SALT LAKE CITY – Advocacy groups have asked federal officials to investigate last month's distribution of a list of 1,300 purported illegal immigrants in Utah.
The organizations asked regional Food Stamp and Medicaid program administrators in a letter Friday to respond publicly to the privacy breach and to offer training to state employees on federal privacy laws.
"Nobody is going to apply for these programs if there is a risk they will be publicly shamed and embarrassed for it," Glenn Bailey of the Crossroads Urban Center wrote in a statement.
The list was anonymously sent to law enforcement and local media, demanding that those on it be deported. The public release of the list created panic among many in the Hispanic community who feared they would be unfairly targeted by immigration officials.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services says the personal information came from its databases and has identified two of its employees as being responsible.
The letter was signed by Bailey, the Citizen's Education Project, the Disabled Rights Action Committee, lawyer Mark Alvarez, Michael Clara of the Utah Republican Hispanic Assembly, Linda Hilton of the Coalition of Religious Communities and Bill Tibbitts of the Anti-Hunger Action Committee.
The groups' letter was sent to Darlene Barnes, regional administrator of the U.S. Agriculture Department's Food and Nutrition Service, and Jeff Hinson, regional administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The letter also asks them to work to "restore the public's trust that when people in Utah apply for federal nutrition and health care programs, they will not face public ridicule and embarrassment or worse."
Officials in the agencies' Denver offices did not respond to a request for comment.
The creation and distribution of the list remains under investigation by the Utah Attorney General's Office.
Intentionally releasing a private record in Utah is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com