The Park Record editorial, July 17-20, 2010 |

The Park Record editorial, July 17-20, 2010

List of illegal immigrants underscores urgent need for reform

It is likely that the loneliest people in Utah right now are the two Utah Department of Workforce Service employees who, in a fit of deranged chauvinism, distributed a list of 1,300 allegedly illegal immigrants to police and media groups earlier this week.

The two workers have been put on administrative leave and, pending the results of an investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s Office, will likely face state and federal charges for breaching and disseminating confidential information.

Sadly, the suspects might have believed they would be heralded as heroes by those who have been clamoring for crackdowns on illegal immigrants. But, as of Friday, that was not the case. Conservative groups including the Sutherland Institute and the Utah Republican Party were publicly denouncing the list as "deplorable," "reprehensible" and "racist."

At the same time, up on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake, the Governor’s office was busy doing damage control to avoid the kind of publicity Arizona received when it passed its precedent-setting immigration law that some characterize as legalized racial profiling.

In a teleconference hosted by the National Immigration Forum, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff promised to prosecute the perpetrators to the full extent of the law. "This is not the way we do things in the state; this is not the way we do things in this country," he said.

In fact, the uproar in state and national media over the "list" has made for some strange bedfellows in Utah this week. Liberals and conservatives have rushed to the nearest microphones to decry the breach of personal data and to blame the federal government for its failure to address the need for immigration reform. And, as long as no one talks in detail about the subject, everyone from Latino community activists to conservative think-tank leaders — seems pretty chummy. The one thing they agree on is that the feds have forced states (and, apparently, a pair of DWS vigilantes) to take matters into their own hands.

But the real reason Congress has been unable to come to a consensus on immigration reform is because the states and the citizens who inhabit them continue to be schizophrenic about what they want — cheap labor or tougher regulations, a wall or policies that can accommodate those looking for a better life.

These issues must be addressed soon or "lists" like the one circulated in Utah this week will continue to terrorize immigrants across the country. In the wake of the blacklist that emanated from a state agency this week, it appears local leaders have begun to initiate those discussions. While we don’t know what the outcome will be, we do know that everyone is waiting to see what Utah will do about "the list."

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