Local lawmen discredit ‘the list’
The Park City Police Department was one of several law enforcement agencies that received a list of roughly 1,300 purported illegal immigrants living in Utah.
But Chief Wade Carpenter said he disregarded the information.
"I see that as almost a witch hunt," Carpenter said in a telephone interview.
The anonymous mailing filled with personal information was sent last week to news outlets and law enforcement agencies. A handful of the names on the list have Park City addresses, Carpenter explained.
"It would set a dangerous precedent if anytime people wanted someone checked out without probable cause, they sent an anonymous letter and said go check this person out," he said. "They’re not giving us any indication of how they came about this information, and I feel like by just responding to an anonymous letter, we’re violating people’s civil rights."
"If I had a legitimate complaint from a citizen who gave me their name, address and full information, and explained to me how they came about that information, then I would use that information as a follow up," Carpenter added.
Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said he was also mailed a copy of the list.
"I don’t plan to do anything with it," Edmunds said in a telephone interview. "It’s an anonymous communication and I don’t deal with anonymous communication In my opinion, anonymous communication is the lowest form of communication known to man. So I honestly didn’t give it any credence whatsoever, and I certainly wasn’t going to take any sort of action on it."
The list includes birth dates, employers, Social Security numbers, phone numbers and addresses. Names of children are included, along with due dates of pregnant women, the Associated Press reported.
"As soon as I got it I immediately realized that it was personal information that should not have been disclosed," Edmunds said. "I actually looked at trying to go backward and investigate where the information came from, but it was clear that was going to be a very monumental task because there was no way of finding out who mailed it."
According to Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah Department of Workforce Services has identified at least two employees believed to be involved in creating the list.
"Release of such private, sensitive information is deplorable," Herbert said in a prepared statement. "We immediately took action to discover the origins of this list, and I’m pleased with the hard work of the Department of Workforce Services. When someone does business with the state of Utah, they deserve to know that their private information will be kept private."
The state has initiated termination proceedings against the two employees accused of releasing the information, according to a Herbert spokeswoman.
State Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, a Republican who represents the Park City area, said he received the anonymous mailer.
"It appears the information was gathered very slowly over time These are people who are very passionate about illegal immigration. I had a guy talk to me yesterday. He said they are patriots and they have done exactly what they should have done," Van Tassell said Tuesday about the compilers of the list. "Gov. Herbert stated that this is like throwing kerosene on a bonfire that is already burning, and this certainly has created that atmosphere."
The anonymous mailing demands the government deport those listed for being in the country illegally.
Sen. Allen Christensen, a Republican who represents a sizable chunk of the East Side of Summit County, called the list "absolutely wrong."
"We have laws in place that protect our privacy," Christensen said in a telephone interview. "For someone else to be the judge and the jury, what’s to stop those same people from publishing all of your private information all over the media?"
The public was allowed to attend an immigration summit the governor hosted Tuesday on Capitol Hill. According to the Associated Press, the governor has said he will sign an immigration bill into law next year if he is still in office, but it is unclear how closely that legislation might mirror a law recently passed in Arizona.
The law in Arizona orders officers who are investigating other possible violations to identify the immigration status of a suspect if they believe the person is in the United States illegally. Critics decry the law claiming it will encourage racial profiling by police.
"Our hand is being forced," said Christensen. "We have to start someplace and I guess this is the place we have to start, with some kind of similar law if not possibly the exact same law as Arizona."
Christensen said he would support such a measure for Utah.
"It’s stronger than what I would like to see, but it’s going to pass," he said. "It’s very, very difficult, but we are being forced by the inaction of the federal government."
Christensen said he does not support amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, Van Tassell said he is unsure whether he would vote for a measure similar to Arizona’s tough new immigration law.
"At this point in time, I’m not sure what I want. Are we going to be able to round up and deport everyone? No. In my opinion that cannot happen and won’t happen," Van Tassell said. "The process is a 20-year process for a run-of-the-mill guy or girl to be able to get a visa to come into the Untied States In my opinion that is not a workable solution for anyone. Twenty years is too long."
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