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State, federal leaders question origin of alleged illegal immigrant list

By Richard Piatt | Posted - Jul. 13, 2010 at 4:58 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- The release of a list of supposed illegal immigrants has shocked even people crying the loudest for reform in Utah. The main focus of concern centers on where the list comes from.


I think whoever [released the list] maybe had good intentions, but it wasn't an appropriate action. It's never right to release documents, if that's what it is.

–Ron Mortensen, Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration


State Rep. Steven Sandstrom, R-Orem, is drafting Utah's own version of Arizona's controversial law that cracks down on illegal immigration. But he says this list of more than 1,300 names and personal information is not useful.

"I think it's a wrong approach," Sandstrom said. "It sends the wrong message, and it doesn't follow the rule of law with the bill that I'm writing."

But Eli Cawley, the co-chair of Utah's Minuteman Project, doesn't object to the list. If the information about their immigration status is accurate, Cawley says such dramatic, anonymous, grassroots efforts are called for.

"I believe, in this case, it [is] because illegal migration is the most serious threat to our civilization today," Cawley said.

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But most officials in and close to Utah state government are stunned at the appearance of the list. Most worrisome to Gov. Gary Herbert is that private information -- like addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, and information on children.

The governor released a statement Tuesday announcing an investigation into whether the document came from a state agency.

The statement says: "If our internal review indicates that wrongdoing has occurred, the governor will ensure that information is turned over to the proper authorities." [CLICK HERE to read the entire statement from the governor's office]

Releasing the list is even being panned by those who are critical of government and officials for being "soft" on illegal immigrants. Members of the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration deny they had anything to do with the list.

"I think whoever did it maybe had good intentions, but it wasn't an appropriate action," said the coalition's Ron Mortensen. "It's never right to release documents, if that's what it is." [CLICK HERE to read a statement from the Coalition on Illegal Immigration]

As far as investigating the people on the list, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency released a statement Tuesday confirming it received a copy of the list. But the agency won't confirm an investigation unless there is a violation or arrest. [CLICK HERE to read the statement from ICE]

As far as moving the immigration debate forward in Utah, lawmakers say the debate is already raging. The list has now become a part of it.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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