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Supreme Court ruling could affect Utah immigration law

Published May 26, 2011 3:44 pm

Immigration • Controversial HB116, set to take effect in 2013, has an employer provision similar to Arizona legislation.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday upholding Arizona's law requiring businesses to use a federal employment verification program could be a precursor to validating at least a portion of Utah's controversial guest worker bill passed earlier this year.

Utah's law, HB116, has a similar provision that requires employers in the state to use E-verify, the federal database that allows employers to check the status of an employee.

The Arizona law, passed in 2007, also requires businesses to use E-verify and allows the state to suspend licenses of businesses that "intentionally or knowingly" violated requirements to verify the status of employees.



Utah's guest-worker bill, which isn't scheduled to take effect until July 2013, also calls for the revocation of a business license after the company has had three violations of hiring undocumented workers. The first violation would come with a $100 fine for each undocumented employee, and a second violation would carry a $500 fine for each worker. The law also caps the fines at $10,000.

But Utah's law also goes a step further than what Arizona passed in 2007. It establishes a state-run verification program called U-verify and would require businesses to register with it.

The guest-worker bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, is currently the subject to a repeal movement and has been criticized as unconstitutional by groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to tea party members. However, it was supported by a swath of religious, business and political groups as a comprehensive and compassionate approach to dealing with illegal immigration.

It also has several other components, including a fine-based system that would allow undocumented immigrants already in Utah to pay a $1,000 penalty for overstaying a visa and a $2,500 fine for entering the country and living in Utah without documents.

Bill supporters have set a start date of 2013 to give the state time to try to work out a deal with the federal government to allow Utah to run the guest-worker program despite critics' belief it is in violation of the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause.

dmontero@sltrib.com

Twitter: @davemontero

 

 

 

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