Utah reaches settlement over immigration law News
Utah reaches settlement over immigration law

[JURIST] The Utah Attorney General’s Office [official website] reached a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on Tuesday over a controversial immigration law [HB 497]. The “Utah Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act” was criticized as encouraging racial profiling as it allowed police officers to stop individuals to verify their legal status or arrest them without a warrant, “when the peace officer ha[d] reasonable cause to believe that the person [was] an alien.” The proposed settlement [text, PDF] permanently prohibits Utah from enforcing Sections 6(2) and 11 of HB 497, and section 76-10-2901 of the Utah Criminal Code [text, website] as amended. It also reconstructs several sections of HB 497. The ACLU and other advocacy groups welcomed this settlement as a triumph against laws perpetuating racial profiling [press release]. The executive director of the Utah ACLU, Karen McCreary, said, “We are pleased with the outcome of this settlement knowing that it paves the way for Utah to address broad issues impacting family and community safety without the scourge of fear and racial profiling this law created.”

US immigration law [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be a controversial and heavily politicized area of law. Last week President Barack Obama [official website] announced execution action [remarks] on immigration that would allow 4.7 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the US [JURIST report]. Earlier this month a judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] struck down [order, PDF] an Arizona law that made smuggling immigrants a state crime [JURIST report] because it conflicted with federal laws governing immigration. Also, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund [official website] filed [JURIST report] a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement [official websites] alleging widespread sexual abuse and harassment taking place at the immigration family detention center of Karnes City, Texas. In August the ACLU settled a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] requiring US immigration authorities to ensure that undocumented Mexican immigrants are made aware of their right to a hearing before an immigration judge. In June the Obama administration announced that it would boost the ranks of immigration judges, lawyers and asylum officers [JURIST report] to decrease the flow of undocumented children into the country.