Federal judge blocks portions of Utah immigration law

Posted at 8:04 PM, Jun 18, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – A federal judge moved to block a portion of Utah’s immigration law Wednesday afternoon.

House Bill 497 was passed in 2011, and almost immediately after it was passed several civil rights groups sued to stop it from going into effect.

Those opposed claimed the law is unconstitutional, including the portion of the law that allows officers to stop people and ask them about their immigration status. The portions of the law blocked Wednesday include areas dealing with harboring undocumented individuals, warrantless arrests and enforcement.

Officials with the ACLU in Utah are asking state officials to repeal the law entirely.

Officials with the Attorney General’s Office released the following statement following the judge’s ruling:

“The Attorney General’s Office has evaluated the legal consequences of the Utah District Court’s decision regarding Utah’s immigration law HB497, passed by the Utah Legislature and signed into law by Governor Gary Herbert in 2011. Significantly, the decision affirms that there is a role for State action related to the area of immigration enforcement. The Court, following the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Arizona v. United States, held that, with certain limitations, the verification provision (section 3), the identification provision (section 4), the transportation provision (section 5), and the provision barring any State or local restriction on law enforcement authority to assist federal officials in immigration matters (section 6) are not preempted and accordingly, not subject to preliminary injunction.

Although Judge Waddoups determined that section 10 (dealing with the harboring of undocumented individuals) and section 11 (regarding warrantless arrests) and a portion of section 6 (on federal immigration enforcement assistance) were preempted, the majority of the sections and the core of HB 497 — those provisions dealing with the State’s prerogative to legislate cooperative models of enforcement in harmony with federal statutes — were upheld by this decision.”

The email also included a statement attributed to Attorney General Sean Reyes.

“If the plaintiffs decide to appeal Judge Waddoups’s Order, our office is ready to defend the District Court’s decision,” Reyes stated.