Salt Lake City police chief testifies against Scott Gardner Act before U.S. House committee

Published: Wednesday, March 7 2012 4:05 p.m. MST

WASHINGTON — Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank testified against HR3808 Wednesday before the House Committee on the Judiciary.

The resolution, also known as the Scott Gardner Act, directs local law enforcement to take into custody those individuals believed to be unlawfully in the United States who are arrested for drunk driving or similar violations.

Burbank testified that the resolution would increase stress on already overcrowded detention centers, resulting in the release of criminal offenders.

The Salt Lake County Jail, he said, currently releases 700 to 900 criminals each month due to overcrowding. Burbank told the committee about a man who was released after spending 45 minutes in jail for exposing himself to children on an elementary school playground.

He also gave the example of the 2007 Trolley Square shooting in which an 18-year-old Bosnian refugee killed five and injured several others, and rhetorically suggested that the community sentiment would have rounded up all Bosnian immigrants in Salt Lake City for questions. 

"As overreaching and ridiculous as it seems, is this bill not moving us in the same direction?" Burbank asked. "As set forth in HR3808, the loose interpretation of the reasonable standard pertaining to immigration status checks will undoubtedly place more individuals into the criminal justice system awaiting determination."

Burbank speculated that the bill, if enacted, would lead to racial profiling. He also called the bill unconstitutional for establishing blanket requirements for state and local officers.

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