Details emerge about Utah's proposed immigration bill

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah lawmaker says his proposed new immigration legislation will be "tough" and "hard hitting" and will attempt to identify people in the state without proper documentation.

Rep. Steve Sandstrom, R-Orem, says at the core of his bill is a measure that makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. Details are now emerging about the proposal, inspired by Arizona's law, which strips out key elements blocked by a federal judge.

It is a hard-hitting bill... it is tough... and not watered down at all. It's taken out some of the most onerous provisions in the Arizona law... It absolutely would pass constitutional muster.

–Rep. Steve Sandstrom, R-Orem

(Click on image to enlarge)
(Click on image to enlarge)

He says under the bill, during a traffic stop, police could ask questions about immigration status, but only of the driver. Others in the vehicle could only be questioned if suspected of a crime or of illegal trafficking.

It would give state workers, like at the Division of Workforce Services, a way to report fraud, like suspected use of false social security numbers. It won't make it illegal to solicit employment in public places and won't include a guest-worker program.

At a forum on immigration Saturday, some said it's time to slow down and find common ground.

"The urgency is there and everybody is feeling it," said Archie Archuleta, president of the Utah Coalition of La Raza. "However, to act unwisely in an urgent situation leads to disaster."

The urgency is there and everybody is feeling it. However, to act unwisely in an urgent situation leads to disaster.

–Archie Archuleta

Immigration advocate Mark Alvarez says the problem is one that needs to be addressed in Washington, D.C.

"How are we going address immigration at the federal level, which is the level at which it needs to be addressed?" he said.

With no federal action now, others welcome state action.

"I don't think it's time to step back," said Eli Cawley, chairman of the Utah Minuteman Project Board of Directors. "The people who care about the individuals, who care about citizens, who care about our sovereignty need step up and put the pressure on."

Gov. Gary Herbert says he's optimistic the state can find a common-sense solution. "There's the carrot approach, kind of on the guest worker side," he said. "There's the stick approach, which is enhanced law enforcement, rule of law."

Meanwhile, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, Herbert's Democratic opponent in the upcoming gubernatorial race, believes national reform is key.

"I think the best thing to do would be for the federal government to step up to the plate and start doing something, start getting involved and start working with the states to come up with solutions that work for them," he said.

Sandstrom says he's putting the finishing touches on his bill and expects to unveil it by the end of the week. He's scheduled to meet with the governor to talk about it on Monday.


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John Daley


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