Undocumented Immigrant Convinces GOP Lawmaker To Oppose His Own Anti-Immigrant Law

When he was in the Utah Legislature, Stephen Sandstrom championed a “show your papers” law requiring local police to check the immigration status of suspects during felony stops, detention, or arrests. The law is similar to Arizona’s infamous and now-defunct SB 1070, which required police to check the status of anyone stopped for any reason.

Sandstrom’s law is now facing the scrutiny of a federal judge, who heard arguments last month. But, since lobbying hard for the law in 2011, Sandstrom now hopes the law is struck down. What’s more, he’s now a vocal supporter of the DREAM Act. As he explained on Wednesday, his change of heart was inspired by an undocumented student:

At this point I think it would be best for this country and the state to have him go ahead and overturn it — at least take out parts of it,” Sandstrom said. […]

He said an undocumented 19-year-old girl had approached him after a town hall meeting in the Summer of 2011 and told him she had no future despite getting good grades in school.


“Nothing else I’d heard from anybody shook me to the core more than that statement,” Sandstrom said to the crowd. “I thought this girl who put her hand over her heart and said the Pledge of Allegiance was in every way an American and she really is an American.”

Sandstrom’s law also costs the state an estimated $11 million.

Sandstrom explained his new stance on immigration after a Republican-sponsored Latino Appreciation Day at the Capitol. Some sects of the GOP have called for a more tolerant approach to immigration after 71 percent of Latinos voted for Obama in 2012. Sandstrom, who endorsed Mitt Romney for president, later attacked his “self-deportation” policy as impractical and warned that Republicans would “relegate ourselves to a minority party if we keep ignoring the Hispanic population in this country.”