Following a huge turnout at Utah caucus meetings in the spring of 2012, it was widely reported that the new group of Republican delegates who choose party leaders and candidates were more “moderate” than in years past.
The “moderation” of the party was reportedly helped when the Mormon Church endorsed the Utah Compact and the so-called “Utah Compact bill” (HB116) and then repeatedly encouraged its members to attend caucus meetings.
The large caucus attendance resulted in the replacement of many state and county Republican delegates who had had aggressively opposed “the Utah Compact bill” and who had given the boot to former Senator Robert Bennett. (The “Utah Compact bill” actually makes illegal aliens virtual indentured servants of their employers and makes it cheaper for employers to hire illegal aliens than American citizens.)
Therefore, when an influential group of Utah County Republicans announced that they would ask the Utah Country Republican Party Central Committee to recommend replacing the county party’s existing immigration platform plank with the Utah Compact (P105), it appeared to be a sure bet. After all, the predominant Mormon Church clearly supported the Utah Compact, most of those on the Central Committee were Mormons and the party was more moderate than in the past.
In addition, the Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives and her influential, lobbyist husband were behind the platform change as was powerful state Senator Curt Bramble who has traveled the nation extolling the virtues of the Utah Compact and the Utah Compact bill. (Locally the Brambles and Lockharts are referred to the Bramharts.)
Finally, the Utah County Chamber of Commerce supported adding the Utah Compact to the platform.
The much less influential and powerful opponents of P105 fought back with a four pronged strategy:
- Expose the Utah Compact as the cynical creation of the Salt Lake Chamber,
- Portray the Utah Compact as a set of guidelines for discussion embraced by the Obama Administration,
- Show how the Utah Compact conflicts with Republican principles, and
- Offer Central Committee members an alternative (P106) to inserting the Utah Compact into the platform (See bottom of this article for text of P106).
The Bramharts and other proponents of inserting the Utah Compact in the Utah County Republican Party platform apparently counted on their political power and influence coupled with the star power behind the Compact, which included three former governors, a retired U.S. Senator and a who’s who of business, civic and religious leaders all topped off by the highly influential Mormon Church, to carry the day.
The evening before the vote on the Utah Compact proposal, proponents sent out an e-mail listing all of the luminaries behind the Compact. Possibly sensing trouble if they insisted on totally replacing the existing immigration platform with the Utah Compact, the proponents advised Central Committee members that they could vote both for the Utah Compact and for the alternative platform language as well.
When the Utah Compact platform proposal finally came up, the president of the Utah County Chamber of Commerce, Val Hale, spoke in favor of it; however, when he brought up the Mormon Church’s support for the Compact, he was lightly booed by those who opposed introducing the Mormon Church into the political debate.
On the opposition side, state Senator Margaret Dayton called out the high profile, Utah Compact proponents for what she said was an attempt to create a “bipartisan” Republican Party platform.
According to an analysis by Representative David Lifferth, Committee members defeated P105 because:
- the Utah Compact was written by a “tiny tent” of interested groups,
- it is a public document that has to be taken as written, and
- wording problems with the Compact resolution (restricts law enforcement’s ability to act, requires that all five Compact principles be adopted as a group and implies that families should never be broken up when a crime is committed).
Rod Mann of Highland wrote:
As a member I listened to the arguments both during the meeting and read numerous pro/con emails before. The pro compact side arguments tended to follow two lines of reasoning. 1) The Compact is an inspired document that provides a framework for law makers to create a compassionate solution to immigration and 2) it must be good because it has the approval so many including President Obama, the NY Times editorial board, multiple churches, business organizations … . The argument to me were not substantive.
The oppositions arguments were that while the sentiment behind the document may be good the document itself is vague and has a lot of internal inconsistencies and therefore is not suited to provide a standard against which that actions of elected Republican officials can be compared. Specific examples were cited to illustrate these points.
When the votes were finally counted, the Utah Compact suffered an overwhelming defeated by a vote of 95 to 179.
Central Committee members then voted 169-71 for the alternative proposal (P106) which, according to its proponents, embraces clear principles, provides a specific plan for a longer term solution and balances the principles of compassion and the rule of law. By a vote of 117-115, they also voted to retain language from the current platform that reads, “Taxpayers should not be covering state benefits for illegal aliens.”
By the end of the day, the Utah Compact had been soundly rejected by the new group of moderate Republicans who saw it is an attempt to equate illegal immigration with legal immigration or as a post on the Deseret News page explained:
Many of us are personally disgusted by the lies and manipulation which surround the immigration debate. Among these is the Utah Compact itself. It cunningly erases any distinction between legal and illegal immigration, in order to subtly convey a message that there is no legal nor moral difference between the two. It implies that both should be celebrated and embraced.
David Duncan wrote:
As one of the four creators of P106, I can definitely state that we got no help from the Bramble/Lockhart clan, and that they were not open, in any way, to any modifications to the Utah Compact language to make it more compatible with format of the platform, to make it not conflict with other parts of the platform and especially not to modifying the content to be more Republican-oriented….. The grassroots effort to oppose P105 and instead, strengthen our platform with P106 is what should be celebrated here–not out-of-touch party power-brokers.
Another individual commenting on the Provo Herald site explained the rejection of the Utah Compact.
The Bramharts bragged for months about how voters, at the last caucus meeting, had elected a very moderate group of uninformed delegates and how they would be able to get those delegates to pass moderate agendas. Well the whole strategy backfired on them; these delegates did their homework and did not go along with the Bramharts moderate agenda.
The revised immigration platform will now be submitted to Utah County delegates for approval at the Utah County Republican Convention in May.
P106 as amended and adopted (source David Lifferth):
The United States of America is a stronger and better nation because of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants. We welcome people of goodwill from all other countries immigrating through a system that is legal, safe, orderly, and humane and addresses the needs of national security. Our nation is stronger when immigrants weave themselves into the fabric of our common language and culture of personal liberty, self-reliance, family values, and the rule of law.
First, we support the constitutional mandate for the federal government to protect and secure our national borders. Failure to do so threatens our national security and is unfair to hardworking people around the world who follow the process to immigrate legally.
Second, we support a fair and efficient immigration approval process that is consistent with national economic needs, that provides equal access to persons of all nationalities, and does not favor those who come here illegally over those who seek to come here lawfully.
Third, we support a humane approach to reconciling the status of illegal immigrants that respects both justice and compassion, does not reward illegal behavior, and does not create incentives for future illegal immigration. We support policies that strengthen families. Parents have a responsibility to act lawfully so their children are not negatively impacted.
Taxpayers should not be covering state benefits for illegal aliens.