October 23, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Legal Challenge to Utah Immigration Law Close to Conclusion
Since last November, Utah's immigration law, HB497, has been under legal challenge first by civil rights organizations challenging its constitutionality and later the Department of Justice. In short, HB497 gives local police officers authority to investigate and arrest people for perceived immigration violations. Civil rights advocates and federal attorneys assert the law is unconstitutional because it allows the state of Utah to regulate immigration, which is in the federal government's purview. A ruling on the law's constitutionality by a federal judge is likely to draw near as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on Arizona's immigration enforcement law, which is somewhat similar to Utah's.
HB497, Utah's immigration enforcement law, aims to allow the state to regulate immigration by establishing separate state offenses for violations of federal immigration law, of which individuals in violation are subject to civil not criminal penalties. In addition, the law provides special procedures for investigating and arresting individuals for immigration violations. Specifically, HB497 requires police to verify the immigration status of people arrested for felonies and certain misdemeanors, therefore the law gives police the power to request identification from those on the street who commit simple violations, such as jaywalking. Moreover, the law also gives police officers the ability to conduct warrantless arrests of persons the officer has reasonable cause to believe is subject to a civil removal order. As a result of the law and according to the American Civil Liberties Union, individuals in Utah will potentially need to carry legal proof of lawful presence at all time or risk being subjected to detention and investigation.
Recently all of the parties and challenging and defending the Utah's immigration law completed filing briefs and no additional hearings have been requested. Therefore, the future of the law sits in the hands of U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups who waited to make a ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed Arizona's immigration law.
The U.S. Supreme threw out significant pieces of the Arizona law, including making it a crime in Arizona for undocumented immigrants to seek employment or fail to carry proper documents as proof of a right to be in the state. The Court also invalidated the ability of police to arrest suspected undocumented immigrants without warrants. However, the Court upheld the portion of the law that allows police to check the legal status of individuals upon any lawful stop.
In reaction to the Court's ruling, the Utah Attorney General's Office asserts the portion of HB497 that allows police to stop individuals in Utah is different than Arizona's law because it merely requests verification of citizenship or immigration status of a person not under arrest for a felony or misdemeanor and does not allow local law enforcement to make an initial determination of status. Any determination of legal status, according to Utah's attorneys, is left to the federal government, thereby ensuring the state law's constitutionality.
Attorneys representing the federal government have stated in their brief the verification provision of HB497 does not violate federal law, but federal attorneys indicated they would challenge the verification provision if the scope of enforcement interferes with the administration of federal immigration laws. HB497, like Arizona's law, also features a warrantless arrest provision. Lawyers representing the federal government in the case assert the warrantless arrest provision is flawed like Arizona's and is in opposition to federal law when it is executed without approval from the federal government.
HB497 features additional provisions that may also potentially affect undocumented immigrants in Utah. If you have an immigration law issue, contact an experienced immigration attorney to resolve the issue.
Article provided by Familia America Immigration ~ Gloria Cardenas
Visit us at http://www.familiaamerica.com---
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