SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert said Tuesday that two state workers were responsible for compiling and distributing a list of personal information of 1,300 purported illegal immigrants, and that both would be fired.
State officials had been investigating as many as 10 employees for possible involvement, but nobody else will face disciplinary action.
"Others may have been aware, but not complicit," Herbert said.
Herbert also said that one of the implicated workers, whose names have not been released, was a temporary employee and already has been fired while the other is expected to be terminated by Wednesday. One has confessed to being involved, Herbert said.
Herbert's remarks came after a summit Tuesday on illegal immigration in which he said the public release of the list last week was damaging to immigration reform efforts. At the meeting, lawmakers, law enforcement and community leaders discussed duplicating an Arizona-style crackdown on immigration and a potential guest worker program, which Herbert said may have some appeal.
The list of purported illegal immigrants, which was mailed to law enforcement officials and the news media, contains Social Security numbers, birth dates, workplaces, addresses and phone numbers; names of children are included, along with due dates of pregnant women. An attached letter demands that those on it be deported, although some on it have said they are in the country legally.
The list sent chills through Hispanic community, with many fearing they could be unfairly targeted. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have acknowledged receiving the list but declined to say whether anyone on it is being investigated.
The two employees implicated in the list's compilation both work for the Department of Workforce Services, which administers food stamps and Medicaid programs. Herbert said the employees gathered the information in a methodical manner to get around department security protocols.
Intentionally releasing a private record in Utah is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Herbert has said federal laws may also have been violated. Information gathered in the internal probe will be turned over to the attorney general's office on Wednesday for possible prosecution; that office will also conduct its own investigation.
The summit Tuesday had been planned before the release of the list, primarily in response to calls from conservative state lawmakers looking to pass an immigration law similar to Arizona's.
Arizona's law, which takes effect July 29, directs police enforcing other laws to determine a suspect's immigration status if there is reason to believe the person is in the U.S. illegally. The Obama administration has sued Arizona to throw out the law and keep other states from copying it.
Utah Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, told attendees that he still intends to sponsor a similar bill when lawmakers convene in January.
Herbert has said he will sign an immigration bill into law if he's still governor in January following a special election, but it's unclear what that might look like. On Tuesday, he said a specific immigration proposal would not come out of his office, but he would work with lawmakers on their proposals.
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