AP110126080651Utah's attorney general has met twice with officials from the Department of Justice to talk over the state's two controversial new immigration bills, which may be in violation of federal law.
"It was positive," Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said of the meeting, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. "We need a way to try and progress this, and we are hoping we can do that without litigation." Shurtleff said he doesn't yet know whether the Department of Justice plans to bring suit against the state. Utah GOP Gov. Gary Herbert is expected to fly to Washington to meet with Justice officials next month.
Utah passed a law similar to Arizona's controversial immigration crackdown, SB1070, this year. The measure gives local police greater leeway to investigate the immigration status of people they stop, and to detain suspected illegal immigrants without a warrant. Lawmakers coupled the enforcement measure with the creation of a guest-worker program to let illegal immigrants who pay a fine work in the state legally. Backers hailed the joint legislation as a more moderate approach to the state's immigration issues--and as a state-level version of comprehensive immigration reform.
As The Lookout reported earlier, both laws would most likely be struck down by the courts, since the decision to enjoin Arizona's similar SB1070 was recently upheld by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the accompanying guest-worker program is in direct violation of federal law. Some immigrant advocates say the guest-worker program may also mislead illegal immigrants into thinking they are safe from deportation in the state. In reality, these critics point out, Utah has no authority to stop federal authorities from apprehending and deporting illegal immigrants.
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