Lesbians, Gays, Mexico, and Thirteen Latin American Countries Ask Court To Strike Down Utah Immigration Enforcement Bill
Mexico and thirteen Latin American countries signed onto an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief filed June 2, 2011, asking a federal judge to strike down Utah’s new immigration enforcement law, HB 497. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 7, 2011) The original plaintiffs, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and National Immigration Law Center (NILC), sued the State in May, claiming HB 497 is “preempted” by federal law. They argue: (1) HB 497 impermissibly regulates immigration, (2) parts of HB 497 are inconsistent with federal law, and (3) Mexico has made a “formal complaint” about HB 497. (Plaintiff’s Complaint, filed May 3, 2011; See FAIR Legislative Update, May 16, 2011) The plaintiffs also claim that HB 497 will lead to unlawful detentions and racial profiling by Utah officers, as well as violates the federally guaranteed “right to travel.” (Id.)
HB 497 contains enforcement provisions similar to Arizona’s SB 1070, which requires law enforcement officers to verify a person’s immigration status if that person has been lawfully stopped and that person is not carrying one of a handful of documents, including a valid state driver’s license from a state that does not give licenses to illegal aliens. (See FAIR Legislative Update, May 16, 2011)
In the 21-page brief, the foreign governments—which include Argentina, Peru, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala and Brazil—argue HB 497 harms international relations with the United States and should be ruled unconstitutional. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 7, 2011) The brief argues that the law “substantially and inappropriately burdens the consistent sovereign-to-sovereign relations between Mexico and the United States of America, interfering with the strategic diplomatic interests of the two countries and encouraging an imminent threat of state-sanctioned bias or discrimination.” (Id.) The brief continues, “Mexico has a right to protect the interests of its nationals within the limits of international law. Mexico seeks to ensure that its citizens present in the U.S. are accorded the human and civil rights granted under the U.S. Constitution and affirms that HB 497 threatens the human and civil rights of its nationals.” (Id.)
Utah Representative Chris Herrod, a co-sponsor of the bill, called the brief “ridiculous,” saying “I would like to ask the Mexican Government why they think their people are more important than other people trying to come here from other countries.” (Id.)
On May 10, 2011, the day the law was to go into effect, Federal District Judge Clark Waddoups issued a temporary restraining order of HB 497, preventing its implementation. (ABC News, May 11, 2011) The hearing for the case has been scheduled for July 14, 2011. (Id.)
A national group representing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive individuals has filed a court brief opposing Utah’s new illegal immigration enforcement law.
Immigration Equality contends HB497 could place binational LBGT families in legal jeopardy under a provision that makes it illegal to “harbor” and “shelter” undocumented people.
“Utah’s unconscionable new immigration law actually criminalizes sharing a home with an undocumented person, even if that person is a partner or spouse,” said Victoria Neilson, the group’s legal director. “No one should be arrested for sharing their home with the person they love, but that is the very real possibility presented by this law.” Deseret News, June 13, 2011