Injunction sought over Utah citizenship check law

SALT LAKE CITY — Two civil rights groups asked a federal judge Friday to stop a Utah immigration law from taking effect next week, saying it would create a police state and violate constitutional rights to due process.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center sought the injunction in federal court in Salt Lake City seeking to delay the law, which is modeled on Arizona’s enforcement measure.

Because the law would require people to prove their citizenship when arrested for serious crimes, it shouldn’t be implemented before a judge can rule on a lawsuit filed earlier this week by the two groups, said Karen Tumlin, the law center’s managing attorney.

“There is precious little time between now and when this discriminatory paper-check law is scheduled to go into effect,” Tumlin said. “We filed our motion today to prevent innocent Utahns of all backgrounds from being subjected to this dangerous and unconstitutional law before its legality has been decided by the court.”

The groups argue their lawsuit is likely to succeed because the enforcement law is very similar to an Arizona law that is also currently before the courts.

The Utah law, signed by Gov. Gary Herbert in March, requires people to prove their citizenship if they’re arrested for serious crimes — ranging from certain drug offenses to murder — while giving police discretion to check citizenship on traffic infractions and other lesser offenses.


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