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Immigration: Should feds sue Utah over new immigration rules?

Lamar Smith U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith this week asked the Department of Justice to sue Utah over a new law that allows illegal immigrants to work in the state. The rule also grants police more powers to check the immigration status of those arrested.

Smith, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said in a letter to the Justice Department that it should go to court  because Utah's law  is unconstitutional. Failure to sue, he said, would raise questions about the federal government's willingness to enforce the law equally. He noted the Justice Department challenged Arizona's controversial immigration law that permitted police to question individuals about their immigration status under some circumstances. 

Smith's demand has sparked a war of words, but not with the Obama administration. Instead, it's a fellow Republican who is fighting back. Utah  Gov. Gary Herbert said Smith and Congress were forcing states to adopt a patchwork of rules by not acting.

"Typical Washington-attempt to deflect criticism that comes from Washington's abject failure to address immigration, then sue a state over something that won't even take effect for two years, rather than use those two years to do something positive," Herbert said in a statement. "A lawsuit is completely premature. The people of the U.S. would be better served if the federal government used the time between now and 2013 to actually address immigration, rather than sue Utah for trying to manage the practical realities we face as states due to the absence of federal action."

Immigration is a thorny issue for those Republican lawmakers who represent districts or states with large farms or agricultural businesses that rely heavily on immigrant workers. Nearly half of all seasonal farmworkers are in the United States illegally.

I can't imagine that Smith's position is popular with agribusiness. Despite the high unemployment numbers, growers continue to complain they can't find legal workers to help harvest crops. It's unlikely that an enforcement-only approach will increase the pool of legal farmworkers.


Immigration, state by state

Immigration reform: The Utah path

Increase immigration for economic growth?

--Sandra Hernandez

Photo: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), right, accompanied by Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), speaks during a news conference in Washington earlier this month. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (27)

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The DOJ should sue Utah if it sued Arizona for passing an immigration law. Isn't that the whole case against AZ, only the federal government can pass and enforce immigration laws.

Build the wall, build it now.

Enforce all the laws all the time.


Utah is working good and the Hispanic Community -more than 50 millions people-, would support mostly the good republicans, if they continue working to get a best country for all Americans, so they would deserve to receive more votes in 2012, than in last past elections. Let's wait for the next steps of Republican Party in the Federal Congress.

Peace to all beings!


Utah passed 4 bills re: immigration. HB 116 has the press. HB 469 has the best chance of working.

HB 469 throws out over 100 years of US case law about immigration, creates a way for Utahns to sponsor people from around the world, providing the immigrants are not in the US illegally.

The Constitution of the United States grants authority to the federal government to regulate foreign commerce and to adopt a uniform rule of naturalization. [Citizenship not Immigration]

From the Constitutional Notes for HB 116 and HB 469:
"The Constitution of the United States grants authority to the federal government to regulate foreign commerce and to adopt a uniform rule of naturalization. The United States Supreme Court has also found inherent federal authority to regulate immigration on the basis of federal sovereignty and the power to engage in foreign affairs: this is sometimes referred to as the "plenary power," which in more recent years has been made subject to certain constitutional limits. See, e.g., Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001); Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 698 (1893); Hernandez-Carrera v. Carlson, 547 F.3d 1237 (10th Cir. 2009)."

HB 469 claims that there is NOTHING in the US Constitution that grants the Federal Government power over Immigration and prior to the Case Law noted above, the States had that Power.

It tells the Federal Government to protect our borders, create rules for granting citizenship, but as the State of Utah, we can take care of immigration, thank you very much.

The sponsoring principle of HB 469 provides a limiting factor of how fast immigrants can come, makes sure they do not place a larger burden than we can handle, and is more like co-signing a friend's car loan. It is the truly unique piece of the puzzle. With it, you don't need HB 116. Someone here illegally could find a sponsor, go home and come back with permission.

jm fay

You really should do your homework on ag workers. There is a wonderful federal program for all ag workers and it allows an unlimited numbers to be brought in. The problem is farmers dont want to pay the cost which includes the cost to and from for the worker, permanent housing with a kitchen, transport to and from the fields, fair wage, etc. They would rather hire illegals who cant demand any of these things and who will put up with inhumane conditions and treatment.

Mitchell Young

JM Fay is of course correct. But the whole 'ag workers' debate is a misdirection anyway. Estimates are that only 5% to 20% of illegal aliens work in agriculture. The sad this is that the whole cheap labor model is failing anyway -- you may have noticed the increasing presence of Chinese garlic, apples, etc in our supermarkets. Fact is our agricultural businesses will never be able to compete without radical mechanization and/or moving to very high value cops.

