Around the mountains: Immigrants advised to be ready for strict law in Utah
April 4, 2009
PARK CITY, Utah ” Attendees of St. Mary’s Catholic Church were advised, in a communication read in Spanish, of changes to be implemented in Utah beginning in July. A new law requires local sheriff’s deputies and police officers to arrest people if, in the course of other duties, they discover they are in the United States without proof of legal residency.
Father Bob Bussen, a religious leader at the church, told the Park Record that there is a “growing fear in the immigrant community, legal and non-legal, that any immigrant is up for suspicion. They’re very concerned that they’re going to lose their jobs or that the police will pick them up. They’re afraid to open their doors.”
Immigrants were warned at the church to carry the telephone number of an attorney in case of arrest and to have a plan should a family member get deported.
The new law also requires public employers and business that contract with the government to use a system that verifies the work status of new employees. Also, the law requires government agencies to verify the immigration status of someone who applies for state or local benefits.
“They’re going to go out and arrest your baker and your landscaper and put them in jail simply for being here illegally,” said Bussen. “We’ll be using our jails as holding pens when we need them to get criminals.”
The bill’s premise, he added, is to “create fear, and the bill should scare the hell out of all of us. We would have the same fear if, as Americans, we were stopped by the police.”
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