Skip to main content
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

Utah Immigration Law Illegal, ACLU Says

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 04, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In March, Utah followed in the footsteps of Arizona, enacting a strict new immigration law that requires criminal suspects to prove U.S. citizenship or legal residency when arrested.

In response to the law, the ACLU, along with the National Immigration Law Center, has filed suit, arguing that the Utah immigration law violates the Supremacy Clause, prohibitions against unreasonable seizures, and equal protection.

Under the new law, it's mandatory that a person arrested for a felony or a Class A misdemeanor prove his citizenship by presenting a birth certificate or official immigration papers.

Officers have the discretion to verify residency of those arrested for Class B or C misdemeanors.

According to its official statement, the ACLU believes that the Utah immigration law invites racial profiling. A large portion of motor vehicle infractions are Class C misdemeanors, meaning that officers can request "papers" during a traffic stop.

Who are they most likely to ask? They say Latinos.

As with Arizona's S.B. 1070, the ACLU also believes that the law conflicts with federal immigration rules, and is therefore preempted by the Supremacy Clause.

The 9th Circuit recently agreed with the ACLU's contention regarding federal preemption. Even though that decision involved Arizona's law, the Utah immigration law grants law enforcement the same broad authority that the court found to violate the Supremacy Clause.

This, however, is not the end for the Utah immigration law. Utah resides in the 10th Circuit, so while the courts can consider the 9th Circuit's ruling, it is in no way binding.

Related Resources:

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard