Updated: Nov. 22, 6:10PM
Add Utah to the list of states the federal government has sued over their controversial immigration laws.
In a suit filed in federal court in Utah late Tuesday, Justice Department officials argue that the government “has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters.”
“Utah’s adoption of its own immigration policy disrupts the federal government’s ability both to administer and enforce the federal immigration laws including as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), and to establish and pursue federal policies and priorities pertaining to, inter alia, the identification, apprehension, detention and removal of aliens unlawfully in the United States,” the suit claims.
“By contributing to this state-specific immigration policy, the challenged provisions of H.B.
497 represent an attempt to regulate in an area constitutionally reserved to the federal government, forcing a conflict with the federal immigration laws and federal immigration policy, interfering with federal primacy in managing the nation’s foreign affairs and in balancing the competing objectives of immigration policy, and impeding the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress,” the suit says.
In a statement released after the suit was filed, DOJ said the suit came “after several months of constructive discussions with Utah state officials” and that department officials “expect this important dialogue to continue.” From the release:
The department notified Utah state officials of its position that the Utah’s Immigrant Guest Worker statutes, H.B. 116 and H.B. 469, are clearly preempted by federal law. Given that the provisions do not take effect until 2013, and in light of the constructive conversations the department continues to have with Utah officials about these provisions pursuant to the Justice Department’s long-standing policy of exploring resolution short of litigation before filing suit against a state, the department is not challenging these provisions today. If, however, Utah fails to comply with federal law in this area, the department will not hesitate to take the legal action necessary to vindicate the important federal interests in this matter before these laws go into effect.
The American Civil Liberties Union and National Immigration Law Center had filed a class-action suit over Utah’s law back in May.