Friday, August 13, 2010

Utah State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom Unveils His Long-Awaited "Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act" Amidst A Backdrop Of 100 Protestors

Surrounded by as many as 100 protesters supporting illegal immigrants, Utah State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom (R-Orem) finally unveiled his long-awaited Utah version of Arizona SB1070 on August 13th, 2010. It's entitled the Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act, and is intended to take effect on July 1st, 2011. Utah media stories published by the Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune, KSTU Channel 13 (with video), KTVX Channel 4, and KSL Channel 5.

-- Read the full 12-page bill HERE.
-- Read a four-page executive summary HERE.

Sandstrom was literally standing alone among a crowed of as many as 100 protesters, most of whom were not Hispanic, who heckled him while he detailed the bill. They interrupted several times, armed with signs that said things like "Who would Jesus deport?" One reason supporters of the bill weren't present is because Sandstron had anticipated a “low-key” press event and hadn’t invited anyone to join him. He plans to remedy that next week with another news conference including backers.

Sandstrom responded to critics who played the race card. After one protestor called him racist, Sandstrom said, "It's a sad state in our country, I believe, when you can say that you want to enforce the law … and for some reason it's considered racism." Snadstrom explained his law is an attempt to follow the rule of law, that it's not racist. He reminded onlookers that "illegal" is not a race, it's a crime.

Sandstrom also responded to critics who played the Mormon card. "Compassion does not mean that you can willfully violate the law," Sandstrom said. "Too often in society today we want to have no consequences for violation of the law. I believe that my legislation does compassionately deal with this issue and at the same time demand that the rule of law be followed." He said the LDS Church has taken no position on the bill. But, he added, "The LDS Church demands that its members honor, obey and sustain the law. … I think what I'm doing is in harmony with those teachings."

Sandstrom also acknowledged that his bill might face a costly legal challenge. But he said unlike Arizona's bill, which had key provisions struck down by a federal judge, any appeals in Utah would be handled by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court, based in Denver, is "friendlier" to immigration issues, he said.

Video Courtesy of

From the text of the bill itself, here are the key provisions:

• Require law officers to verify the legal status of any person stopped, detained or arrested when there is “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally. [Ed. Note: Sandstrom said that mere possession of a "driving privilege card" would be sufficient to trigger an enquiry.]

• Ban consideration of race, color or national origin in determining “reasonable suspicion.”

• Bar any state or local agency from limiting in any way the authority of law enforcement or other agencies from assisting federal officials in the enforcement of federal immigration law.

• Require verification of legal status upon application for public services, benefits or licenses. (This excludes emergency medical treatment, immunizations, short-term shelter, crisis counseling or soup kitchens.)

• Create a right of any legal resident to bring action against an agency that limits enforcement of federal immigration law, providing penalties of up to $5,000 per day for violation.

• Make it a state crime to willfully fail to complete required alien registration documents or to fail to carry an alien registration document required by federal law.

• Expand felony law against transporting undocumented immigrants so that the violation could be for any distance, instead of the current provision of 100 miles or farther.

• Make it a felony to knowingly or recklessly encourage or induce an undocumented immigrant to come to Utah or to reside in the state.

• Allow a warrantless arrest of a person when an officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is subject to deportation.

Several state lawmakers reacted favorably but cautiously after the announcement. Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones says there will be other bills following -- from both sides of the aisle. And, she says, the bill is just the first step in addressing a very complex issue. House Minority Leader David Litvack says he applauds Sandstrom's effort to make the bill transparent, but he has questions -- like the cost of the bill to local law enforcement, among other things.

Gov. Gary Herbert issued a statement regarding Sandstrom's legislation release, saying, the bill is a good starting point to further public discussion. Gov. Herbert also recapped his six guiding principles for immigration reform:

"I have outlined six guiding principles that should be inherent in Utah's efforts. Simply, these are: respect for the law; the federal government must take responsibility; private sector accountability; respect for the humanity of all people; efforts must be fair, colorblind and race-neutral; law enforcement must have appropriate tools; and relieve the burden on taxpayers."

An unscientific poll currently run by KTVX Channel 4 shows that 77 percent of respondents agree with Rep. Sandstrom's bill so far.

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