(CN) – A federal judge blocked new Arizona-modeled immigration laws from taking effect in Utah this week.
On March 15, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed HB 497 into law, requiring cops to demand immigration documentation from people they stop, detain or arrest. Those arrested for serious offenses must prove their citizenship, under the law.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, which represents certain plaintiff’s challenging the legislation, calls it the “Show Me Your Papers” Law. Its legal director said she was “pleased” with the court’s decision.
“We are pleased the court has ordered that the law cannot take effect until the court has ample time to review the case in full,” legal director Darcy Goddard said. “We anticipate proving to the court that this discriminatory law threatens the rights of all people in Utah. Like Arizona’s SB 1070, the Utah law violates the Constitution and is even worse in requiring all Utahans to carry their ‘papers’ at all times to prove they are lawfully present.”
Though virtually all of the contested elements of Utah’s law track those of Arizona’s SB 1070, which courts have blocked for likely constitutional violations, Utah has officially distanced itself from the Arizona law.
Herbert called HB 497 “Utah’s solution” to immigration, a phrase that nevertheless echoes the defense of Arizona’s immigration law.
Two other laws – HB 496 and 116 – are also part of the “Utah solution.”
More than 10 plaintiffs – including several civic groups, undocumented and legal immigrants and a union – sued the state’s Republican Gov. Gary R. Herbert and his Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on May 3 in a class action to block it.
The plaintiffs say enforcement of the law “will cause widespread racial profiling,” undermine day-to-day police operations, force state officers to arrest immigration suspects based on standards different from federal ones, usurp the federal power to enforce immigrations, and institute “a punitive immigration system” that will require state ID for workers.
Their arguments convinced U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups, who issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday – one day before the law was scheduled to take effect.
“Plaintiffs presented evidence to support their assertion that their constitutional rights will be violated if H.B. 497 goes into effect,” Waddoups wrote in a three-page order. “The court concludes that such harm is irreparable.”
The judge will hear both parties’ arguments for a preliminary injunction on July 14.
Utah’s Attorney General’s Office told Courthouse News that their law is “constitutional and will ultimately stand up in court.”
“The Utah Attorney General’s Office worked closely with the legislature to make sure the law was practical and legally defendable,” spokesman Paul Murphy said in a statement. “Most of the objections against HB 497 seem to be directed to the controversial aspects of the Arizona immigration enforcement law and are not relevant to the Utah law.”
A legal team representing the plaintiffs, the National Immigration Law Center, said it anticipates the fight.
“We look forward to fighting to ensure that this unconstitutional law, which would subject people, particularly people of color, to unlawful interrogation and detention, and create a climate of fear in immigrant communities, will be removed entirely from the books,” its general counsel Linton Joaquin wrote in a statement.