Immigration bill passes House test
After the legislation passed in the House of Representatives, a push to turn local police officers in Utah into immigration agents awaits debate from state senators.
Marsac Building officials who oppose House Bill 105 say the legislation targets Latinos and would damage relationships officers must maintain with the immigrant community.
The two people who represent Summit County on the Hill Reps. Christine Johnson and Mel Brown — each voted against the bill. But HB105 passed with a vote of 43-30.
Lawmen who are unsure how the new mandates would affect them are asking lawmakers to oppose the measure they say would turn local cops into federal agents.
Passage of a substitute version of HB105, sponsored by Rep. Glenn Donnelson, R-North Ogden, would require Utah’s Department of Public Safety team with the federal Department of Homeland Security to "perform a function of a federal immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens in the United States."
A spokesman for the Utah Highway Patrol said the Department of Public Safety’s position on the bill is neutral.
But encouraging police officers to arrest illegal immigrants in Park City could hurt relations between the government and its immigrants, says Park City Police Chief Lloyd Evans.
"I think it’s bad legislation," Evans said, adding that enforcing immigration laws falls upon U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"We need to concentrate on local-level issues that affect our community most," Evans said. "We only further create a silent victim through legislation like this."
State troopers could be required to begin identifying illegal immigrants, but local officers could still choose whether to participate if lawmakers pass the so-called Utah Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act, he added.
"As a state prosecutor I am comfortable with our local law enforcement officers enforcing state laws," said Summit County Attorney David Brickey, adding, "when it comes to federal law, I believe we have federal agents that should be doing the job of the federal government."
Enforcing immigration laws means police officers would be required to testify in federal court, he said.
"Who would pay for those officers to go to court?" Brickey asked.
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