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Bishop wants borders secured

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Without secure borders, why pass more congressional legislation regulating immigration?

That was essentially the question that Congressman Rob Bishop proposed Thursday night in Kamas when talking about the polarizing topic, as he outlined his views of immigration reform.

Bishop appeared before what seemed to be a supportive crowd as part of a whistle-stop tour of parts of the congressional district, discussing a range of topics and spending considerable time on immigration.

Bishop, a two-term Republican whose district includes Summit County, said Congress could easily pass a bill addressing border security but said he prefers wider legislation.

Meanwhile he said the U.S. borders must be shored up against illegal immigrants for legislation to be effective.

"If you don’t secure the borders, it’s the same process," he said, noting that immigrants will continue to illegally enter the U.S. if they are able to through porous borders regardless of what rules Congress passes.

He cautioned that Congress would botch legislation if lawmakers instead take what he described as a "blanket, simplistic approach."

"We’d rather do it right the first time," Bishop said.

Bishop also said federal immigration officials need more funding and more agents.

He mentioned that, perhaps, the federal government, which has traditionally handled immigration issues, could hand over some of those responsibilities to local lawmen. Lots of police departments and sheriff’s offices, though, prefer that those duties remain with the federal government.

"The INS is overwhelmed right now," Bishop said.

The immigration discussion dominated much of the hour-long discussion on Thursday night, held at Kamas City Hall. It drew a mixed crowd of about 15 people, including politicians like David Ure, who is a state lawmaker from Kamas, and two people seeking a state House seat in November, Republican Mel Brown and Libertarian Gary Shumway.

Bishop is expected to easily win re-election in November. He faces Democrat Steve Olsen and two third-party candidates. The campaign so far has lacked pizzazz.

Bishop spent time briefly describing his longstanding platform, discussed the trials of passing legislation in Congress and touched on a bill involving open space that Park City desires.

He said that Sen. Robert Bennett, a Utah Republican, has indicated to him that several senators might stall the open-space legislation. Bishop said he is frustrated that House bills sometimes languish in the Senate, noting malpractice reform as another example.

Bishop criticized the so-called death tax, saying it is abhorrent that the tax, also known as the estate tax, has not been repealed. He said the tax is the "worst tax humanly possible" and it hurts farmers and people who own small businesses.

Bishop said it is best that the Republicans keep control of the House for reasons like Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House leader, would be, according to the congressman, "a lousy speaker" of the House and that he would receive better committee assignments if the GOP held the House.

During the appearance, Bishop did not mention the Iraqi war and nobody from the audience questioned him about the conflict. He surmised in an interview afterward that regular Americans are not interested.

"A dearth of curiosity, I guess, by real people," he said about Iraq.


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