The Immigration Issue Moved One Step Forward With Utah’s Senate Bill 138

Story by Makaylee Pettit
Melinda Lyon, a student at Utah State University said she was heart broken when she renewed her license last July. She witnessed a Hispanic man yelling at a worker because his wife had no way of showing more identification.

“His wife was bawling and the front desk lady was almost in tears. They had to be asked to leave by security,” said Lyon.

This year a bill was proposed to eliminate driving privilege cards as an attempt to aid in the issue of immigration. This resulted in more requirements making the cards harder to obtain.

Utah allows three types of driver licenses to be obtained: one for citizens, one for legal non-citizens and one for illegal aliens. In February of 2011, Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George set out to eliminate the latter of the three by proposing Senate Bill 138.

He argued that illegal aliens are allowed to present documentation that could too easily be forged, allowing the creation of false identity.

SB-138 did pass, but with a substitution made by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, who was the original author of the law that authorized the driving privilege card in 2005. The substitution added the requirement of fingerprinting to obtain a card instead of eliminating it.

Urquhart was disappointed with the result and feels changes still need to be made. In a blog post he said, “That’s not what I think we should do, but it is a step forward.”

He also said, “Right now, the Utah Legislature is battling out several approaches to the illegal immigration issue. With the varying approaches we’re considering, we’ve probably managed to tick off every citizen in the State.”

Urquhart said at the end of the day much of what they are doing is challenged and overturned by the federal government because immigration is their job.

Resident of Hurricane, Utah, Mike Hinkleman, agreed with Urquhart and said he was surprised to discover that Utah of all places is issuing drivers licenses to undocumented aliens.

Hinkleman said this was driver license division’s clerk response when asked if illegal aliens could obtain a license, “…Don’t you think it’s better for them to be driving with a license then with no license?” They have to provide evidence that they paid taxes in Utah.

Hinkleman questions how many illegal aliens pay any tax to any governmental agency or state. He said the practice makes Utah look stupid and wants it to be stopped because it’s dangerous.

Though it’s not his desired result Urquhart himself said, the new requirement is a step forward in the immigration issue. When the application and fingerprints are completed they are sent to the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security to check for felonies.


Nanette Rolfe, director of public safety, told the Salt Lake Tribune in the article, “Undocumented Utah drivers to be fingerprinted,” by David Montero, that as long as an individual is upholding the law there is no reason to be afraid of the fingerprinting.