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Federal Judge Strikes Down Part of Utah's Immigration Law

Posted by Matthew Green | Jul 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

Immigration laws on both the state and federal level have been put under the microscope in the last year. In the summer of 2013, there was the possibility of passing updated immigration reform, but the bill never made it past the House. Since then, there has been little movement in immigration reform at a federal level. However, that is not the case in many states.

New bills have been popping up in states across the country. Lawmakers have revamped current laws as well as proposing new legislation that would positively impact immigrants living in those areas. There are also cases of laws being reviewed by the courts to decide whether a law is constitutional.

In Utah, a federal judge recently handed down a split ruling “on a controversial Utah immigration law, saying the state can verify the legal status of arrested persons, but cannot detain someone without a warrant based on an officer's suspicions or a racial profile.”

In this case, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups found the part of law, making it a state crime to house an undocumented immigrant, disagreeable and also “struck down a provision which required local police to investigate immigration offenses.” This law, titled the Utah Illegal Immigration Act, was attempted three years before Judge Waddoups made his decision.

The Utah law actually used Arizona's SB 1070 as an example when lawmakers began drafting their state's law. The legislation was also referred to as Utah's solution for immigration reform. The law was set to take effect in May 2011. However, before it was carried out, there was a delay because of a lawsuit from civil rights activists, and then came an injunction from Judge Waddoups in order for the law could come before the U.S. Supreme Court.

When it came to the law in Arizona, SB 1070, the Supreme Court upheld parts of the law and disagreed with others. There remains a possibility that the state of Utah may appeal the Waddoups holding. As an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, Karen Tumlin, who was instrumental in arguing the Utah case, she surmised that Judge Waddoups decision was “a victory” and further commented that “even in upholding portions of the law the judge had set clear limits on how far Utah police can go.”

“The court did say that nearly every challenge we raised is unconstitutional and should be blocked.” In addition, Tumlin reminded the public that the judge's decision helps to “ward off overzealous attempts to determine whether someone is American based on the way they look or whether they have an accent.”

What do you think about Judge Waddoups's holding? Is there a lot of similarity between the Utah Illegal Immigration Act and Arizona's SB 1070?

If you are dealing with legal issues related to your immigration status and are seeking legal counsel, do not hesitate to contact my office and schedule an initial consultation. My associates and I have helped many clients with various immigration matters and we can help you, too.

About the Author

Matthew Green

Managing Partner. Green | Evans-Schroeder (formerly Law Offices of Matthew H. Green) focuses on the aggressive defense of immigrants. A native of Arizona, Mr. Green understands the difficulties that immigrants and families of immigrants face when a loved one is charged with a crime. He knows how frightening it can be for some...


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