May 25th, 2010 @ 5:48pm
By John Daley
SALT LAKE CITY -- Not a good idea for Utah: that's what Sen. Orrin Hatch says about the controversial immigration law passed in neighboring Arizona.
Hatch and other GOP senators met Tuesday to discuss the immigration issue, along with others, in a face-to-face meeting with President Barack Obama.
Related: Obama, Senate GOP, talk budget, border security
President Obama and Senate Republicans held a rare, private meeting to discuss what legislation can be achieved during this volatile election year.Immigration was a key issue discussed in the meeting, which as times grew heated. The president prefers a comprehensive bill, but Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch says "not this year."
"He indicated that he felt that you had to do the whole immigration bill," Hatch said, following the meeting. "I don't think you can do a whole immigration bill without first making clear that you're going to take care of the border first."
In Arizona, after any lawful stop, police officers can "determine the immigration status" of those they suspect of being in the country illegally. Proponents applaud the law, saying a crackdown is overdue. Opponents say the new law will lead to racial profiling.
Hatch says he thinks something needs to be done.
Related: Salt Lake police chief to talk immigration with US attorney general
Chiefs of Police from around the country, including Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank, will meet Wednesday with U.S. Attorney General Mark Holder to talk about their concerns surrounding Arizona's controversial immigration law. "I think the people in Arizona know that they can't use it for racial profiling. In fact, the bill basically says you can't racially profile," Hatch said.
Then the senator added, "Would this bill be good for Utah? I don't think so. I'd prefer us not having it."
On another topic, the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Hatch called it an "ecological disaster" but defended government regulators with oversight of offshore drilling.
A new report blasted the U.S. Department of Interior's Mineral Management Service for a cozy relationship between the agency and the oil and gas industry.
"I don't think that's a fair appraisal," Hatch said. "The fact of the matter is this is kind of a one time, very unusual explosion that's tragic, but very, very difficult to contain."
Hatch says other issues discussed in Tuesday's meeting included deficit spending, government expansion and job creation.
E-mail: [email protected]