Website lets people self-report suspected undocumented immigrants

Published: Saturday, May 5 2012 5:38 p.m. MDT

In this Sept. 28, 2010 photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent drives along the international border fence near Nogales, Ariz. The Supreme Court agreed Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 to rule on Arizona's controversial law targeting illegal immigrants. The justices said they will review a federal appeals court ruling that blocked several tough provisions in the Arizona law. One of those requires that police, while enforcing other laws, question a person's immigration status if officers suspect he is in the country illegally. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Matt York, AP

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SALT LAKE CITY  — A website designed to "expose" people in countries illegally will only perpetuate discrimination, encourage hostility and lead to safety concerns, according to a mix of a few Utahns who heard about its basic premise.

"It's a huge concern," said Tony Yapias, a community activist and Latino advocate. "We don't know who these people are who are supplying the information and they can just put anything on there that they want. I would just hope law enforcement and others would be careful with these type of websites."

Since its launch,  IllegalAlienReport.com <http://IllegalAlienReport.com>  has accumulated a massive database of information about people suspected of being in a country illegally, as well as documentation of employers who hire undocumented workers.

According to a press release, Illegal Alien Report was created by a professional search engine marketer who built a foundation to disseminate information for people looking for reports of "illegal aliens," the businesses hiring them or citizens tafficking in illegal people. It also includes a forum for online discussions, a gift store with some merchandise Yapias described as "outrageous" and the latest news related to illegal immigration.

The site, which includes submissions from portions of Europe, has user-generated reports listed by page after page after page, including one submitted about a Utah man who is alleged to be illegal, abusive to his wife and employed at a Davis County business that hires "illegals."

Yapias said the site is yet another example of social media unrestrained without any checks or balances or requisite fact-checking.

"In today's world, we have this information available immediately and it could be unfounded information or misinformation," Yapias said. "People have to be really, really careful about something like this. I think in general Utahns have been very, very good, but there will be a few individuals who will use this website to cause problems for certain people."

James Howell and his wife Melissa Howell had just finished lunch at an Ogden restaurant on Saturday afternoon, and pondered the implications of such a site.

"To me, the problem would be how you could slander people without proof," he said. "But, word of mouth gets around. If (immigration enforcement officials) aren't doing their job correctly, I can see where it might be a way to bring attention to someone."

"Especially employers," his wife chimed in.

Up the street at the Weber County Library, Alan Gibson had just finished surfing the internet and said the website appears problematic to him.

"I don't think that it is a good thing," he said. "People need to have proof, but I don't know where you get that."

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com
Twitter: amyjoi16

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