Utah Lawmaker Stephen Sandstrom to Draft Immigration Bill Similar to Arizona’s

Arthur Raymond, Deseret News (Salt Lake City), April 26, 2010

The political and legal fallout now plaguing Arizona after that state’s passage of one of the nation’s toughest new immigration laws could soon be headed for Utah.

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Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, told the Deseret News Monday he’s started work on drafting a bill for the 2011 Utah legislative session that uses the Arizona statute as a model–a move he said is necessary to stanch the flow of illegal immigrants into the Beehive State.

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While critics of the bill say it will lead to racial profiling and likely makes inroads into rights protected under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Sandstrom said it’s no different from enforcement policy local police officers already use.

“If you get pulled over for driving intoxicated, what’s the first thing the officer asks for?” Sandstrom said. “Your ID, right? This is the same thing, the same work police officers are already doing . . . asking for documentation that relates to probable cause.”

That law enforcement inquiry is one that American Civil Liberties Union of Utah director Karen McCreary said is unacceptable.

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McCreary said her colleagues at the ACLU of Arizona are already preparing for a lawsuit aimed at stopping implementation of the law, in conjunction with a variety of civil rights and immigrant advocate groups.

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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert wasn’t ready to weigh in on Sandstrom’s proposal without seeing the language of the bill, but his spokeswoman, Angie Welling, said the governor understood the burden being placed on states to impose their own statutes in lieu of immigration reform at the federal level.

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Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, said it is far too early for Utah to be following in the footsteps of its southern neighbor.

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“I can tell you this,” Sandstrom said. “The people in the state of Utah will be behind this bill.”


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San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle report Wednesday that Republican Rep. Debbie Riddle of Tomball says she will introduce the measure in the January legislative session.

The new Arizona law would require local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status–and make it a crime for immigrants to lack registration documents.

Riddle says if the federal government did its job “Arizona wouldn’t have to take this action, and neither would Texas.”

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