Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer, commanded much of the attention at a forum this week hosted by the Latino Journal.
While fellow Democrat Kamala Harris campaigned in Stockton and Modesto, Sanchez made her case for electing a Latina to the Senate. And she called a comprehensive federal immigration overhaul the moral imperative of this nation. But before Sanchez took the floor Thursday in Sacramento, two of her GOP opponents engaged in spirited, albeit less headline-making, discussions in which they staked out immigration positions at odds with many in their party.
Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, said he wouldn’t curtail or lessen the process by which immigrants go about becoming U.S. citizens.
But when it comes to the millions of unauthorized immigrants who are in the country illegally, Chávez said, “as a party of family values, why would we ever support policies that would send a mother or father away from their children?” Chávez said he would call this residency, not legalization.
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“Residency means that you are in the state. We know who you are. You get a license. You pay taxes. And it takes you out of the shadows,” he said.
Duf Sundheim, the other GOP candidate to participate, recalled telling a recent meeting of conservatives he also doesn’t support deporting the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S.
“People started swearing at me ... Three-fourths of the people walked out of the room. And I stayed because we have to have that conversation,” he said. Sundheim is for legal status, but said he opposes granting citizenship. “It’s fine, but they have to go to the end of the line.”
“But there’s a viable path today to legal status,” Sundheim said of his position. “And, if you meet all the other requirements there is the path to citizenship.”