FBI Nixes Utah's Background Check Law on Undocumented | Buzz Blog

Thursday, July 2, 2015

FBI Nixes Utah's Background Check Law on Undocumented

Posted By on July 2, 2015, 1:14 PM

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click to enlarge Luis Garza, head of Comunidades Unidas
  • Luis Garza, head of Comunidades Unidas
Several months ago City Weekly highlighted concerns among immigration advocates that Senate Bill 184, which came into effect on July 1, 2015, would sow fear and despair in Utah's undocumented community. 

The story, Wolf's Mouth, explored the ramifications of Utah asking the FBI to use its national database to do background checks on undocumented residents applying to renew their Driver's Privilege Card (DPC). 

Advocates feared that immigrants who had illegally returned to the United States after visiting family members abroad, been caught, deported and then successfully made it back to Utah, would choose to drive without a privilege card license rather than face being red-flagged to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Under the new law, Utah intended to share the information it got from the FBI with Utah's ICE through a secure website. 

But mounting concern among Utah's undocumented population about the possibility of ICE identifying significant numbers of immigrants with illegal re-entry histories appears to be receding, since the FBI has effectively pulled the plug on the law.

According to a June 30, 2015 news story in The Salt Lake Tribune by Lee Davdison, the FBI informed Utah it cannot access the database to do background checks, because its policies forbid the sharing of information from the database even with other federal agencies. 

For now, undocumented immigrants need not fear that Utah is passing along information to the FBI. And Utah—in its efforts to identify undocumented immigrants with criminal histories—must continue to rely on state databases and a regional criminal database.

Comunidades Unidas' executive director Luis Garza welcomed the news. "We are happy about the FBI's decision," he says. "Our community will feel more comfortable applying for the DPC."

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