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Challenge to Utah's HB 497

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Last updated FEBRUARY 15, 2012

NILC to Ask Court to Block Utah’s “Papers Please” Law

On Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, NILC, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Utah will ask a federal court to block HB 497, Utah’s “papers please” law, pending a final ruling on the law’s constitutionality. Utah’s law, which has been under a temporary restraining order since May 2011, is the latest Arizona copycat law to receive its day in court.

HB 497 would establish a comprehensive state immigration enforcement scheme much like Arizona’s SB 1070 does. The bill would promote racial profiling by law enforcement in a wide variety of scenarios. If implemented, the bill would prohibit local law enforcement agencies and localities from maintaining policies that prioritize public safety and welfare over immigration enforcement. This would further discourage immigrant communities from reporting crimes or cooperating with investigations out of fear of racial profiling and potential deportation.

HB 497 . . .

Creates an elaborate scheme requiring local law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of individuals they stop in numerous circumstances, similar to Arizona’s SB 1070. 

Officers are required to verify the immigration status of anyone they stop if the person . . .

  • Is arrested for a class A misdemeanor or felony (includes: possession of marijuana over one ounce; DUI with injury; criminal mischief).
  • Is arrested or booked for a class B or C misdemeanor (includes lack of a valid license, public intoxication; many traffic offenses; DUI; reckless driving; public nuisance).

Officers would also be required to verify the immigration status of any passengers of a car if they developed “reasonable suspicion” that the passengers were violating new Utah criminal provisions with respect to the smuggling or transporting of immigrants unauthorized to be in the United States.

While the bill enumerates a list of documents that, if produced, would give individuals stopped a presumption of “lawful presence in the United States,” as well as allowing individuals to make an oral affirmation of U.S. citizenship or U.S. national status, it also allows officers to reject these documents if they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe they are false, further inviting racial profiling.

Creates state criminal offenses for transporting and harboring of immigrants unauthorized to be in the U.S. or conspiring to do so.

Allows for the warrantless arrest of individuals if law enforcement agents have “reasonable cause” to believe an individual is a non–U.S. citizen . . .

  • who is subject to a removal order issued by an immigration judge;
  • who is the subject of a federal immigration hold; or
  • who has been charged or convicted in another state with one or more aggravated felonies as defined by federal immigration law.

Prohibits any state or local government policy that would limit law enforcement agencies from assisting the federal government in the enforcement of any immigration law or regulation, including federal registration laws applicable to non–U.S. citizens.

The briefs and orders filed to date in the lawsuit are available below, and more information about HB 497 is available here.

Pleadings and Orders

Utah Coalition of La Raza, et al. v. Herbert, et al.

Briefs and Orders Filed with/Issued by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Utah (from latest to earliest):