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14 Jul, 2010 23:29

US immigration debate heats up in Utah

An anti-immigration group calling themselves the Concerned Citizens for the United States has collected a list of 1,300 alleged illegal immigrants in Utah and are planning to send the list to government agencies.

The group is calling on the US to begin the deportation of illegal residents in Utah. The list contains the personal information of individuals, including some social security numbers, addresses and due dates of pregnant women.

Jack Martin, the director of special projects at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) said this type of action is nothing new and that immigration authorities encourage individuals to report information on illegal immigrants, if they have reasonable suspicion, to the proper authorities.

The great frustration is that in most of these cases nothing happens,” said Martin.

In stark contrast, Juan Jose Gutierrez of Vamos Unidos USA called the list both un-American and un-democratic.

Outright abuse of the public trust that one can come up with, I mean this is supposed to be a country where we have a constitutional right to enjoy privacy,” said Gutierrez.

Gutierrez blamed the federal government’s failure to address the broken immigration system is pushing individuals to utilize “outrageous and dangerous” activities.

This used to be the case back in the 50’s when we had McCarthyism where individuals decided that if individuals actually had ideas that they did not share, political beliefs that they did not agree with that it was ok to unleash witch hunts and to go after them and to totally destroy their lives,” said Gutierrez.

It is unknown where exactly the information contained in the list was collected or how it was obtained.

If I were the government I would of course ask that question. I would want to know where that information came from to have an idea if to whether or not it was in any way reliable in order to act on that information,” said Martin.

He continued saying that groups have been systematically observing the hiring of individuals on street corners and that all research shows that the majority of those people are “illegal aliens.”

Gutierrez argued that in the US the right to due process must be respected.

The fact that he assumes that someone standing at a corner may or may not have documents, and he is going to assume that by and large that they don’t, doesn’t entitle anybody to go and stop these individuals on the assumption, which may be right, that they don’t have documents. There has to be probably because,” said Gutierrez.

Further, Gutierrez reminded Martin that illegal immigrants are not taking advantage of ‘the process’ because undocumented workers cannot collect social security, receive education or other public services.

Whereas Martin argued that due process is available in the process the government uses when looking into whether or not the individuals are legally in the country. And that the first concern of the government should be towards Americans and legal US residents who are unemployed not unemployed illegal immigrants in America.

The United Farm Workers Union of America recently held a program where they invaded American citizens to come and be trained to become farm workers with better pay than what current farm workers are getting and there were hardly any takers. So, certainly I don’t disagree that Americans citizens should be entitled to have the first crack at getting jobs, but let us recognize that there are certain areas of the economy where Americans don’t want to go work,” said Gutierrez. 

Immigrant activist Jose Lara added that the list was put together by “renegade Americans” who are afraid hiding behind anonymity to target a specific group of people, similar to the KKK and similar groups.

The real problem here is that they are trying to juxtapose crime, criminals, drug dealers with immigrants and refugees here in the United States and that’s not the truth, it’s not the case. There are people who are being contributing positive to society and they are being scapegoated; they are being hunted out like if they were animal or criminals,” said Lara.

Lara said this incident highlights a failure of the Obama administration in not taking up immigration reform to fix the broken American immigration system.