Bloomberg News

Utah Immigration Laws Challenged in U.S. Government Lawsuit

November 29, 2011

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. sued Utah, challenging the constitutionality of a set of immigration laws that the state’s governor, Gary Herbert, has called “the Utah solution.”

The U.S. said in a complaint filed today in federal court in Salt Lake City that it has “preeminent authority” to regulate immigration matters and requested a court order invalidating parts of Utah’s new measures and barring their enforcement.

“The Constitution and the federal immigration laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country,” according to the U.S. complaint.

The U.S. has also sued to block state immigration measures in Arizona, Alabama and South Carolina. Herbert, a Republican who has held office since August 2009, signed four immigration bills in March.

“There are those who will say these bills may not be perfect, but they are a step in the right direction and they are better than what we had,” he said in a statement at the time. He is named as a defendant in the U.S. case.

One Utah law requires state police, when lawfully detaining someone, to look for identification that could establish a “presumption” that the person is lawfully present in the U.S.

If the person doesn’t have the required proof, the law officer is allowed to request verification of citizenship or immigration status. In the case of an arrest, the officer must demand such proof.

Such measures “represent an attempt to wrest control from the federal government over immigration enforcement efforts,” according to the U.S. complaint.

Brian Somers, a spokesman for Herbert, didn’t immediately reply to a voice-mail message seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is U.S. v. State of Utah, 11-cv-1072, U.S. District Court, District of Utah (Salt Lake City).

--Editors: Andrew Dunn, Michael Hytha

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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