July 14, 2010

Governor orders investigation into immigrant list

LAYTON -- Gov. Gary Herbert has ordered an investigation into the release of 1,300 names of people purportedly living in Utah as illegal immigrants.

The anonymous release of the 30-page package of detailed private information arrived in the postal mail at various locations starting late last week.

Copies were sent to at least a half dozen agencies, including law enforcement and media outlets in the Top of Utah.

Gov. Herbert has instructed state agencies to conduct an internal review to determine if the document originated within an agency, said Angie Welling, the governor's communication director.

"If evidence of wrongdoing is discovered, that information will be forwarded to the attorney general's office for possible action," said Welling.

The governor has also directed the Utah Department of Technology Services to assist the agencies with any technology needs they may have to discover if the release came from state records.

The list of names, with addresses all across the state, included birth dates, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and even notes on pregnancies.

Tony Yapias, a former director for the Office of Hispanic Affairs under former governor Michael Leavitt, began calling for investigation once he learned about the packet.

"My suspicion is that this is people inside state government who have certain prejudices," said Yapias, currently director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, an organization that focuses on the needs of Utah's Latino immigrant community.

The packet included two letters, one describing the senders as a group of people concerned about immigration enforcement.

"It is troublesome ... we must hide in the background in order to expose those who would cross our borders illegally and take advantage of the system," wrote the unknown author.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have confirmed they received a copy of the list in April.

But federal officials said, for both privacy and investigatory reasons, they cannot confirm they have or will take action on the list.

"Like any law enforcement agency, ICE has a finite number of resources," wrote Lori Haley, ICE spokeswoman in answering a Standard Examiner question about the list.

"As such, we are focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes efforts first on those dangerous convicted criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, not sweeps or raids to target undocumented immigrants indiscriminately," she added.

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