by David Safier
This is a "There's hope" story out of the Salt Lake City Trib. Stephen Sandstrom, one of Utah's biggest anti-immigration legislators, a good buddy of Russell Pearce, changed his tune and became what was called during the Bush era a "compassionate conservative." He still supports Romney, but unlike Mitt, he thinks illegal immigrants need to have a way to "square themselves" with the law.
The turning point? After Sandstrom participated in a panel discussion, a 19 year old young woman, who came to the U.S. when she was 3, came up to talk with him. She said she graduated high school with a high GPA, but there she was without documents or a social security number, and no future. Sandstrom reacted:
"I was just panicked inside for her. Can you imagine? I put myself in her shoes and how horrible that feeling would be," Sandstrom said. "I remember she told me how she used to place her hand over her heart saying the Pledge of Allegiance. ‘I love America. I am an American,’ she told me. I thought about it and, for all intents and purposes, she is."
Sandstrom backed away from his earlier hard-line positions. He's lost friends and colleagues in the process. He's no progressive, not by a long shot, but he's someone who can see undocumented immigrants as human beings. He's at a place where people can start talking to one another and looking for solutions.