Utah officials have identified at least two state workers who apparently accessed confidential documents to create a list of 1,300 purported illegal immigrants.
Gov. Gary Herbert said Friday that the employees work for the Department of Workforce Services, which administers food stamp programs and other public benefits. The employees have been placed on administrative leave.
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 have said they are in the country legally.
The Utah attorney general's office also will investigate and decide whether to file charges.
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.
The governor's office has said it will give information about the breach to the state attorney general's office by Monday so it can decide whether to file charges.
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.
The investigation continued 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.
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