A federal judge will hear arguments today whether Utah's enforcement-only immigration bill should be enforced or be set aside because civil rights groups believe it violates the U.S. Constitution.
The law, HB497, is slated to take effect at midnight meaning it will be enforceable for as long as there is no ruling on the case. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center had attempted to reach an agreement with Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on Monday to delay the law's start until after the court hearing, but those talks were unsuccessful.
Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, HB497 is modeled after Arizona's law that sought to require local police to check legal status of those suspected of committing crimes. Several portions of that law were thrown out by a federal judge as being unconstitutional.
The ACLU and the NILC filed for a preliminary injunction Friday. The case will be heard at 2 p.m. Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups.
Waddoups, the uncle to Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, was randomly drawn to hear the case.
Darcy Goddard, attorney for the ACLU of Utah, said the differences between SB1070 and Utah's enforcement-only law are "cosmetic" and that it still violates the federal supremacy clause as well as people's constitutional rights protecting them from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.
She highlighted a provision that says one of the acceptable forms of identification in the law is a driver license issued after Jan. 1, 2010. She said if a person's driver license was issued prior to that date, the officer could continue to seek proof of legal residency. Goddard said a person with an accent, for example, could be detained and be forced into ICE custody whether they're here legally or not.
"What they look like and what they sound like will inevitably lead to racial profiling," she said.
But Paul Murphy, spokesman for the attorney general's office, said state lawyers are confident in the law's validity and believe it will hold up.
"We worked with the sponsors of HB497 to come up with a law that would stand up in court and accomplish what they are seeking and to remove the problematic provisions in the Arizona law," Murphy said. "We will defend HB497 and are confident that it will withstand any legal scrutiny."