ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- A group has been formed in southwestern Utah to battle illegal immigration.
The group called the Citizens Council on Illegal Immigration held its first meeting Wednesday at the Washington County Administration Building and elected officers.
"I'm prepared to be called a racist, a bigot -- all those words people hurl at you when they can't defeat your argument," said Phyllis Sears of Ivins, who was elected chairwoman.
Jim Flohr of Ivins was elected vice chairman and Marge Robinson of St. George was picked for secretary.
Council member Larry Meyers, a St. George resident who has been a prosecutor for eight years, said he would not say illegal immigrants commit more crime than citizens, but there would be less crime if illegal immigrants were not here.
"This has nothing to do with race or national origin," Meyers said. "It has to do with people being here illegally."
Meyers said many of the council members feel it is employment opportunities that bring illegal immigrants to the area.
Sears made a successful motion to create a registry of businesses that follow legal hiring practices and do not employ illegal immigrants.
The committee would work to publish the registry, whether through public service announcements or paid advertising.
Meyers said the council should call on local law enforcement agencies to put together an immigration task force, obtain training in federal immigration law and work with employers to detect forged or false documentation.
Meyers suggested they work to put the word out that illegal immigrants are not welcome in Washington County.
It's not that we don't like them but it's not right for them to be here," Meyers said.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)