Melaleuca’s VanderSloot: Establish a ‘path to citizenship’

Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot of Idaho Falls is among more than 100 Republican business leaders who wrote Republican members of Congress last week urging them to pass immigration reform and calling the current system “broken.”

The executives set three conditions: secure borders, a legal way for companies to hire workers they need and a “path to legal status for undocumented immigrants who pay penalties and back taxes, pass criminal background checks, and go to the back of the line.”

Reform appears to be stalled, with the House declining to take up a bipartisan Senate bill.

But VanderSloot — a board member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a $1 million contributor to a super PAC supporting GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney — tells the New York Times that a path to citizenship that doesn’t skip ahead of those already in line is key.

“I think most Republicans are on board with a path, but they don’t want them to go the front of the line,” VanderSloot told the Times. “There should not be a reward for breaking the law. They’re O.K. with them having a path to citizenship, but not having an advantage over those who have been waiting in line for a long time legally.”

The July 30 letter was organized by Carlos Gutierrez, President George W. Bush’s Department of Commerce Secretary, who founded the Republicans for Immigration Reform super PAC. Gutierrez told the Times that the letter marks the start of a campaign to lobby GOP lawmakers during the August recess. “So Republicans who are for immigration reform — and I believe there are many — we need to make our voice known in August,” Gutierrez said.

Other signatories include former Vice President Dan Quayle, Bush campaign guru Karl Rove, Romney’s 2012 National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, former GOP cabinet secretaries Spencer Abraham, Don Evans and Tom Ridge and former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, an ally of Idaho GOP Congressman Raul Labrador. Fortuno has helped Labrador raise campaign money in Labrador’s native Puerto Rico.

In June, Labrador withdrew from the bipartisan group of eight House members writing a comprehensive reform bill because he said he can’t support immigrants qualifying for health benefits under the Affordable Care Act. He remains influential on the issue.

VanderSloot and his wife, Belinda, contributed $9,600 to Labrador when he won his first term in 2010.



Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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