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Utah Lawmakers Question How Immigration Bill Would Fit Into Existing Law

In Utah, illegal immigrants can be granted driver’s privilege cards to prove their driving eligibility even if they cannot prove legal residence to get a state-issued driver’s license. But as state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom (R) pushes for an immigration enforcement law requiring police to verify immigration status “upon reasonable suspicion the person is an illegal immigrant,” lawmakers question how the law can coexist with driver’s privilege cards that would automatically provide reason for officers to suspect illegal status.

At a meeting with the Utah Republican Hispanic Assembly Wednesday, Sandstrom discussed the potential conflict between the bill and a 2005 law creating diver’s privilege cards. “You show a driving-privilege card, that could pretty much shows reasonable suspicion that you are here illegally,” Sandstrom said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “I don’t know how to fix that.”

Sandstrom did issue one proposal for resolving the issue: removing the driver’s privilege card altogether. But proponents of the law and immigrant rights groups argue removing the driver’s privilege card — or causing illegal immigrants to fear they would betray illegal status under a Sandstrom’s immigration bill — could have a negative impact on public safety. Immigration lawyers have argued the law could deter illegal immigrants from obtaining the cards, which could mean more unlicensed and uninsured drivers on Utah’s roads.

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