Sutherland Institute executive director Paul Mero said half the bill is identical to the Arizona law. He called the Utah bill a "civil rights nightmare."
"It uses the illusion of law enforcement to simply hunt down a group of people we imagine are ruining our society," he said. "This bill would create a false positive in the minds of citizens."
Mero said Utah would look neither smart nor courageous in passing the law.
Sandstrom said only people who want to vilify the proposal refer to it as an Arizona-style bill. His measure, he said, is in "sound legal territory." And, he said, any economic fallout in Arizona was short-lived.
Rep. David Butterfield, R-Logan, said he struggled with the bill for a long time before figuring out what it's meant to accomplish.
"We are targeting illegal immigrants who are committing the worst crimes among us," he said. "I really can't understand what is embarrassing and unreasonable about trying to verify the legal status of the ones committing the worst crimes."
Jim Wall, of the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, said HB70 is not in keeping with the Utah Compact, a document signed by state business, government and religious leaders that encourages federal solutions and preserving families among other things.
Arturo Morales-LLan, of Legal Immigrants for Immigration Law Enforcement, asked lawmakers to "validate the faith of your constituents" who want something done about illegal immigration.
"We need to take care of our own people and help them find jobs," he said. "That's your duty."
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