With Arizona in Mind, Utah’s Immigration Enforcement Law has Court Hearing

Feb 15, 2013

Arguments over Utah’s immigration enforcement law were heard in US District Court Friday.  It was the first hearing on the law in about a year.  Judge Clark Waddoups was waiting to rule on the constitutionality of HB 497 until after the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on Arizona’s enforcement-only law. 

Cecillia Wang is Director of the ACLU’s Immigrants Rights Project, and a lawyer in the case against HB 497.  Standing outside the US District Court in Salt Lake City after the hearing, Wang said the tide is turning in their favor. 

“The Supreme Court’s decision last year in the Arizona decision about a very similar law made it clear that states have no business criminalizing immigration status, interfering with federal authority, and infringing on the rights of ordinary Utahns,” said Wang. 

The state’s Assistant Attorney General Phil Lott argued that Utah’s law is more limited than Arizona law when it comes to verification of immigration status, and that the state would not take action unless there is concurrence with the federal government.

“Utah’s interest really is only identifying immigrants that are breaking the law in Utah,” said Lott.

Judge Waddoups will now weigh the arguments and issue a ruling.  In the meantime, the law passed by the Utah Legislature in 2011 remains under an existing restraining order preventing it from going into effect.