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SALT LAKE CITY -- A state lawmaker hoping to bring an "Arizona-style" immigration law to Utah says the version of the bill released to the media this week is a phony.
When Rep. Steven Sandstrom first heard a version of his bill had been leaked, he thought someone may have broken into his home or office. But after hearing what was in the documents, he says he's confident this is a phony.
Copies of the fake bill were faxed to media outlets Monday.
"I was pretty shocked; and it just again confirms the heightened rhetoric over this issue," Sandstrom says.
The bill was faxed anonymously and was traced back to a FedEx store in Orem. The first page is titled "Confidential Memorandum" and is addressed to "Selected Utah State Legislators." The sender asks for thoughts on immigration reform and references scripture from the Book of Mormon.
The bill itself looks quite convincing, and is formatted almost exactly the same as every other state bill. Some of its proposals include:
- Seasonal workers get tax exemptions for agreeing to ankle bracelet monitoring
- Housing "reservations" for those workers
- Employers who report illegal immigrants get refunds on their state Workers Compensation Fund contributions
- Sheriffs get the ability to deny bond for illegal immigrants because they are a flight risk
- Compensation for ordinary citizens to enforce immigration laws
But Sandstrom maintains that it's all fabricated.
"The thing that was the most shocking to me is the amount of time somebody must have spent making this bogus document," he says. "To make it look like a real bill, and to fake a memo, it's just amazing. Someone spent a great deal of time on this elaborate hoax."
Sandstrom says the religious references are ridiculous. He says only he and the legislative counsel have copies of his bill, and no one else.
"I don't know if they're trying to discredit me, discredit the people supporting this type of bill, or the opposite way. It's just hard to imagine what people are thinking when they're doing something like this," he says.
Sandstrom says he had planned to release his bill at the beginning of August. He may move that date up, after the release of the fake version.
As far as this version's origin, Sandstrom says his staff is working to find out where it came from.