Utah leaders in Arizona to study immigration law

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's lieutenant governor traveled to Arizona Monday with a dozen Utah legislators. They're on a fact-finding trip looking into the state's controversial new immigration bill.

Lt. Gov. Greg Bell says several immigration bills will be presented Utah's upcoming 2011 legislative session. To prepare, he and the other legislators wanted to see firsthand how Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 is working.

"I'm here to learn," Bell said Monday.

"We want to understand why Arizona has done what they have done and understand what the impact is and their experience so far," explained Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem.

We want to understand why Arizona has done what they have done and understand what the impact is and their experience so far.

–Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem

The lieutenant governor and legislators know immigration will be a hot issue in Utah next year.

"We're having a bill come forward, several actually that we know about, that will be front and center in our session the first of 2011," Bell said.

One of those bills comes from Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem. According to his Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act, an officer may detain a person who is stopped for another illegal act. [CLICK HERE to read more about Rep. Sandstrom's bill]

Two Utah Latina legislators -- Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, and Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City -- are working on an immigration bill of their own, one that will focus on enforcement and guidelines under state control. [CLICK HERE to read more about Sen. Robles and Rep. Chavez-Houck's immigration bill]

"It's clear to me we have a problem with immigration; and it's primarily a federal issue, but it's also clear to me sitting back and doing nothing is not a good option," Daw said.

The lieutenant governor says so far he and the delegation have learned about enforcement problems with the bill, and lawsuits that Arizona faces have been explained.

The Utah group has met with those for and against the law. Though the Bell will not say if he agrees with the new law, he is sure Utah will be getting one.

"I'm confident we will have a bill," he said. "We want to make sure we have the best bill possible."

Tuesday the group will spend the day at the border with border patrol to see firsthand how Arizona's new law is enforced there.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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