Utah's Immigrant Hit List

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Last week, at least two Utah state employees were involved in distributing a list of 1,300 names of supposedly illegal immigrants. This 29-page list was sent out to Utah government offices and media and included such personalized details as social security numbers, addresses, and even pregnancy due dates. The Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, told CNN’s John King on Friday night that those listed have Hispanic names and not all of them are in the state illegally.

While Herbert condemned the actions saying the “release of such private, sensitive information is deplorable”, it isn’t just the violation of privacy rights and the rogue behavior of public servants that makes this incident so troubling.  It is also the irrepressible undercurrent of racially-based targeting of those with Hispanic surnames as outsiders, creating a climate of intimidation and fear in communities of color and among people of foreign national origin.

As emphasized in the Amnesty Report Jailed Without Justice, all people, whatever their immigrant or citizenship status, have fundamental human rights which include the right to privacy and the right to be free from police harassment. Utah Attorney General Shurtleff  acknowledged:

“Clearly, it’s not even meant as a blacklist. It’s more like a hit list. It is, I think to put people at fear, to terrorize, to get people mobilized to do things.”

I agree. State policymakers and officials must understand that discriminatory stunts such as “listgate” don’t occur in a vacuum.  This incident has to be viewed in the larger political context of states like Utah’s neighbor Arizona rushing to adopt harsh and restrictive immigration initiatives without regard to the human rights violations involved. In fact,  no one has been able to demonstrate persuasively how it will be possible to enforce Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB1070, without resorting to racial profiling, a blatant human rights violation.

Nevertheless, without a court-issued injunction to stop it,  SB1070 will take effect next week, not only requiring police to arrest and detain anyone they reasonably suspect of being present in Arizona without a legal immigration status, but giving Arizona citizens the power to sue the police if they do not do so.  You can speak out against SB1070 by sending a message to your senators.

When governors and other public officials pass laws allowing themselves to abrogate the human rights they are otherwise obligated to uphold, it’s no wonder that state workers are emboldened to engage in lawless and discriminatory conduct that terrorizes communities. There’s simply no justification for violating human rights. What’s next? Tolerance of hate crimes?

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14 thoughts on “Utah's Immigrant Hit List

  1. Wow. I cannot believe that a public servant did this. Whoever it was that put that list together and distributed it should be fired, post-haste.

  2. @Joe – The workers have been fired, the Salt Lake Tribune uncovered one of the names today and the AG's office launched criminal investigations into it and will seek prosecution for state and possibly federal charges. Governor Gary Herbert held an immigration roundtable on Tuesday with community, religious and political leaders, I was in attendence and believe that leaders are stepping up to condemn this list and are demanding a responsible/respectable/pragmatic approach to immigration. Utah can't address immigration with Arizona style laws.

  3. Wow. I cannot believe that a public servant did this. Whoever it was that put that list together and distributed it should be fired, post-haste.

  4. @Joe – The workers have been fired, the Salt Lake Tribune uncovered one of the names today and the AG’s office launched criminal investigations into it and will seek prosecution for state and possibly federal charges. Governor Gary Herbert held an immigration roundtable on Tuesday with community, religious and political leaders, I was in attendence and believe that leaders are stepping up to condemn this list and are demanding a responsible/respectable/pragmatic approach to immigration. Utah can’t address immigration with Arizona style laws.

  5. Wow, I was shocked by this news. Seriously, immigrants should not be treated worst or any less of a human than those that are native born into the US. I believe that discrimination of immigrants and people of ethnic backgrounds should be condemned and that there should be more sensitivity by government on this matter, as immigrants is a vital part of the United States.

  6. i´m not impressed with how this organization is using journalistic tactics that are less than honorable.

    for example,
    i received an email that stated (immigrants have rights too) but the article was mainly about racial profiling.

    so which is it?

    should illegal immigrants be caught and deported? I´m not referring to the method of identification. I´m only asking a simple question….basically, "should illegal immigrants be allowed to stay?" basically doing away with the term "illegal immigrant" because, in fact, if they are allowed to stay then that means there is no law against anyone coming here, any way or method they choose.

    What I am really interested in knowing is if "racial profiling" is really the issue that makes this organization angry. My guess is that if the u.s. created a national identity card which many countries in the world already have, and then the u.s. subsequently required that everyone present their national id when stopped by a law enforcement officer for any reason……..then, amnesty international would still have a problem with it even though the race issue would be completely eliminated.

    Anyone care to take me on?

    Anyone care to elaborate on why they agree with me?

  7. Wow, I was shocked by this news. Seriously, immigrants should not be treated worst or any less of a human than those that are native born into the US. I believe that discrimination of immigrants and people of ethnic backgrounds should be condemned and that there should be more sensitivity by government on this matter, as immigrants is a vital part of the United States.

  8. it's a great idea that there should be a more uniformed system of government in the united states

    plus, have anyone ever thought of considering more measures to create a system of work, therefore all people are to identify themselves and hold a work permit for the time they are in the united states. this would eliminate all the illegal activities of smuggling people into this country, and for these "work permit" people there could be set times they are allowed in the state, and certain facilities they are permited to work. I think it'll be both worthwhile for us and the immigrants as well.

    plus, if this system were implemented then there shouldn't be a need for illegal immigrants.

  9. i´m not impressed with how this organization is using journalistic tactics that are less than honorable.

    for example,
    i received an email that stated (immigrants have rights too) but the article was mainly about racial profiling.

    so which is it?

    should illegal immigrants be caught and deported? I´m not referring to the method of identification. I´m only asking a simple question….basically, “should illegal immigrants be allowed to stay?” basically doing away with the term “illegal immigrant” because, in fact, if they are allowed to stay then that means there is no law against anyone coming here, any way or method they choose.

    What I am really interested in knowing is if “racial profiling” is really the issue that makes this organization angry. My guess is that if the u.s. created a national identity card which many countries in the world already have, and then the u.s. subsequently required that everyone present their national id when stopped by a law enforcement officer for any reason……..then, amnesty international would still have a problem with it even though the race issue would be completely eliminated.

    Anyone care to take me on?

    Anyone care to elaborate on why they agree with me?

  10. it’s a great idea that there should be a more uniformed system of government in the united states

    plus, have anyone ever thought of considering more measures to create a system of work, therefore all people are to identify themselves and hold a work permit for the time they are in the united states. this would eliminate all the illegal activities of smuggling people into this country, and for these “work permit” people there could be set times they are allowed in the state, and certain facilities they are permited to work. I think it’ll be both worthwhile for us and the immigrants as well.

    plus, if this system were implemented then there shouldn’t be a need for illegal immigrants.

  11. Utah Welfare list? I thought the majority in AZ, NM, TX, NV, UT, CO, OK, on Welfare, are old school Mormons (FLDS) who still practice polygamy with underage girls and send these girls in to claim they are single parents and get their checks. You should see some of the palace homes that are paid with welfare checks.

  12. Utah Welfare list? I thought the majority in AZ, NM, TX, NV, UT, CO, OK, on Welfare, are old school Mormons (FLDS) who still practice polygamy with underage girls and send these girls in to claim they are single parents and get their checks. You should see some of the palace homes that are paid with welfare checks.

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