This law authorizes local police officers to ask for the immigration status of those individuals who the police suspect might be in the United States illegally. Police officers are allowed to ask about people’s status based on the race and physical appearance of those who are arrested for felonies and class A misdemeanors and those who are in jail for class B and class C misdemeanors. People detained for class B and class C misdemeanors could also be asked by police officers about their immigration status. Clearly this is a terrible example of racial profiling which reminds us of Arizona’s HB1070. The Supreme Court’s recent ruling on Arizona’s controversial immigration enforcement law could support the possibility that Utah’s HB497 is unconstitutional.
The Utah Coalition of La Raza which encourages the quality of life of the Hispanic community in Utah asked in court filings that U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups grant a preliminary injunction against the Utah Law.
In addition, attorneys representing the National Immigration Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union and lawyers for the Department of Justice previously asked Waddoups to stop the Utah law from going into effect.
The Supreme Court has ruled several times regarding the Arizona’s SB1070. For instance, at the end of June, it struck down crucial provisions against immigrants but ruled that a section of the law concerning suspect’s status could go forward.
The Court decided that an individual cannot be called a criminal if he fails to bring with him the documents which identify him. Furthermore, an undocumented person looking for a job cannot be criminalized. Finally, the court ruled that the state CANNOT arrest people based on the thought that a person is out of status.
The preliminary injunction should be granted on a segment of the Utah law which discusses penalties for transporting or harboring “aliens” and on arrests where a peace officer has “reasonable cause to believe that a person is an alien”.
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