Utah officials and community leaders reacted swiftly and with revulsion to the announcement this week that confidential state records had been breached to compile a list of more than 1,300 supposedly undocumented people living in Utah, including pregnant women and children. At a press conference this afternoon, State Attorney General Mark L. Shurtleff condemned the list, noting that “some call it a blacklist, but I call it a hit list.” Speaking for himself and on behalf of the governor of Utah, Gary R. Herbert Shurtleff made it clear that the release of confidential information was “not the way we do things in Utah” or in this country. He noted that the state government of Utah is trying to speak with one voice to condemn the release of information, will not be using the list to initiate actions against anyone on it, and roundly criticized those who would use lists, hate mongering and political rhetoric to stir up racism in Utah. Instead, he called on the federal government to continue to work for a truly comprehensive solution to immigration reform. He noted that the governor has called a meeting next week to produce Utah’s recommendations for immigration reform that will help to keep Utah from going down the road of S.B. 1070. Schurtleff is also awaiting results of an internal investigation before determining how many laws at the federal and state level may have been broken and who is subject to prosecution.
Other speakers included Paul Mero, head of the conservative think tank, the Sutherland Institute, who also condemned the list, calling it “reprehensible.” He noted that the “good people of Utah won’t stand for this” and predicted that the list itself may backfire, given the controversy it has created, and serve as a tipping point for a more rational discussion on immigration reform. Mero also noted that he believed support for comprehensive immigration reform represented a tenet of an “authentic conservative position” as fixing the immigration system went directly to what kind of people we are and what kind of world we want to live in.