New Arizona Law Puts Pressure on Utah

By Ronald W. Mortensen on April 26, 2010

When Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the toughest state illegal immigration law in the nation on April 23, 2010, it made it imperative that Utah's newly enacted child identity theft protection law (SB251) take effect as scheduled on July 1, 2010, without any changes.

If the Utah law isn't implemented as scheduled, Utah's widely perceived sanctuary state status, complete with driving privilege cards and an in-state college tuition program for illegal aliens, will make it a prime destination for illegal aliens currently living in Arizona and for those who continue to unlawfully enter the United States.

History shows that when Arizona takes action on illegal immigration, it almost immediately impacts Utah. When Arizona passed legislation requiring employers to use E-Verify in 2007, an illegal alien living in Arizona was quoted as saying, "My plan is to go to Utah because I see a lot of problems here." Another illegal alien said, "It is very quiet there [Utah]. There is less chance they are going to come and deport me."

Thus, in light of the new Arizona law, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert should drop his plans to call a special session of the legislature in order to make Utah's new law purely voluntary for at least one year. That single act would sacrifice hundreds, if not thousands, of additional Utah children to illegal-alien driven, job-related identity theft.

Making SB251 explicitly voluntary as Gov. Herbert has suggested would also cause untold harm to Utah children as they have their credit ruined, are saddled with arrest records and tax liabilities, and have their medical histories corrupted with potentially life threatening consequences by illegal aliens using their identifying information.

In addition, without employment verification requirements, jobs that should go to unemployed Utahns will go to illegal workers, and the two thousand Utah employers who currently protect Utah children from ID theft by using E-Verify will continue to face unfair competition from businesses hiring low-cost, illegal alien labor.

It is important to note that Gov. Herbert only very reluctantly signed SB251, and at the insistence of the Salt Lake Chamber, certain faith-based groups, and the Hispanic community, he agreed to call a special session of the legislature to weaken it and to give them time to change it before it takes effect.

While dismayed by the governor's willingness to sacrifice Utah children for the benefit of illegal aliens and their employers for another year, supporters of SB251 generally held their peace because if the change were limited to a year, it was still much better than having the bill killed outright by a veto, as was being demanded by business, Hispanic, and faith-based interests.

During the effort to prevent a veto, the bill's supporters reluctantly concluded that the powerful Salt Lake Chamber, which was strongly lobbying for a veto, would only accept the bill if it was made voluntary for at least a year. That way, its members could continue to hire illegal aliens using the stolen identities of Utah children rather than providing jobs for legal Utah workers.

In fact, at the time SB251 passed, an estimated 50,000 Utah children were already victims of illegal alien, job-related identity theft, 1,626 companies were paying salaries to the Social Security numbers of Utah children under 13, and 16 percent of all identity theft in Utah was job-related.

In addition to the Salt Lake Chamber, Hispanic organizations also insisted that illegal aliens be allowed to continue using the fraudulently obtained identities of Utah children to get jobs. The Hispanic community was especially effective because key Republican politicians believe that Hispanics are the future of the Utah Republican party and are willing to do whatever is necessary to accommodate them.

The third major group pushing for a veto of SB251 consisted of certain members of Utah's faith-based community. They insisted on destroying the lives of still more innocent children and other victims of job-related identity theft in the name of social justice for illegal aliens.

That was then and now is now. Passage of the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law has totally changed the situation.

Now, advocates for Utah's children recognize that it is imperative that SB251 take effect as scheduled on July 1, 2010. Utah's children and their families have suffered enough and have already paid too high of price. They cannot wait another year.

Tea Party activists, 9/12ers, anti-illegal immigration organizations, and Utah citizens in general recognize that it is past time for Gov. Herbert to uphold his oath of office by demanding that all employers do everything necessary to protect Utah's children from illegal alien driven, job-related identity theft and to ensure that Utah's document and identity fraud laws are aggressively enforced.

After all, the governor is sworn to uphold the law and to protect his constituents. It is not his job to build the Republican Party on the backs of Utah's children. It is not the governor's job to support policies that allow illegal aliens to take jobs that should go to legal workers. It is not his job to help businesses benefit economically from large numbers of illegal aliens and it is not his job to push the social costs associated with illegal immigration onto the shoulders of Utah's taxpayers.

Hopefully, Gov. Herbert will do what is right and let SB251 go into effect unchanged and as scheduled. If he won't, then it is up to the state legislature to stand up for Utah's families, unemployed workers, and reputable employers by refusing to go along with the governor's proposed changes.