Indeed, nearly 200 immigration-related bills passed state and local legislatures between 2007 and 2009, in 40 states and ranging in topic from law enforcement and employer verification to identification and licenses, according to Catherine Wilson, an immigration specialist at the political science department at Villanova University.
Whatever motivated those who compiled the lists – some suggest the public's patience with the federal government's failure to enforce immigration laws and protect the interests of American workers and taxpayers is wearing out – the plan may have backfired. Its release may cause a backlash that harms the cause it sought to boost, immigration experts say.
“Popular movements can become extreme and produce blowback, and the illegal release of names in Utah may do that,” says Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. “Conspicuous violation of the law is always controversial and takes the focus off of the problem of illegal immigration that the disclosure was about in the first place," he says. "So in that sense, it’s counterproductive.”
Governor Herbert’s two-hour meeting is intended to bring together both sides of a brewing battle on how Utah should address undocumented immigration.
On one side is Rep. Stephen Sandstrom who is pushing a bill similar to Arizona’s tough new law that allows law enforcement to verify the citizenship status of those they stop under suspicion of other crimes. On the other is Shurtleff, who wants to implement a state-sanctioned guest worker program with potential paths to citizenship.
Whether the summit can achieve anything is up for debate, as both sides seem to be approaching it cautiously.