The immigration issue in 2010

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SALT LAKE CITY - States took on the issue of immigration this year in frustration over Washington's failure to act. Arizona led the charge for radical reform and Utah was right behind.

The Utah legislature passed a law that allowed police to be cross-deputized as immigration officers. But the immigration debate got heated when Utah's neighbor to the south passed polarizing legislation.

The country's toughest law against illegal immigration took effect in Arizona in July. It obligated police to determine immigration status if there was reasonable suspicion a person was in the country illegally.

The Arizona law spurred marches across the country by people who feared it would prompt similar laws in other states and it did.


"Utah needs a law because every time Arizona has cracked down in immigration, there has been an increase of illegal aliens coming to the state of Utah," said Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, (R) Orem.

Sandstrom crafted a bill to criminalize undocumented status as a state felony. He garnered both support and opposition.

"Any time that we engage in policing based on race, based on ethnicity, language, gender, there's a whole list of things, but if we're taking enforcement action, using those as criteria for taking different enforcement action with different people, that's wrong," said Salt Lake City Police chief Chris Burbank.

Around the time Sandstrom announced plans for his bill... a list of 13-hundred supposed illegal immigrants in Utah began circulating. It included names, addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and some Social Security numbers.

The information leak was traced to two employees at the Utah Department of Workforce Services. "The List," as it became known, stirred a pot already boiling over with emotion.

Community leaders like, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lane Beattie, hoped to change the tone of the debate created the Utah Compact.

"Utah's immigration policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state," said Beattie.

The Utah Compact outlined five guiding principles for immigration reform: federal solutions, law enforcement, support for families, the economy and a free society.

The influence of the Utah Compact will be measured when the Legislature convenes next month. More than a dozen immigration bills are expected to be introduced.


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Bruce Lindsay


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