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Lawmaker blasts colleagues for support of Ariz. immigration law

Lawmaker blasts colleagues for support of Ariz. immigration law



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Lawmakers aiming to copy Arizona's controversial new immigration law are drawing fire from colleagues.

State Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake, is urging them to reconsider their plans to draft a similar bill, calling such a measure "irresponsible," "disrespectful" and "wasteful."

"I don't think they're analyzing it from a policy perspective; and from a compassionate and human perspective, it's not right," Robles told KSL Newsradio Tuesday.

Robles contends the state cannot afford the costs of fighting lawsuits and detaining more people as a result of a tighter immigration law.

She says was surprised that Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, was pushing for the measure after Attorney General Mark Shurtleff publicly questioned the legality of Arizona's new statute.

"I really don't even know if it's a tactic of fear or a tactic of really just not caring any more about the U.S. Constitution," Robles said.

Sandstrom, on the other hand, told KSL Newsradio the state needs to protect itself.

"When Arizona, in the past, has cracked down on illegal immigration, Utah has been the destination of choice for illegal aliens that leave the state of Arizona," Sandstrom said.

The measure would give police officers the right, based on reasonable suspicion, to question immigration status. Sandstrom said he was working on a draft of a measure to introduce in the next legislative session.

Other conservative lawmakers -- including Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman -- say something should be done.

"We cannot tolerate illegal immigration, and we need to start really discussing comprehensive solutions to this problem," Wimmer said.

Wimmer told KSL-TV an immigration bill would probably be a Patrick Henry Caucus priority in 2011.

"The states need to take steps because illegal immigration has a legitimate impact on individual citizens and the economy," Wimmer said. "I'm not saying that we need to adopt exactly what Arizona is doing, but Utah needs to be at the forefront of this discussion."

E-mail: aadams@ksl.com

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Andrew Adams

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