SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - A local lawmaker claims the new Arizona immigration law will bring a flood of illegal immigrants to Utah. He plans to push for a similar law in Utah to prevent a mass drain on the state's educational system and an increase in crime.
Representative Stephen Sandstrom claims the state of Utah needs to take quick action to prevent illegal immigrants who don’t like the Arizona law from fleeing north to Utah.
"So all we are really doing is enforcing federal law at a state level," said Representative Sandstrom (R-Orem).
Nearly 6 million people of Hispanic origin currently live in Arizona and many don't like the new law that allows police officers to identify illegal immigrants. Representative Sandstrom predicts that many illegals will vote with their feet and leave Arizona in droves.
"Utah is the state of choice, to move out of Arizona and come to Utah,” Representative Sandstrom said, “because we have pretty lax laws when it comes to illegal immigration."
Sandstrom said the state spends about $52-million a year educating the children of illegal immigrants and that a mass in migration would bring a wave of criminal activity.
"This is not the cream of the crop of people we would want in our state from other countries," Sandstrom said.
But Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank doesn't like the Arizona law and does not want Utah police officers to take on the responsibility of immigration enforcement.
“It is unconstitutional for law enforcement officers to profile based on race,” Burbank said.” That is racism."
Talk of adopting Arizona's immigration law has already sent a panic through Utah’s Latin community, bringing more distrust of law enforcement.
"If there is a crime in the Latin community, they are not going to call law enforcement.” said Tony Yapias from the Utah Latino Council. “They will be the last ones they will call. They will not cooperate with them."
Representative Sandstrom said he's spoken to many of his colleagues in the House of Representatives who support expanding the role of Utah law enforcement in illegal immigration identification and he thinks the bill will pass in the next legislative session.