Utah AG meets with plaintiffs over immigration law

Posted at 5:24 PM, Aug 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-22 23:26:43-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- FOX 13 News has learned Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes' office has been quietly meeting with the plaintiffs suing over a controversial immigration law that was partially struck down by a federal judge.

"They wanted to talk about implementation of some of those areas that withstood the scrutiny of the court," Reyes said in a recent interview with FOX 13.

He declined to discuss specifics.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah confirmed that meetings had taken place, and said it continued conversations with the attorney general's office and the federal government.

The Utah State Legislature's passage of House Bill 497 back in 2011 triggered protests and a lawsuit by the ACLU and the Utah Coalition of La Raza. Critics said the law, which included provisions that allowed for police to stop and question someone about their immigration status, amounted to racial profiling. They dubbed it a "Show Me Your Papers" law.

In June, a federal judge struck down portions of the law, but kept other parts intact.

Read the judge's ruling here:

The time to appeal a preliminary injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing the law has passed. Now, both sides await a final order -- and the state could then appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court in Denver.

However, the talks seem to indicate that the state isn't planning an appeal. The Utah Attorney General's Office reiterated Friday that it was working with the ACLU "to find a final resolution on this."

Some lawmakers said they hoped Utah would not appeal.

"It's a bad law in the first place. It leads to profiling," said Rep. Mark Wheatley, D-Murray, who chairs the legislature's Hispanic Caucus.

Wheatley said he did not believe there was an appetite amongst lawmakers to pass a similar piece of legislation again. Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, who co-sponsored the original H.B. 497, told FOX 13 that she still felt strongly that if federal authorities refused to enforce immigration laws then the state should have the option.

"I will wait and see what the attorney general's final resolution is before I decide if I should pursue additional legislation," she said Friday.

Reyes said he was not sure if legislators would want an appeal.

"It's hard to gauge," he told FOX 13. "Not being a legislator, I try not to guess at what their mindset is."