(KCPW News) United States Representative Chris Stewart faced a bombardment of questions related to immigration reform on Thursday. The congressman from Utah’s second district held open hours at his Salt Lake City office. But due to some confusion over the format of the meeting, a large crowd of mostly Latino constituents gathered in Stewart’s lobby, anticipating a town-hall style meeting.
Overwhelmed by the size of the crowd, Stewart proposed scheduling another meeting to better address their concerns. Stewart currently has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, September 4, at the Sweet Library in Salt Lake City.
Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, Proyecto Latino de Utah director Tony Yapias, was pleased with the meeting.
“This was a good opportunity for many of the Latinos who were there and others who came to just have a few minutes answering some questions and having a face to face interaction. Which I thought worked really well,” Yapias says. “We’ll have an opportunity to have a much bigger meeting, but last night I thought it was more intimate.”
Latinos have been critical of Stewart’s positions on immigration reform, most notably his reluctance to provide a pathway to citizenship for those currently residing in the United States illegally. But Yapias says the gap is narrowing for both sides in the immigration debate.
“I was very impressed with Congressman Stewart’s very sincere, frank conversation that he and I had, and with the other Latinos,” Yapias says. “He wants immigration reform. Where we differ is on the path to citizenship, and he mentioned that he doesn’t support any special path to citizenship. Surely, that’s also what I don’t want. I don’t want any special path to citizenship. We want an earned path to citizenship, which is, I think, different.
“I think that, at the end of the day, as he himself said, I think we agree on 80 percent of the whole issue,” Yapias says.
In June of the year, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but it remains to be seen how the bill will fare in the House of Representatives. Representative Stewart has said he opposes the Senate bill.
KCPW was unable to reach Representative Stewart for comment.