Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Utah Student Arrested for Threatening to Kill Professor Over Differing Immigration Views

Guest Blogger • May 22, 2011

Last week, Aaron Michael Heineman, a Utah Valley University student, was arrested by FBI agents for threatening e-mails he sent to several professors.

One e-mail contained an offensive poem aimed at professors who openly expressed pro-immigrant views.  The poem used Nazi terminology and called its recipients “lovers of illegal aliens and the Mestizo subrace [sic].”  

Heineman also vividly described how he would kill his victims “by a bowie knife shoved up your skull” and “put the noose around your neck and drag you as you choke and gasp.”

Heineman told the FBI the poem expressed “his anger towards people who are against America and those who try to kill democracy and support illegal immigrants.”

Although Heineman admitted in an FBI interview that he was simply expressing himself and that he had no intent to harm anyone, his letter should be a wake-up call to anyone who takes the issue of politically-motivated violence lightly.

Perhaps the threatening e-mail was in response to the recent package of immigration reform bills signed by Utah Governor Gary Herbert.  One of the bills, HB 497, requires police to check the immigration status of anyone convicted of a felony and some misdemeanors.  Just 24 hours after the bill went into effect, it was blocked, and a temporary restraining order was issued against it.

The ACLU has compared the bill to the controversial  Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, which allows police to request proof of citizenship from anyone they suspect may be an immigrant.

The other bills that were enacted create programs to help immigrant workers find jobs and allow U.S. citizens to sponsor undocumented immigrants who want to work and study in the U.S.

All in all, the issue of immigration reform is a divisive one that can lead certain people to resort to violence.  Read more about why it is important to keep hateful rhetoric and dehumanizing language out of the immigration debate here, here, and here.

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