Meanwhile, down in North County San Diego, state regulators shut down a bunch of hippies willing to do farm work in return for knowledge and a place to crash.



Utah won't be sued. Jeffrey Kuhner has observed of Eric Holder that "He is a racial tribalist - race trumps justice. When he talks about his people, Mr. Holder sounds like the grand wizard of a black Ku Klux Klan." The same can be said about his boss. Utah SHOULD be sued. Good for the goose, good for the gander. Many of us here in Utah are thoroughly disgusted with our governor and our greedy Repubic legislators for trying to backdoor us with this thinly disguised amnesty program. We intend to work hard to see that these pols go down in flames. There are NO jobs American citizens won't do. Businesses just want to pay foreign slaves nickels and dimes to do the jobs instead of paying Americans fairly for value received.


Our entire immigration system is a mess. 1st we allow more LEGAL immigrants into the US every year than all the other countries combined. If we need them, then that is great. The more educated immigrants the better as our manufacturing sector is disapearing every year. We don't need nearly as many unskilled immigrants as have been allowed to stay in the country. The problem is also w/seasonal workers and who should be given work permits. If they have employment and can prove it then they should be given a work permit. If these seasonal workers have children here then those children should NOT be US citizens. The children would be a citizen of their parents homeland-pretty simple.

4th generation Ca native

If the standard for court challenges is the usurping of federal immigration laws how do you explain the complete lack of interest in taking on the Sanctuary city" laws and policies ????? The Obama administration has made it very clear that they intend to challenge only those states which are attempting to enforce federal immigration law. How twisted is that?


Why does agribusiness have to hire illegal immigrants to work the farms? We have enough people here willing to work for a decent wage. How much is agribusiness profiting off of this illegal labor force? The American people want to know the economics of this all. Cause at the end of the day the American taxpayer is subsidizing agribusiness and not getting any jobs out of it and our country is all the worse off. This is a criminal and corrupt way to govern. I have to scratch my heads at the knuckleheads that started us down this road where the rich get richer form importing illegals on the backs of poor and middle class Americans who are paying their taxes and getting little in return for it.


Just as a repeat performance in every one’s mind, here is a set of tools that are currently available to (ICE) Immigration and Customs Service. E-Verify is currently an internet based certification system operated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of DHS in corporation with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The program provides employers with the prospect to authenticate the work eligibility of their employees. It is free to employers and is accessible in all 50 states. The new updated version of E-Verify should be compulsory and not on a voluntary basis. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) accredited to killing E-Verification as permanent, perceptibly owed to disgracefully business organizations that saw the writing on the wall, if it was federally mandated. The TEA PARTY leaders will enact this as an official law, which will apply a severe felony, for those caught hiring foreign workers. Only one State had the true grit to go up against the might of the Federal government, showing the way to the lesser of the anemic States, thats politicians that have not been intimidated by radical ethnocentric organizations as La Raza or open border business lobbyist entities, as the US Chamber of Commerce or Council of Foreign Relations. Utah, will suffer the same fate of many other States, that don't build an enforcement wall around its own legal people. Now pariahs in any State that restricts illegal aliens by policing laws, will find themselves in the same financial chaotic mess as the Sanctuary State of California and Nevada.

This is even more imperative with today’s estimates of 10 million plus citizen’s legal immigrants drudging the streets for work. If any person steals something according to the severity of the theft, the penalty can be just as painful. Therefore business owners who are stealing jobs for more profit or defrauding the IRS, from the lowest paid labor in the workforce. Thus they lowering wages and are physically crucifying the less fortunate to help themselves and their families should be held liable. The answer to these risks should be high penalties as an example to other businesses. In so many companies the lower management carries the can as the scapegoats, and the real culprit stays free. There should be no extenuating circumstance and the perpetrators should learn the error of their ways and pay weighted fines, loss of business assets (funding for ICE) and at least one year in a federal correctional facility according to the numbers of illegal’s hired. Even more subsequent to the sentencing, should be loss of business licensing.

The Secure Communities program, which was launched in 2008, is to renew and accelerate the identification of unauthorized aliens in the country, who have been accused of committing crimes. It was planned to recognize illegals in jails that are deportable under immigration law. This is another federal program that should be obligatory for every police precinct throughout the United States. Why this is on a voluntary basis is beyond my understanding? The TEA PARTY Senators and Congressional representatives should it retain its powerful hold on the Republicans, will ensure that Secure Communities becomes a mandatory law, that no community can receive a waiver to divorce themselves? In combination with Secure Communities law, the 287 (g) gives local police enforcement assess to ICE information. About 1,000 officers from 67 law enforcement agencies have been trained and contribute in the program.

