No Special Session to Gut Utah's Child Identity Theft Bill

By Ronald W. Mortensen on May 19, 2010

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has canceled plans to call a special session of the Utah State Legislature in order to essentially gut SB251 which was passed by the 2010 legislative session.

SB251 requires all Utah employers with 15 or more employees to use an employment verification system for all new hires after July 1, 2010.

The bill protects American citizen children from an epidemic of illegal alien, job-related identity theft and should discourage at least some illegal aliens fleeing Arizona from coming to Utah. In addition, it prevents sexual predators, criminals trying to hide their identities, and even deadbeat parents from using the Social Security numbers of children to obtain jobs.

Although SB251 contains no penalties and relies on a combination of incentives to get employers to follow the law, the Salt Lake Chamber, Hispanic groups, and certain faith-based organizations basically argued that it was not acceptable to deny employers the ability to hire illegal aliens using stolen identities. Together, they put tremendous pressure on the governor to veto SB251. Their efforts appeared to be heading for success until strong pressure from the public, the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration, and Tea Party and 9/12 groups convinced the governor that he could not veto a bill that protects hundreds of thousands of Utah's children from job-related identity theft.

The Tea Party and 9/12 influence was enhanced by the fact that the governor had to run for his party's nomination and that virtually all of the Tea Party and 9/12 leaders were delegates to his party's nominating convention.

The fact that he listened to them proved to be a wise decision on his part because these were some of the same delegates who gave three-term U.S. Sen. Robert Bennett the boot because of, among other things, his support for "comprehensive immigration reform" and amnesty for illegal aliens.

So, Gov. Herbert reluctantly signed SB251 while protesting all the while that it put an unfair burden on businesses and that it would hurt the Republican Party's chances with the rapidly growing legal and illegal alien Hispanic community which he sees as the future of the Republican party in Utah.

While signing SB251 the governor tried to have it both ways, as politicians are wont to do, by promising the Salt Lake Chamber and the Hispanic Community that he would call a special session of the Utah State Legislature in order to amend the bill and make it totally voluntary. Of course, employment verification is already voluntary and his proposed action would simply have gutted the bill.

Needless to say, Utah citizens were not exactly excited about the governor's shenanigans and state legislators who must run for re-election in November really did not want to undo a law that they had just passed. After all, how do you explain to the public that you voted to protect children from illegal alien driven, job-related identity theft before you voted against it? So the citizens got busy and told the governor to stop trying to have it both ways. At the same time, state delegates took the opportunity to thoughtfully and deliberately discuss SB251 with the governor.

When the governor went to legislators to get their agreement for a special legislative session designed to gut SB251, he found virtually no support. After all, what legislator wants to be accused of sacrificing Utah children to illegal-alien-driven identity theft in order to appease the Salt Lake Chamber and the advocates for Utah's rapidly growing illegal alien community? A number of legislators not only said no to making SB251 voluntary but they let the governor know that they would attempt to add stiff penalties to SB251 if a special session were called. By then the governor had to wonder what he had gotten himself into and the supporters of illegal aliens were probably having second thoughts about a special session as well.

Any remaining thoughts of calling a special session came to an abrupt end when Arizona passed SB1070.

Proponents of Utah's SB251 argued that with the passage of the Arizona law that SB251 absolutely had to take effect on July 1, 2010 as scheduled. Any delay would result in Utah putting out the welcome mat for illegal aliens fleeing Arizona and would threaten hundreds of thousands of Utah children with illegal-alien, job-related identity theft, overburden the state's health and education systems, and take jobs away from unemployed Utahns.

State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom immediately said that he would run the Arizona bill in 2011. Before long, Sandstrom and other legislators were suggesting that rather than weakening SB251, the special session would be the perfect time to enact the Arizona law in Utah rather than waiting for the next regular legislative session in 2011.

When a poll was released that had 65 percent of Utahns supporting the Arizona bill, panic must have set in at the Salt Lake Chamber and among the other advocates for illegal immigrants. Shortly, thereafter, the governor announced that he would not be calling a special session after all.

The Salt Lake Chamber said that the climate was so emotionally charged that it was better to let SB251, which it had strongly opposed just days earlier, go into effect rather than risk not being able to control the outcome of a special legislative session.

The Hispanic community leaders who strongly opposed SB251and their fellow travelers have been uncharacteristically silent. This is not totally surprising since, for the first time in a long-time, they find themselves on the defensive rather than dictating the legislative agenda as they were able to do in their heyday.

Gone are the days when the advocates for illegal aliens were able to pass in-state college tuition for illegal aliens, bully the state into issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, and kill any bill that they perceived to adversely impact the growth of the illegal alien community in Utah.

So, now SB251 will go into effect on July 1, 2010, as originally passed and all Utah employers with 15 or more employees will have to verify the employment eligibility of new hires unless they wish to openly flaunt the law.

Illegal aliens fleeing Arizona will not receive the warm welcome from Utah that they had expected and they have to be very concerned that Utah will pass its own version of the Arizona law in 2011.

In the meantime, the governor will work to bring about a deliberate and thoughtful discussion about illegal immigration. Candidates running for office will continue to get deliberate and thoughtful advice about illegal immigration from citizens as they carry out their campaigns and the Tea Party and 9/12 groups will provide strong support for candidates that stand up for American citizens rather than for illegal aliens and those who would profit from their presence.

The 2011 legislative session has the potential to be very rewarding for those who oppose illegal immigration since many of the most strident supporters of illegal aliens in the Utah house have retired or already been defeated.

Tea Party and 9/12 groups who stand up for Utah kids and oppose illegal-alien-driven child identity theft will be even more influential in 2011 and will have an even stronger presence at the state legislature.

And, the already powerful Patrick Henry Caucus, that was formed in 2009 by a group of Utah representatives to be "the legislative voice of the 9/12, Tea Party and other citizen political activist groups," should be even stronger in 2011.

On the other hand, businesses which hire illegal aliens who are using the stolen identities of Utah children and groups that support and defend the right of illegal aliens to destroy the lives of Utah children in order to make a better life for themselves have reason to be worried. For the first time in a long time they are on the defensive and unable to dictate the terms of the debate.