments for desecration turn on the argument that desecration is a protected form of speech. But I contend burning the flag is one of action or conduct not uttered words
10. The Senate recently voted on a constitutional amendment on traditional marriage. What is your position?
I have always supported traditional marriage. This Congress, I have cosponsored constitutional amendments protecting marriage as well as a bill to limit federal court jurisdiction from hearing cases that try to redefine marriage. Last Congress, I was a cosponsor and voted on the House floor for a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as well as the same limitation on jurisdiction bill. This is a major issue of our time. It is a battle between the recognition and reaffirmation of the traditional social fabric of our nation or the changing whims and desires of a few.
11. As gasoline prices continue to rise, what do you believe Congress should do to improve America's energy situation?
Congress has always acted to encourage federal agencies to expedite the processes to allow greater development of every resource on federal lands. We must maintain pressure on the agencies to make that greater access a reality. We need to open ANWR. If ANWR development was authorized back in 2001, when it was first proposed to the Congress, production would already be on line and we would be less dependant on foreign sources of oil and the inflated market prices. We also need to encourage more development of the oil shale and tar sands in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. There are an estimated 1 billion barrels of oil in these areas. The language I authored and that was included in the energy bill is only a start, but the Congress needs to build on these incentives to ensure development. We also need to encourage the building of new refineries. We have not had a new refinery built in America since 1976. One program I am supporting is for the building of refineries on military bases that have been closed under the BRAC process.
12. What should the government's policy be with regard to developing oil discovered in Utah?
We need to consolidate our school trust lands so that the oil produced can directly provide money to our schools. Between oil shale and tar sands development and the coal to gasoline technology, we have plenty of resources that should and can be developed. The federal government needs to encourage this development for the national reasons of reducing prices and increasing supply, but on a state level this needs to be encouraged so our schools have the resources they need. The government should have a hands-off policy. If the government gets out of the way the nation will have more resources and Utah will have more money to teach our children.
13. Many believe No Child Left Behind has damaged Utah schools. What can be done to improve education in the state and the nation?
Many of us in Utah are extremely concerned about the No Child Left Behind law, and for good reason. Sometimes we overlook the fact that NCLB was actually the reauthorization of federal education programs dating back to the 1960s. The President and many Republicans used this reauthorization as an opportunity to try to inject some long-held Republican principles into those programs. Having seen that 40 years of federal interference in education, I voted for the NCLB as a catalyst for needed change. As we have in seen in Utah, though, implementation of the NCLB law has caused confusion, controversy and complication. At my urging and in response to concerns raised by the state, the federal Department of Education has responded to some of Utah's unique challenges by granting some of the added flexibility we desired. However, even with those modest improvements, the bureaucratic implementation of NCLB has made it clearer than ever that the only real answer is to get the federal government out of our classrooms. One area where the Federal Government can help Utah schools is by helping us consolidate our school trust lands. There is a lot of revenue-producing land in our state that is today owned by the Federal Government, but which could easily be transferred and exchanged into our school trust lands. Then, that revenue could go directly to our schools. Considering how much of our land the government owns, the least we can do is use more of those lands to support education. After two decades of stalemate, we are actually seeing some progress toward getting some land exchanges done, and I am committed to seeing them through.
14. The U.S. is now running huge budget deficits. How would you deal with this problem?
I want government to spend less, and do less. The kinds of deficits we are seeing right now are a burden that our economy simply cannot bear. Deficits drive up interest rates, reduce the money that's available for homebuyers, businesses, and consumers and add to a national debt that we do not want our children and grandchildren to inherit. Sure, 9/11, the war on terror, Iraq and a rash of natural disasters like hurricane Katrina have put unprecedented demands on the federal budget. And we need to spend what it takes to deal with those kinds of threats and catastrophes. At the same time, there are a lot of things the federal government does that it doesn't need to do. Until we deal with those things, it will be difficult to truly bring spending under control. We also need to be thinking more creatively about the process by which government spends and how we can begin to return more functions and programs to states and local governments. The idea of the federal government going to a two-year budget cycle has been around for many years. Maybe it's time to consider it. With a two-year cycle, Congress would actually have the time it takes to provide real oversight and find ways to make government operate smarter and cheaper. I chair the subcommittee that oversees interstate compacts, like the ones we use to manage everything from river basins to adoptions to sex offender registries. I personally believe there are probably dozens of federal programs that could be turned over to the states and managed through compacts among those states . That would let us get the federal government out of the way and save the money it wastes doing things it doesn't need to do. We can control spending but not without changing what government does and how it operates.
15. What is the one personal trait/characteristic that you want voters to know about you and why is that important in this race?
My conviction to do what is right combined with a willingness to work toward real solutions. I am a student of our founding fathers. They were an incredible group of individuals. By working together, against all odds they were able to forge the greatest nation in the world. Because they had the passion and courage to stick to their convictions they were able to accomplish something that had never been attempted. A workable, representative democracy. Without conviction, an individual changes his stance depending on the blowing wind. With conviction, a politician can run on a record he is proud of.
16. Why would you be a better Congressman than your opponent?
I have the passion, the experience and the relationships to get things done for Utah. We are a small state and that reality demands effectiveness from our congressional delegation, and I believe my record reflects that effectiveness. My record as a solid conservative is clear and I am able to translate those convictions into results.