One Utah state employee was fired for compiling and releasing a document with the names and private information of 1,300 purported undocumented immigrants, state officials announced Tuesday. A second employee, who has been on administrative leave since last week, has been served with "an intent to terminate employment," reported Utah's Deseret News.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said yesterday that he plans to turn over his investigation today to Attorney General Mark Shurtleff for a forthcoming criminal investigation. It's possible that the two Utah Department of Workforce Services employees broke state and federal laws by assembling and releasing the 29-page list to news outlets and law enforcement agencies. Yesterday, state officials announced that they widened their investigation to eight additional state employees.
Herbert called the employees' scheming to get inside private government databases "methodical, thoughtful, very planned," and said that one of the employees had confessed to the crime, reported Deseret News.
The document contained people's birth dates, home and work addresses, phone numbers, private health information and family members. The employee who was fired was a temporary worker responsible for maintaining state databases. The list was released by a group calling themselves Concerned Citizens of the United States. They demanded that the people listed in the documented be deported.
The AP reported last week that intentionally releasing private records is a misdemeanor, for which the former employees could face a $1,000 fine and six months of jail time. But if those records were stolen, the workers could face a felony conviction, a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
No matter the outcome of the criminal investigation, the damage to the local immigrant community has already been done. Last week Jamilah King reported that news of the release had terrified the local immigrant population in Utah. Local community groups have been barraged with phone calls from people desperate to know if their family's privacy has been violated.
Utah's also one of a growing number of states considering copycat legislation mirroring Arizona's SB 1070, the new law that makes it a state crime to be undocumented in Arizona.
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