Utah Facing Class Action Lawsuit Over Arizona-Style “Papers, Please” Law

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Utah filed a lawsuit last week challenging the Utah “Show Me Your Papers” law, which they say would  turn Utah into a police state and institutionalize racial profiling.

A similar law is currently being debated in the Texas House of Representatives.

The class action lawsuit charges that Utah’s recently passed law, HB 497, like Arizona’s notorious SB 1070, authorizes police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops, invites racial profiling of Latinos and others who appear “foreign” to an officer, and interferes with federal law.

The lawsuit charges that the Utah law is unconstitutional in that it:

  • unlawfully interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution;
  • authorizes and requires unreasonable seizures and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
  • restricts the constitutional right to travel freely throughout the United States;
  • violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by unlawfully discriminating against certain lawful immigrants as well as people in Utah without approved identify documents;
  • violates the Utah state constitutional guarantee of uniform operation of the laws

“America is not a ‘show me your papers’ country. No one should be subject to investigation, detention and arrest without any suspicion of criminal activity,” said Cecillia Wang, managing attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Several prominent law enforcement officials, including Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank, oppose the law because it undermines trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities. Burbank and other officers have expressed concerns that the law diverts limited resources away from law enforcement’s primary responsibility to provide protection and promote public safety in the community.

That sounds familiar, doesn’t it?


The complaint can be found online at www.nilc.org/immlawpolicy/LocalLaw/UCLR-v-Herbert-complaint-2011-05-03.pdf

More information about the Utah law can be found at www.nilc.org/immlawpolicy/LocalLaw/utah-bills-analysis-2011-03.pdf

A recording of the telephonic news conference held to announce the lawsuit is at www.nilc.org/pubs/news-releases/utah-lawsuit-news-conf-2011-05-03.mp3

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