Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Latino fear over Utah immigration blacklist

The debate over immigration, and in particular illegal immigration, has at times turned ugly and crass. The latest example has led to increased anxiety and fear among Utah’s Latino community.

A group that called “Concerned Citizens of the United States” sent to several Utah media outlets and police officials a list of over 1300 people suspected of being undocumented immigrants. The anonymous mailing included personal information such as names and addresses as well as Social Security numbers and employers in a few cases. Most of the surnames on the compiled blacklist were reportedly of Latino origin.

A letter accompanying the list, which was mailed out in April, claimed that the group "observes these individuals in our neighborhoods, driving on our streets, working in our stores, attending our schools and entering our public welfare buildings." Furthermore, the group said that they would provide “new lists on a continual basis” with the possibility that those named will be deported.

The accuracy of the list is unknown yet that hasn’t stopped Latinos in Utah from feeling terrorized. "Why did they put me on that list? Now it's been 15 years since I got my residency. … I'm angry," said one woman to the local press while the director of Utah’s Proyecto Latino said that some are worried of harassment by "crazy people".

In response to the mailing Gov. Gary Herbert wrote in a tweet that he has ordered an investigation into the origins of the mailing including the possible illegal infiltration of private government databases.

Legislators in Utah are considering a proposal similar to Arizona’s staunch anti-immigration law set to take place later this month though the Utah bill’s sponsor publicly deplored the mailing of the list. Despite the backlash against the possibly criminal mailing one anti-immigration activist applauded the list:
Eli Cawley, the co-chair of Utah's Minuteman Project, doesn't object to the list. If the information about their immigration status is accurate, Cawley says such dramatic, anonymous, grassroots efforts are called for.

"I believe, in this case, it [is] because illegal migration is the most serious threat to our civilization today," Cawley said.
Image- TIME
Online Sources- Salt Lake Tribune, UPI, Deseret News, New York Daily News, KSL, MSNBC

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