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The American Civil Liberties Union plans to sue the Salt Lake County Jail, saying it has been illegally holding inmates suspected of being undocumented immigrants.

The jail has a policy of keeping inmates who have posted bail or who otherwise can be released so federal agents can check their immigration status. The ACLU says that violates the inmates' due process rights. Darcy Goddard, legal director of the ACLU of Utah, said her organization will file its lawsuit next week in federal court.

Other ACLU chapters, including one in Colorado, have successfully fought similar detentions in court, Goddard said.

Goddard says attorneys opposed to the Salt Lake County policy earned a victory Thursday in state court where 22-year-old Enrique Antonio Uroza is charged with three felony counts of forgery and two counts of theft of by deception.

A judge said the Salt Lake County Jail should release Uroza, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who has been held in jail since June 13.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. He has said in public forums that his agencies, which include the jail and the Unified Police Department, do not focus on arresting and detaining immigrants but rather focus on "bad people" who commit crimes.

A 2008 bill passed by the Utah Legislature — SB 81 —addressed immigration and required sheriffs to make "a reasonable effort" to determine the immigration status of jail inmates. The idea is to identify undocumented immigrants so federal authorities have the opportunity to deport them. Goddard said the ACLU of Utah has only received complaints about the Salt Lake County Jail.

The jail policy, which Goddard said the ACLU obtained and disseminated Thursday, says if anyone booked for suspicion of a felony or driving under the influence states he or she is in the country illegally "they will be held without bail" until his or her immigration status can be verified.

If the inmate says he or she is an immigrant legally residing in the country but cannot produce documentation proving it, he or she "will be treated the same as an illegal and be held as a no bail."

Uroza, who Goddard said is a college student whose parents moved him to the United States from Mexico as a child, was able to post bail June 13, the same day he was arrested, but the Salt Lake County Jail held him so federal agents could verify his immigration status.

The next day, federal agents placed what's called an "immigration detainer" on Uroza. Such detainers ask jails to hold an inmate for 48 hours so federal agents can investigate the immigration status and take custody of the inmate.

Federal agents never arrived for Uroza.

"It would be our position that he has not lawfully been in the custody of Salt Lake County since 48 hours after the detainer was placed," Goddard said.

Thursday in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City, Judge Bruce Lubeck ordered Uroza released on the bail he has posted. His next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Goddard said the ACLU will ask a federal judge for an injunction banning the detention policy and seek money for those inmates who have been held longer than the 48 hours.

ncarlisle@sltrib.comTwitter: @natecarlisle