News / Utah / 

DWS identifies, fires 2 employees over immigration list

Posted - Jul. 20, 2010 at 9:28 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY - The Utah Department of Workforce Services has identified and fired two employees it says are responsible for compiling the list of more than 1,300 supposed illegal immigrants and disseminating that list -- along with their personal information -- to the media and law enforcement officials.

DWS said Tuesday it has initiated termination proceedings against two employees -- issuing an "Intent to Terminate Employment" notice to one worker and terminating a second, who was a temporary employee -- but it has not given their names.

At a press conference Tuesday, following the governor's roundtable discussion on immigration, the governor said Workforce Services investigators, including IT specialists, concluded that two employees created the list.


"With confession, with electronic records, that we believe this is confined to just two individuals. So whatever the speculation was yesterday, this is the up-to-the-minute report today," Herbert said.

He says at least one of those workers confessed.

"With confession, with electronic records, that we believe this is confined to just two individuals. So whatever the speculation was yesterday, this is the up-to-the-minute report today," Herbert said.

Department officials say the temporary employee has been with DWS for about a year. The other is a 10-year veteran. It is believed they started accessing the private data in February.

According to DWS policy, access and distribution of personal and confidential records can be punishable by termination of employment. Misuse of confidential information may also constitute a violation of state and federal law.

"Workforce Services' staff members are carefully trained on the appropriate use and dissemination of private data as required by federal laws and regulations," DWS Executive Director Kristen Cox said. "We carefully protect the personal information that we gather, and take very seriously breaches of that public trust. The list contained inaccurate information and undermines the need to maintain confidentiality and adhere to the due process rules of our country."

Information gathered during the department's week-long internal review will be handed over to the Utah Attorney General's Office Wednesday morning for possible legal action.

The 29-page list purports to contain private data about undocumented immigrants living in the state. Besides containing names, addresses and phones numbers, it also lists the place of employment for 67 of the people on the list, the names of 145 minors, Social Security numbers for 37 people and lists the due dates of six expectant mothers.

Herbert immediately directed all state agencies to begin a review process to determine if the information originated within state government. The statewide review quickly narrowed to the Department of Workforce Services, which maintains a database containing information included on the list.

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Story compiled with contributions from John Daley and Nicole Gonzales.

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