Civil Rights Groups Celebrate Undoing of Utah Anti-Immigrant Law

Affiliate: ACLU of Utah
November 25, 2014 2:44 pm

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Settlement Reached Following Federal Court Decision to Block Key Provisions in Utah’s HB 497 and Impose Limits on Enforcement of “Show me Your Papers” Provision

November 25, 2014

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SALT LAKE CITY — The State of Utah has agreed to scrap key provisions of Utah’s HB 497 in a settlement with civil rights groups. HB 497 is a severe, anti-immigrant law that would have criminalized everyday activities, such as driving an undocumented immigrant to the store, and would have authorized police to stop or detain an individual simply to verify his or her immigration status. Under the terms of the settlement, the state has agreed to permanently block or impose limits on these provisions of the controversial law.

“After three long years, it’s finally clear in Utah that treating people differently based on the way they look or whether they have an accent is just plain wrong,” said Archie Archuleta, a plaintiff and former president of Utah Coalition of La Raza. “Today is a great day for Utahns, no matter where they were born.”

The state’s infamous “show me your papers” provision has been severely restricted under the terms of the settlement, which make clear that police will not be allowed to stop or detain an individual simply to verify immigration status or to transport them to federal officials based on suspicion of unlawful presence. Finally, the settlement makes clear that the law does not require Utahns to carry identification with them at all times.

“Utah’s decision to settle this case sends a clear message to states and cities across the country that they have no business stopping or detaining people just because of suspicions about their immigration status,” said Jennifer Chang Newell of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “This is a victory for the courageous plaintiffs in this case and for immigrant communities throughout the state.”

The settlement follows a federal district court decision July that blocked major provisions of the state law, a move that came more than three years after HB 497 was challenged by civil rights groups and individuals in the state.

In the 2011 filing, civil rights groups charged that HB 497 is unconstitutional because it unlawfully interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and authorizes and requires unreasonable seizures and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment, among other constitutional challenges.

“We are pleased with the outcome of this settlement knowing that it paves the way for Utah to address broad issues impacting family and community safety without the scourge of fear and racial profiling this law created,” said Karen McCreary, executive director of the ACLU of Utah.

“Utah joins nearly half a dozen other states in realizing that punitive racial profiling laws have no place in their lawbooks,” said Shiu Ming Cheer, staff attorney for the National Immigration Law Center. “Today’s settlement marks the penultimate chapter in an ugly anti-immigrant episode that began with Arizona’s SB 1070. We hope this news will send a signal to those in Phoenix: Experimenting with racial profiling policies will only result in lengthy court battles and, ultimately, losses.”

Counsel for the plaintiffs in the case were: ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project: Cecillia Wang, Omar C. Jadwat, Andre Segura, Katherine Desormeau, Jennifer Chang Newell; ACLU of Utah: Leah Farrell; National Immigration Law Center: Linton Joaquin, Karen C. Tumlin, Shiu-Ming Cheer, Melissa S. Keaney; Munger, Tollles & Olson LLP: Bradley S. Phillips.

For a copy of the settlement and to learn more about Utah Coalition of La Raza v. Herbert, click here.

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