Police chief, legislator battle over illegal immigration in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY -- In Utah, the Arizona law has legislators, law enforcement and everyday citizens at odds.

Two well-known figures in politics and law enforcement shared their opposing views Friday afternoon at KSL during the taping our program, "Sunday Edition with Bruce Lindsay."

It seems if you even say the word "immigration" right now, it stirs up strong emotions on either side.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank and Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, battled back and forth about what would happen if a bill similar to Arizona's illegal immigration law came to Utah.


"Illegal immigrants are flooding to Utah and they're flooding to Salt Lake City," Wimmer said.

Wimmer says something needs to be done about illegal immigrants living in Utah. He thinks a law similar to Arizona's is the answer. But Burbank says there is no way to enforce that law without racial profiling.

"Any time that we engage in policing based on race, based on ethnicity, language, gender -- there's a whole list of things, but if we're taking enforcement action, using those as criteria for taking different enforcement action with different people, that's wrong. We should profile or be involved in behavior," Burbank said.

Things became heated after Wimmer and Burbank were shown an interview KSL conducted for Sunday Edition with Bruce Lindsay with a woman who asked we identify her by the name "Diana." She admitted she was living in Utah illegally.

"In your experience, Representative, the young lady that was on the TV there, is that reasonable suspicion to ask her further questions?" Burbank asked Wimmer. "If you did not, if Bruce had not told her that she was undocumented, did you have reasonable suspicion to talk with her further?"

"I wouldn't think so because she spoke very good English, and I wasn't talking with her," Wimmer said. "It would be impossible for me to answer your question without being in the presence of her and actually talking to her."

While Wimmer says it is possible to determine someone's status based on things other than race -- such as English language ability -- Burbank says law enforcement would be forced to racially profile, and it would dramatically impact their relationship with the people they serve.

"Why would we want to put police officers in that position?" Burbank said. "Would you want your family members stopped and detained by police officers differently than someone else?"

The debate is sure to continue. To watch the complete interviews with Burbank and Wimmer, tune in for Sunday Edition with Bruce Lindsay this Sunday on KSL 5 TV at 9 a.m.

E-mail: jstagg@ksl.com

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Jennifer Stagg


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