First Hand report by attendee of the Richfield meeting:
Last night I went to the Utah Legislative Illegal Immigration Committee hearing last night in Richfield. I didn't have any takers on the invitation to drive to Richfield with me and so I went by myself. It was very different than the other hearings. The folks out in the hinterlands are much different than those along the Wasatch Front.
There were about 15 people in attendance other than those on the committee and agenda. CCII from Wasatch County had about 7 or 8 and myself, so members of UCII (Utah Council on Illegal Immigration), made up about half of the citizens in attendance. There was plenty of time at the end for public comment. There were about 7 that spoke and no one was restricted on time, and the hearing still ended about 50 minutes early.
Denny Drake a Washington County Commissioner has an excellent understanding of the issue of illegal immigration and gave the committee a lot of good information on E-Verify and 287g in their county. He related some of the efforts that they are making in the county to solve their problem. CCII has done an excellent job with their county commission.
Kirk Smith Washington County Sheriff Is also well informed and is moving forward with 287g. They now have two deputies qualified, and will report on their progress. He recounted some of the crime problems that they are having, especially with illegal drugs. He told them that 100% of the recent marijuana farming operations in Southern Utah were being run by illegal aliens. Here again credit must be given to CCII for educating their sheriff.
Richfield Chamber of Commerce: This was a surprise. They had visited many of their members and found that they don't want to hire illegal aliens and would like to know how they can tell if they are illegal. (They must not have checked with their state or national leaders) These people said they were hearing for the first time at the hearing, about E-Verify and would like to get training on it. For those of you that are surprised about this don't be. It is a different world out there in rural Utah.
Gary Mason Chair of Sevier County Commission: Also said that he and those he knew were not in favor of illegal immigration, and as citizens opposed it, but didn't know what to do about it. He also said that no one knows how to tell if they are hiring illegals or not since they all have ID.
Phil Barney Sevier County Sheriff: Identified some of the crime problems that they are having and also reported that they are unable to identify illegals. He did tell about one of his deputies that arrested a guy for DUI that was probably illegal but had to let him go after the local court dealt with the DUI. Several months later the same guy was arrested for DUI, but with a different ID. He would have gotten away, but it happened that it was the same deputy and he recognized him as being the same person, and so charged him with ID fraud in addition to the previous crimes. His main complaint was that they have very little support from ICE. He said that he guessed that they were just too far from St. George or Provo.
Public Comment Time was primarily taken by UCII members. However the ACLU had a lawyer there that went through the 14th Amendment of the Constitution with them and other rights that make management of the illegal problem difficult. Also, there was a woman there that spoke up for the Catholic Church who was in favor of not making any laws that would restrict the illegal immigrants in Utah.Tentative dates were set for the next committee hearings were October 22nd, Nov 17th, and December 3rd. No place or time was decided, but they did say that they would still like to go to St George. It would be nice if we could get more citizen support next time.