Federal immigration authorities can deport a person who is in the United States illegally and is convicted of a crime where the sentence is for 365 days or more. A new law, H.B 244, sponsored by Rep. Eric Hutchings and signed by Gov. Gary Herbert, changed the penalty for a class A misdemeanor from a maximum of 365 days to a maximum of 364 days.
Utah has three classes of misdemeanors, with class A misdemeanors being the most serious. For more than 40 years, the maximum jail time for a class A misdemeanor has been 365 days.
Because of plea bargaining, felonies are frequently reduced down to class A misdemeanor. As a result of H.B. 244, annually hundreds of persons who are here illegally and commit serious crimes will not be deported. H.B. 244 is special legislation that protects a small percentage of our population and fails to protect the rest of us. It should be repealed.
Recently, California and New York passed laws similar to H.B. 244 that reduced the maximum penalty for class A misdemeanors to 364 days. California and New York are sanctuary states. Utah is heading in that direction.
H.B. 244 thwarts the efforts of Immigration and Customs Enforcement from deporting those who are here illegally and commit serious crime. If H.B. 244 has some purpose that protects the citizens of Utah, perhaps those who sponsored it, voted for it, and signed it, can explain that purpose to the rest of us.
Robert W. Adkins, Riverton