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Sutherland Institute calls on Utah lawmakers to repeal SB81



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SALT LAKE CITY -- One of the most conservative groups in Utah is taking a side on one of the most controversial pieces of legislation ever passed here.

The Sutherland Institute, a think tank known for its conservative views, is calling for the repeal of Senate Bill 81, which allows local law agencies to enforce federal immigration laws.

Derek Monson, policy analyst for Sutherland Institute said, "This law is going to affect a lot of people in a lot of ways if it's based on bad information. We think it should be looked at again and potentially repealed because the information in which it was based was not true."

The study, in the Sutherland's "Just the Facts" newsletter shows undocumented immigrants account for less than 5 percent of state prisoners and less than 4 percent of county jail inmates. The study's conclusion is that "anecdotes often cited by supporters of SB81 are unreliable and misleading."

Also, it concludes sections of the bill that give local law enforcement immigration-enforcement power will breed distrust in the community. That means more drug dealers, murderers and violent criminals on Utah's streets, the study says.

Thursday night, Hispanic community leader Tony Yapias said the study confirms what he's told lawmakers: Utah's immigrant crime problem is relatively low.

"I think people need to understand that when the undocumented immigrant comes to Utah, they're coming here to work, to have families like everyone else," Yapias said.

The Sutherland Institute has often been at the forefront of conservative causes in Utah. Even though it's report says SB81 is based on the false premise that undocumented workers,quote: "behave differently than the rest of us."

Monson says its in line with the institutes mission. "We think that our position is conservative, and we understand that some people disagree with it, and disagree with us strongly, but we would just argue back that we think we're in the right on this," he said.

Senate Majority Whip Scott Jenkins said his immigration task force was unable to verify similar information to what Monson citied in his study.

Jenkins says there are other elements of the bill, like the employment citizenship requirements, which are still crucial. In fact, he and many other legislators still support the bill's taking effect July 1.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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Richard Piatt

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