SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – Utah’s repressive new immigration law, based on Arizona’s, is set to take effect May 10, but should be enjoined as unconstitutional, civic groups and a union say in a federal class action. Gov. Gary Herbert calls HB 497 a “Utah solution” to immigration – an argument similar to the one that got major sections of Arizona’s law enjoined as unconstitutional.
Two other laws – HB 496 and 116 – are also part of the “Utah solution.”
The plaintiffs say the laws “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.
Virtually all of the contested elements track those of Arizona’s SB 1070.
Herbert, a Republican, is lead defendant in the case; the other defendant is Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
Plaintiffs include the Utah Coalition of La Raza, the Service Employees International Union, Workers’ United Rocky Mountain Joint Board (an SEIU local), the Latin American Chamber of Commerce, Centro Civico Mexicano, the Salt Lake Brown Berets (a youth group), three named individuals and three Does.
Herbert signed the laws on March 15. Calling the laws a “Utah solution,” on immigration, Herbert said, “Absent any meaningful leadership from the federal government on this issue, individual states are being forced to take up the charge.”
HB 497 allows state and local officers to arrest and detain people on immigration-related grounds different from federal standards.
Officers will be required to demand immigration documentation from people they stop, detain or arrest, and those arrested for serious offenses must prove their citizenship.
People stopped by officers must present one of four qualifying identity documents or face interrogation and detention.
The complaint states: “If allowed to take effect, HB 497 will significantly harm Utahans, particularly Utahans of color. According to law enforcement officials in Utah and elsewhere, HB 497 will cause widespread racial profiling and will subject many persons of color – including countless U.S. citizens and non-citizens who have federal permission to remain in the United States – to unlawful interrogations, searches, seizures, and arrests. People of color in the state will be compelled to carry additional paperwork on them at all times in order to prove to law enforcement officials that their presence in the country is approved by the federal government.”
“HB 497 fundamentally changes the primary role and day-to-day operations of law enforcement officials … [and] establishes a de facto state alien registration scheme.”
The class claims police officers’ primary duties are to prevent and detect crime, but HB 497 “undermines this state goal by injecting an immigration enforcement directive into every police encounter.”
HB 496 and 116, creating a state program of work authorization and rules for non-citizens to live, work and study in Utah are scheduled to effect in 2012.
“The Utah legislature intentionally enacted HB 497 along with HB 116, and HB 469 as a comprehensive solution to the perceived problem of the federal government’s failure to regulate immigration to Utah’s liking. … Utah expressly intended not only to intrude into an area of exclusive federal control but indeed to supplant the federal government,” the complaint states.
It adds: “These laws impermissibly encroach into an area of sole federal authority and will interfere and conflict with the comprehensive federal immigration system enacted by Congress and implemented through a complex scheme of federal regulations and policies.”
Plaintiffs include a Mexican-born woman who married a U.S. citizen and has lived in the United States for more than 20 years, has two teen-age daughters and has “built her life in Utah.”
Another plaintiff, a U.S. citizen, married a Guatemalan woman and fears she could be taken from him if they are stopped while they await a decision on her visa application.
This man, John Doe No. 2, says he “regularly drives undocumented people to church on Tuesdays and Sundays. He is concerned that if HB 497 is implemented that he could be stopped accused of smuggling immigrants.”
The class claims that HB 497 violates the Supremacy Clause, the 4th Amendment, the right to travel, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Utah Constitution’s guarantee of uniform operations of law.
The class seeks declaratory judgment and preliminary and permanent injunctions.
They have a host of attorneys, including Karen Tumlin with the National Immigration Law Center, Cecillia Wang with the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project, and Darcy Goddard with the ACLU of Utah Foundation.