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Governor’s budget proposal includes funds for agents to monitor refugees in Utah

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Posted at 9:39 PM, Dec 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-09 23:39:30-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- On Wednesday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert released his list of budget recommendations for the 2017 fiscal year. He is proposing an additional $360,000 for public safety when it comes to background checks for refugees.

The federal government is currently in charge of screening refugees and determining who can enter the country.

“I do believe that if the federal government knows whose in our borders, then we ought to know who’s in our borders,” Herbert said. “We are trying to work with them to get clarification, better understanding.”

The budget increase would go toward two new employees, assigned to the State Bureau of Investigation, who will work with and monitor refugees moving into Utah.

“It’s going to give an extra level of review; these folks will be specially trained to look for some troublesome signs,” Herbert said.

These agents will not only be expected to protect Utahns, but also protect the refugees.

“If there is any kind of hate crimes against these individuals, to know about that, if there is anything that raises a red flag that somehow they maybe are here to do harm to the citizens of Utah or to this country, we’ll be able to in fact ascertain that to a greater degree,” Herbert said.

The governor said this proposal isn’t about singling out any one specific country. There are currently about 60,000 refugees living in Utah. A dozen of them are from Syria.

“I mean if we think by stopping Syrian refugees we have stopped the terrorism problem, we are very naïve,” Herbert said.

The federal government can only do so much, according to Herbert, and he said it’s up to each state to also take accountability for who is coming and going.

“Nobody wants to have terrorists at our borders, and there are multiple portals where people come into our country, and if you are into one state you are into all states, I mean, that’s just the practical reality of what’s taking place out there,” Herbert said.

The governor’s public safety proposal will cost $360,000 the first year, in order to get the program started. It would be $240,000 each additional year after that.