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Posted 27 Aug 2001   For week ended August 24, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 23Aug01

By Kent Larsen

Cannon Called Bush's Point Man on Immigration

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Bush administration, breaking with past Republican opposition to immigration, plans to release a new immigration proposal next month, one that Hispanic, immigration and business interests are expecting to include full amnesty for the 3 to 4 million Mexicans living illegally in the US. To get its plan before Congress, the administration has chosen Utah Republican Chris Cannon as its "point man" to introduce the legislation and argue for its support among his colleagues.

Cannon may be the best congressman for the role. He has solid conservative credentials, including a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union and notoriety as one of the impeachment managers in the attempt to impeach Bill Clinton.

But Cannon is an internationalist who believes in the free movement of people across national borders, leading Democrats to see him as an ally on the issue. Michigan congressman John Conyers Jr., the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, says, "Chris Cannon sincerely believes in immigrants' rights, and he should be intimately involved in any discussions we have with the Bush administration on immigration policy."

Cannon's background and LDS Church membership helps bring him to this position. His family had business interests in Chile and Cannon spent some of his youth there. Growing up in California, he had Hispanic friends. He then served an LDS mission to Guatemala from 1970 to 1971, and as a result speaks Spanish.

And in some ways Cannon has come along at the right time for Utah to face the immigration issue. While the state did pass an official English law, it also has seen increasing immigration, making Cannon's rural district 10% Hispanic recently. The state's large contingent of returned missionaries who served overseas also mitigates anti-immigrant feelings.

But in the role of point man on the issue, Cannon faces an uphill battle. When Hispanic interests learned of the Bush administration's immigration plans, hopes ran high, and now the administration is trying to reel in those hopes to meet the legislative realities. Cannon says that when he met with the administration on the issue, he got a clear message about expectations, "What the president said the last time I talked to him is we've got to be careful not to overpromise. This is a system with a lot of resistance. He wants change, but he wants it in an orderly, reasonable fashion." And Cannon is being cautious about chances for legislation, "I don't even know if we can get a bill in this Congress," Cannon said. "It's just an enormously complicated thing. We want to be careful as we go. This is why the president doesn't want to overpromise."


Bush Goes Slow on Immigrant Amnesty
Washington Post pgA01 20Aug01 T2
By Dana Milbank: Washington Post Staff Writer
Resistance in Congress Forces Gradual Steps

Bush is going slow on amnesty
Deseret News 21Aug01 T2
By Lee Davidson: Deseret News Washington correspondent


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