A spokeswoman for Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that investigators have found evidence suggesting a state database was breached to create a list of 1,300 purported illegal immigrants that has been circulating around the state.
News media, law enforcement and other government officials started receiving the list of names and personal information this week, creating widespread fear in the Hispanic community. The anonymous mailing demands that those on the list be deported, although some named on the list have said they are in the country legally.
Archie Archuleta, president of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, called on those who received the list to ignore it.
"The use of private information to intimidate the Latino community is wrong and wrong-headed. The fact that a third party is using this information to target children and pregnant women is extremely troubling," he said.
Herbert spokeswoman Angie Welling said information about the breach will likely be turned over to the Utah attorney general's office to investigate by Monday.
The list contains Social Security numbers, birth dates, workplaces, addresses and phone numbers. Names of children are included, along with due dates of pregnant women.
Intentionally releasing a private record in Utah is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If someone stole such a record, it could be prosecuted as a felony with a penalty punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Welling said the list appears to have been created from information kept by the Department of Workforce Services and technology department workers are focusing all of their efforts there. The department administers the state's food stamp and children's health insurance programs, along with other benefits.
"That agency assigned a staff of 10 IT people who are almost continuously working on this," she said. "They will continue to drill down on it."
Welling said the investigation would continue Friday, even though state employees usually have the day off as part of the state's four-day workweek to cut energy costs.
The investigation comes as Herbert, a Republican, prepares to host a public immigration summit Tuesday. Herbert has said he will sign an immigration bill into law next year if he's still in office, but it's unclear how closely that bill might mirror one lawmakers recently passed in Arizona.
Arizona's law, which takes effect July 29, directs police enforcing other laws to determine a suspect's immigration status if there is reason to believe the person is in the U.S. illegally. The Obama administration has sued Arizona to throw out the law and keep other states from copying it.
A federal judge in Phoenix heard arguments Thursday in one of seven lawsuits trying to stop the new law, but she did not make any ruling.
Several conservative Utah lawmakers have said they would like Utah's law to mirror the one in Arizona. Much of the conversation Tuesday is expected to focus on that possibility.
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