This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's office says in court documents that a federal court injunction sought against the state's enforcement-only immigration law should be denied outright.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of several undocumented immigrants and the Utah Coalition of La Raza by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center, charges Utah's HB497 encourages racial profiling and violates the civil rights of undocumented immigrants as well as citizens.
The suit claims the law would cause significant and irreparable harm if it were to stand.
But attorneys for the state argued in the 47-page brief filed Wednesday in federal court that irreparable harm from racial profiling from HB497 couldn't be proven because the law never really went into effect.
U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups issued a temporary restraining order against the law May 10, leaving it in place for less than 15 hours before it was suspended.
Barry Lawrence, assistant attorney general, argued in the brief that the lawsuit is based on the enforcement-only Arizona law. That law was the subject of its own suit and eventually had several components of it tossed out by a federal judge who ruled several portions of it were unconstitutional.
Lawrence wrote in his brief that the Utah Legislature took "painstaking efforts to avoid the constitutional infirmities of the Arizona law."
The law, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, was one of a raft of immigration bills signed by Gov. Gary Herbert in March. Sandstrom got the idea for HB497 from Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce, the author of that state's SB1070 enforcement bill. Sandstrom spent more than nine months traveling the state seeking input and trying to adjust it to avoid the court problems Pearce's bill encountered.
Eventually, the Utah Legislature passed HB497 after Sandstrom agreed to make changes in the bill, including removing a requirement that local police check the immigration status of those arrested for class B and C misdemeanors or lesser crimes.
Attorneys seeking an injunction against HB497 have until Aug. 24 to offer a rebuttal brief to the attorney general's arguments. The ACLU and the NILC have argued that HB497 is unconstitutional and violates civil rights, including the Fourth Amendment's right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.
A hearing on the law is scheduled for Sept. 2 before Waddoups.