Orem representative gives insight into upcoming immigration legislation

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The countdown is on. Friday morning, a Utah immigration reform bill will be unveiled. Many wonder if it could be as controversial as Arizona's law.

"With the overwhelming response I've received, I am absolutely confident that the state of Utah are demanding a bill like this to be passed in our legislature." Rep. Steven Sandstrom

On the night before Orem Rep. Steven Sandstrom, the bill's sponsor, presents the legislation, he shared some of the details with KSL News.

"With the overwhelming response I've received, from every corner of the state, I am absolutely confident that the state of Utah are demanding a bill like this to be passed in our legislature," Sandstrom said.

The representative spent months researching and consulting with attorneys and professionals, and he came up with what he describes as a "simple and straight-forward" 12-page bill.

"In our state, and in our country, we're getting to that perfect storm, where the public has finally said, ‘Enough! We want something done about this,'" Sandstrom said.

He said his bill is similar to Arizona's, but with several portions taken out.

"A lot of issues dealing with soliciting day laborers, having cars impounded if you're caught soliciting a day laborer; some of those issues like that are not in my bill," he said.


In Utah's version, Sandstrom says law enforcement must suspect you've committed a separate offense before they question you.

"You have to commit a crime or violate the law -- like speeding -- before you could even be checked. So, it's a secondary offense," Sandstrom explained.

His version also creates a way for state employees, such as those from Department of Workforce Services, to report anyone they believe might be benefiting from state programs illegally.

"I've tried to keep it a measured approach," Sandstrom said. "I've looked for the more compassionate end of it. But at the same time, this bill is very hard-hitting. It's a hard-hitting, tough bill."

But critics say Sandstrom's bill will create division, not a solution.

"Representative Sandstrom is right now playing the part of an incendiary; that is, a fire bug," said Archie Archuleta, of the Utah Coalition of La Raza. "And this hatred that's coming out on immigration law is fire. Right now it's a low fire, but it's building."

Sandstrom plans to release his bill Friday morning at 11 a.m. Stay tuned to KSL.com, KSL TV and KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM for coverage of his press conference.

E-mail: jstagg@ksl.com

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