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Federal judge blocks Utah immigration law

A federal judge blocks a Utah law that would allow police to check the citizenship status of people they arrest. He cited its similarity to an Arizona immigration law now before federal courts.

May 11, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge on Tuesday blocked a new immigration law in Utah that would have allowed police to check the citizenship status of anyone they arrest.

Judge Clark Waddoups issued his ruling in Salt Lake City hours after the law went into effect, citing its similarity to an Arizona law now before federal courts.

The American Civil Liberties Union and National Immigration Law Center had sued to stop the law, warning that its implementation could lead to racial profiling.

Utah Assistant Atty. Gen. Jerrold Jensen said the ruling was "not a surprise."

Jensen said after the hearing that the law was "fully constitutional" and that his office planned to "argue it vigorously."

The next hearing on the matter is set for July 14.

The law, signed by Republican Gov. Gary R. Herbert in March, would require police to check the citizenship status of anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony or class-A misdemeanor, while giving officers discretion to check the citizenship of those stopped for traffic infractions and other lesser offenses.

Class-A misdemeanors include theft, negligent homicide and criminal mischief, while felonies include aggravated burglary, rape and murder.

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