ACLU asks for halt on state immigration law

Published: Friday, May 6 2011 3:39 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — As promised, the ACLU and National Immigration Law Center have asked for an injunction to halt implementation of new illegal immigration legislation set to go into effect Tuesday.

Both groups filed a complaint in federal court this week. On Friday, they filed a memorandum asking that a federal magistrate judge issue a preliminary injunction to keep HB497 from being implemented.

The illegal immigration enforcement-related bill has been characterized as a milder version of similar legislation that was previously passed in Arizona. It was voted into Utah law at the last legislative session.

Advocates for the bill say it eliminates the controversial components found in the Arizona enforcement law.

But critics, such as the ACLU — which with the National Immigration Law Center filed the complaint on behalf of a number of individuals and organizations — say it's essentially the same and an inherent violation of U.S. constitutional rights. They also say it both conflicts and overlaps with federal laws already in place.

In their request for an injunction, they argue that keeping the law from being enforced is not adverse to the public interest and that they're likely to succeed on their claim. They say implementation would result in irreparable harm.

"HB497 subjects certain persons in Utah to unconstitutional detention while police officers investigate immigration status," the memorandum states. "If HB497 takes effect, plaintiffs will be at risk of discriminatory treatment, unwarranted police scrutiny, prolonged detentions, and arrest every time they come into contact with Utah law enforcement."

HB497 requires police to check the immigration status of people they arrest for felonies and serious misdemeanors. Officers may check the status of those suspected of less serious misdemeanors.

The U.S. Department of Justice indicated it may also sue the state over the package of illegal immigration bills the Legislature approved this year. State leaders have been meeting with Department of Justice attorneys in the hope that the state could make its own changes before it came to legal action.

Email: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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