Sponsor: UT immigration bill not same as Arizona'sPosted: Updated:
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Utah lawmaker writing an immigration bill inspired by Arizona's tough new law said Tuesday he is omitting many of the provisions a federal judge blocked last week that were considered the heart of the law.
Rep. Stephen Sandstrom told The Associated Press his bill won't make it illegal to solicit employment in public places. That was a major component of the Arizona law aimed at day laborers that U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocked.
Sandstrom, R-Orem, also said his bill would clarify that the only person police could question about immigration status during traffic stops is the person who committed the infraction - not other vehicle occupants.
"I think it still has the same goals - to let people know in Utah we enforce the law - but we're not going to do so in a punitive way," he said.
The Arizona law doesn't specify who could be questioned when police are enforcing other laws. That part of the law also was put on hold.
Sandstrom said his bill leaves out what he considers some of the most onerous portions of the Arizona law. That includes a provision left intact that requires the impoundment of vehicles when the driver is furthering the illegal presence of an illegal immigrant.
"Really, as I looked it over, I almost want to stop calling it the Arizona-style bill. I want to start calling it the Utah immigration enforcement bill," he said.
The text of Sandstrom's bill has been a closely guarded secret, but Sandstrom said he's close to finalizing it. He plans to meet with legislative attorneys in the next few days to see if any other changes are needed in light of Bolton's ruling.
Sandstrom said the heart of his bill is still a provision that makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. He said his bill just goes about enforcing that differently than Arizona.
"Basically, if you're here legally and never commit a crime and you didn't get pulled over for any type of traffic stop, you pretty much wouldn't have a lot to worry about," he said. "It will not just allow for (police) to talk to people and start asking them for papers. There's some significant differences."
Other parts of the Arizona law that Bolton blocked include requiring authorities to verify the status of all arrested people before releasing them from jail, and requiring immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers. Sandstrom said his bill wouldn't require people to carry registration papers. But he said immigrants would probably want to do so to prove they're in the country legally should they be detained for another crime.
The Arizona law also includes a blocked provision that allows for warrantless arrests when people commit crimes that can result in their deportation.
Sandstrom said his bill would not permit warrantless arrests, but those in the country illegally would be prohibited from posting bail.
Sandstrom said he wants to make his bill public in the next few weeks and would ideally have it aired during a committee hearing Aug. 18. But he said it may have to wait until September.
Sandstrom plans to meet with Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to discuss his bill next week. Herbert has said he will sign an immigration bill into law if he's still governor when the Legislature convenes in January. But he has not said how closely he would like any bill to mirror Arizona's law.
Some conservative Utah lawmakers say they see no reason to let Bolton's ruling affect immigration proposals here.