(KCPW News) UPDATED: A federal judge has put the brakes on an illegal immigration enforcement law that went into effect today, following a lawsuit from the ACLU and National Immigration Law Center. HB 497 requires local law enforcement to check the citizenship status of anyone suspected of a felony or Class A misdemeanor, and makes that optional for lesser offenses. Salt Lake City Police Chief Burbank has continually opposed the legislation, but says with today’s injunction, there will at least be some much-needed discussion about how officers are expected to implement the law.
“We put somebody in the back of a police car and now we have to check status. So we contact ICE, this is not like a 10 minute-phone call,” he explained to KCPW. “And there’s no avenue to actually accomplish the mission they’ve set forth in this law. That’s why it’s confusing and has a negative impact on law enforcement.”
But Paul Murphy, spokesman for Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, says the state believes the lawsuit is a complete waste of time, and an injunction is unnecessary.
“HB 497 basically asks law enforcement do what they normally do, which is to check the legal status of people who are arrested for very serious crimes,” said Murphy. “It is a directive to try to do more and it’s within state law, we feel it’s constitutional and we think it’s going to stand up in court.”
The suit is being heard in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. A hearing is now scheduled for July 14th.
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