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Utah AG: immigration law should be upheld given Supreme Court ruling

The Utah Attorney General's Office [official website] said in court documents filed with the US District Court for the District of Utah [official website] on Friday that the state's immigration law [HB 497 text, PDF] should be allowed to go into effect based on the recent US Supreme Court [official website] decision regarding Arizona's similar immigration law. The attorneys general filed a 20-page response Friday that said the Supreme Court's decision "reflects that the state of Utah acted prudently when it rejected some of the Arizona provisions and reworked others." The law requires police officers to verify the immigration status of anyone arrested for felonies and class A misdemeanors or booked into jail on class B or C misdemeanors, and allows them to verify the status of anyone detained for class B and C misdemeanors. It was challenged [JURIST report] last year by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) [advocacy websites] as both an unconstitutional interference with federal powers over immigration and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The ruling was stayed [JURIST report] in February until the Supreme Court decided the Arizona case. The attorney general now argues in the supplemental brief that the US Supreme Court's upholding of Arizona's "show me your papers" provision supports the upholding of Utah's law. The court has now received both sides' briefs and will determine shortly whether another hearing is necessary before making a decision.

Immigration laws have became a hot button issue over the past few years when many states, Arizona being the first, passed laws giving their state and local officials more power to crack down on illegal immigration. Last month, the ACLU and NICL asked [JURIST report] a federal judge to strike down a provision of Arizona's law that requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop on Equal Protection grounds. The provision was upheld [JURIST report] by the US Supreme Court but only on the grounds that it did not conflict with the federal government's powers regarding illegal immigration. This decision also struck down two provisions of Arizona's law that made it a crime to be in the state or apply for a job in the state without valid immigration papers and one that allowed police officers to arrest without a warrant people whom they believed had committed a crime which could cause them to be deported. Other states' laws have been challenged as well, but many have been made easier due to the Supreme Court's ruling. Georgia argued [JURIST report] last month that its law is valid under the ruling, while Alabama conceded that some provisions of its law would need to be changed.

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