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Salt Lake City chief testifies against immigration bill

Published March 7, 2012 3:53 pm

Immigration • Bill would allow legal status check on drunk drivers.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Salt Lake City's police chief panned legislation that would let law enforcement check the immigration status of drunk drivers suspected of being in the country illegally, saying it would lead to racial profiling.

Chief Chris Burbank testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday about the Scott Gardner Act, named for a North Carolina man who was killed in 2005 by an intoxicated undocumented immigrant who had four previous DUIs.

The legislation would allow police to use federal databases to check the immigration status of a person arrested for drunk driving that they suspect to be in the country illegally.

And it would require the Homeland Security Department to deport the person and reimburse local law enforcement for the cost.

"The Scott Gardner Act gives law enforcement officers at the local and state level the resources and ability to protect their citizens," said Rep. Sue Myrick, R-NC, who is the sponsor of the legislation, which she has introduced every session since 2005.

Burbank argues that the only way law enforcement could enforce the bill is to make judgments based on the race or accent of the people they arrest.

"The bottom line is that to enforce this you have to racially profile," he said.

He defended the current law that allows for deportations of people involved with felonies and while he says drunk driving is serious, "it's still a misdemeanor traffic offense."