Feds asked to investigate privacy breach in immigrant list

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah individuals and advocacy organizations want regional Food Stamp and Medicaid program bosses to respond publicly to last month's release of a list of immigrants that contained private information.

The advocates want the federal program to offer the state training on federal privacy laws. The "list," which was sent to media, immigration officials and others, was a compilation of names and other information on people believed to be illegal immigrants.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services said the information came from its databases and has identified two of its employees as being responsible.

The request came as a letter addressed jointly to Darlene Barnes, regional administrator over the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which includes food stamps, and Jeff Hinson, regional administrator over Medicaid and related programs.

The letter was signed by attorney Mark Alvarez, Glenn Bailey of Crossroads Urban Center, Citizen's Education Project, Michael Clara of the Utah Republican Hispanic Assembly, The Disabled Rights Action Committee, Linda Hilton of the Coalition of Religious Communities and Bill Tibbitts of the Anti-Hunger Action Committee.

The letter also asked the two agencies to investigate the leak of confidential information and to work to "restore the public's trust that when people in Utah apply for federal nutrition and health care programs, they will not face public ridicule and embarrassment or worse."

"Nobody is going to apply for these programs if there is a risk they will be publicly shamed and embarrassed for it," Bailey wrote in a statement to the media accompanying copies of the letter.

Officials in the agencies' Denver offices did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

E-mail: lois@desnews.com

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