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News Blog

The Cost of Illegal Immigration...Laws

by Eric S. Peterson
Posted // 2009-04-16 -

How do you put a price tag on a pointless law? In general that would be a rhetorical question, one worthy of angry tea-bagging, much like recent tax protests every Libertarian and there dog has been so fond of lately. But while federal government bailouts and spending casts a long shadow of wasted taxpayer-dollars all the way from DC to SLC, one would think there’s gotta be some government waste hitting a little closer to home.

 

How about this for example: SB 81. The controversial Immigration omnibus bill set to take effect this July would appropriate $1.8 million to fund a number of “get tough” measures from new identity theft investigation resources to funding the cross deputization of local law enforcement with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) powers.

 

But as the Trib recently reported, not only has the Salt Lake City Police Department turned down la migra’ification, so has the West Valley Police Department and now the Utah Highway Patrol.

 

This begs the question: if the state’s largest law enforcement groups are saying gracias, pero, no gracias carbon, then where does that money go that was appropriated for the cross deputization?

 

SB 81’s 2008 fiscal note is a little vague in its descriptions. Most of the money seems to be for new departments to hire new personnel to check the status of individuals and for new Driver’s Licenses. It does note the one time allocation of $239,700 for miscellaneous expenses. Could this be for training purposes?

 

Or is it the case that there was never state funding to help local law enforcement conduct ICE training? If so that doesn’t really help sell it to a law enforcement community already antsy about the law and how it will affect information relationships with the Latino community.

 

These are good questions, and I only speculate here because this is a blog and a not a news story. But if there is some govt. waste from this whole business, it will certainly come from the fact that SB 81 also seeks the creation of an Identity Theft task force. Yet this past session House Rep. Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace passed HB 64 which would create a strike force to investigate and go after major crime associated with undocumented immigrants. While ideally this means violent crime there’s a good probability that going after identity theft rings will end up dovetailing with the SB 81 taskforce.

 

Last but not least, Joe Q Taxpayer has to ask if SB81 will be worth it if we get sued over the E-Verify component of it, depending on how Oklahoma (who’s law we copied for our SB 81) handles their constitutional challenge. Or for example, will we get sued over the housing aspect of SB 81 like this week’s story focused on?

 

Anyway you look at it SB 81 might just be turning out all bark and no bite. The only bite might actually come from lawsuits against the state for pushing through a bill full of outrage but light on legal review into law.

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