Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Yesterday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit against the state of Utah to block the implementation of HB 497, which mandates that local police enforce immigration laws. Several provisions of the law have already been enjoined as a result of previous legal challenges from immigrant rights groups. The DOJ claims that HB 497 violates the Constitution, and the suit is consistent with its other challenges in Alabama, Arizona and South Carolina.
Utah's HB 497 is similar to Arizona's SB1070, however Utah state legislators attempted to couple the enforcement bill with a state-level guest-worker program. The guest-worker program is not yet being challenged by DOJ, as it does not go into effect until 2013.
The DOJ press release states that "the law’s mandates on law enforcement could lead to harassment and detention of foreign visitors and legal immigrants who are in the process of having their immigration status reviewed in federal proceedings and whom the federal government has permitted to stay in this country while such proceedings are pending."