Some of Utah's state troopers could soon be able to enforce immigration law under a bill that the House approved Friday in a 44-25 vote.
HB237 would require the Department of Public Safety to enter into a 287g agreement with the Department of Homeland Security. That agreement would allow some troopers to receive federal training to do some immigration enforcement during their normal duty.
"It does not cross-deputize officers," Donnelson said. "It will not pull officers from their normal duties. They have the authority to enforce federal immigration laws, the authority to question, detain and charge and individual who is illegally in the United States."
The vote came despite concerns raised by Democrats that it could lead to racial profiling and wrongful arrest of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.
An amendment proposed by Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, would have held liable the agencies employing law officers who violated civil rights. It was voted down after Donnelson said it wasn't needed because law officers found to engage in racial profiling would be eliminated from the program under the agreement.
But Litvack said his amendment was meant to "strike a balance" between law enforcement and constitutional protection.
"I am just clarifying, if this authority is given, as a body that holds dear freedom and constitutional rights, that we do it judiciously, do it carefully and do it cautiously," he said.
The bill now moves to the Senate. Last year, a similar bill sponsored by Donnelson also received House approval, but it died waiting for a Senate hearing in the late hours of the last session.