MICHELE NORRIS, host:
In Utah, some 1,300 people have found themselves on a list, one that's been sent to the media and to law enforcement agencies. It includes their names, birthdays, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, home and work addresses. Some pregnant women even had their due dates listed. The point of the list, according to the group that compiled it, is to out people the group believes are living in Utah illegally and should, quote, "be deported immediately."
The group is called Concerned Citizens of the United States, though who those citizens are is anyone's guess. The group's membership is, at this point, anonymous.
For more on this story, I'm joined by Nate Carlisle. He's been covering this story for the Salt Lake Tribune. Nate, thanks so much for being with us.
Mr. NATE CARLISLE (Journalist, Salt Lake Tribune): Thank you.
NORRIS: What do we know about how this group was able to access so much private information?
Mr. CARLISLE: We only have the cover letter they sent with the list and it says that, first, they observed the individuals and then they did some extra work to confirm it. That seems to imply they used the old-fashioned leg work and maybe some interviewing. But there's a lot of data here and it's tough for me to believe that they did this all just by going door to door or sitting in a car with binoculars.
NORRIS: Does that suggest that they may have done some sort of data mining to get this information?
Mr. CARLISLE: You know, that's the assumption right now in a lot of parties. And the governor of Utah has ordered a review of various state agencies to determine if anyone there made an unauthorized access of data.
Utah law makes it a criminal offense to disclose data that's not deemed to be public. So you could even have some criminal charges resulting from this.
NORRIS: How did you first come across the list? How did you learn about this?
Mr. CARLISLE: It was mailed to us. It was mailed to news outlets and government agencies across Utah. It began arriving in mailboxes on Monday. The package that went to the Salt Lake Tribune came in just a plain manila envelope and the cover letter asked for news outlets in the state of Utah to publish the information.
NORRIS: You know, help me understand what the legal ramifications are here, because if someone called law enforcement authorities and said a crime is being committed at the corner of 16th and Main Street, there'd be some expectation that the government would respond. It sounds like here they're trying to alert the government to activity that they claim is illegal.
Mr. CARLISLE: You just hit on one of the most hot-button topics of the immigration debate that anti-illegal immigration advocates say that the government should be responding just as you described, as a crime in progress. Local police in Utah typically have said this is a federal government issue and it's a civil issue at that.
My experience with ICE is that they aren't going to pursue just your average undocumented immigrant working a nine-to-five job, that they pursue the people who have committed some kind of crime or been booked into a jail. Occasionally, we've seen them do the big round-ups at poultry plants or other workplace.
The list in question, there are 1,300 names across the entire state of Utah. In some fairness to ICE, I don't see how it's practical to start in Salt Lake City, work your way 300 miles down to St. George, and then start working across to Moab. That would take a tremendous amount of manpower. And then you'd have to assume that all 1,300 names are even undocumented immigrants who should be deported.
NORRIS: Nate Carlisle, thanks for talking to us.
Mr. CARLISLE: Thank you.
NORRIS: That's Nate Carlisle. He's a justice reporter with the Salt Lake Tribune.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.