With 9 new agencies joining and a handful of agencies dropping out in 2009, the total number of participating agencies as of October 2009 is 73. According to this Agreements (Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security) program providing local police training, with the opportunity to work with ICE to tackle immigration challenges in their communities. Another improvement is the controversial REAL ID Act of 2005 that was passed after the 9/11 Commission recommended stricter controls on state issuance of personal identification, mainly driver's licenses and state-issued ID cards. Upon applying for an ID, individuals must show verifiable forms of identification, which shows their date of birth, Social Security number, citizenship status, and place of residence. One of major impacts of REAL ID is that a identification that meets REAL ID standards is required to board an aircraft. Additionally it tightens standards for getting a driver's license or state-issued ID card, REAL ID, requiring states to share driver's information, including the information printed on the license and any traffic violations.

The final tool to stop the main flow of illegal immigrants, whether heinous criminals carrying drugs, smugglers bringing in long lines of foreign nationals is the implementation of the double layer fence, complete with rows of concertina razor wire. We must encapsulate ourselves from not only people pouring across our still open border, but those entering America through airline terminals and across from Canada. Those of us, who believe we only have 11.5 million illegal aliens squatting in America, have no credence to the terrible truth. We have been invaded and the numbers generated through the US Census projection and analysis estimates the figures in the access of 20 million. The 1986 Simpson/Mazzoli bill must be enforced, not giving stealth amnesties across the board to mediocre skilled imported workers, who may end up in the unemployment line.

We need a uniform plan to hire the highest skilled, that are not available in this nation’s workforce. With the terrible gloomy picture of a 14 Trillion deficit bearing down on US taxpayers, with an unceasing movement of economic illegal aliens slipping past our borders, we are in a very poor State of affairs. Foothold families with 14th Amendment citizenship for their children are one of the most expenditure befalling this nation. No real dollar numbers really exist, except for the statement of Los Angeles City manager, Michael Antonovich “Illegal immigration continues to have a catastrophic impact on Los Angeles County taxpayers,”. “The total cost for illegal immigrants to County taxpayers exceeds $1 billion a year – not including the millions of dollars for education.”

Under Obama's presidency and his Leftist henchman or the upper echelon of Republican leadership, the push for mass amnesty will continue. Every American who sees this as a threat to over population, absolute insane expenditures, overcrowded schools, health care any number of major problems foreseen in our future should join the TEA PARTY. Its numbers now are in the tens of millions and still climbing. People are seeing this political party as the only possible release from the grip of the Liberals and GOP. Its truthful challenge is Limited Federal Government, Our Individual Freedoms, Our Personal Responsibility, Markets that are free, but fair and Returning Political Power to the States and the People.

Joel Wischkaemper

Yes. Almost all the supporters of the illegal aliens did not read the AZ law, and they also universally condemned it. In fact though, that law complimented the Federal Immigration Law and did not create new elements to the Immigration Law. It is constitutional because it does nothing more than enable the police in Arizona to enforce elements of the immigration law. Something do for the Feds in other areas I would point out.

Utah has created a new circumstance in Immigration Law that is not allowed. The States may not determine who is eligible to become guest workers. They cannot do that. The Utah Law is unconstitutional.. the Arizona Law is not. Yes.

Joel Wischkaemper

only the federal government can pass and enforce immigration laws.
Only creates a problem with the opinion. Pass and enforce creates problems.

The processes have long shared responsibility for criminal behavior. Criminal acts. Prior to the 1900's, the States determined the immigration law.


A waste of money for DOJ to sue. Immigration status and immigration enforcement is the the Fed's business and no one else s. An alien is illegal only to the extent that the Federal government says he/she is. Federal law obviously pre-empts Utah state law. Utah can no more make a person legal by passing a state law as cure cancer by passing a state law. Because enforcement was always the prerogative of the Federal government. Anyone in Utah who doesn't comply with the Title 8 provisions regarding I-9s and work authorization run the risk of Federal prosecution and DHS administrative fines. That's the way is always was, and the way it is now. Utah's law changes nothing. I'm not even sure there is a case or controversy to file a lawsuit over.


Of course the DOJ should sue Utah for enacting laws that the Feds can only enforce. Isn't that the government position in the AZ case?

Joshua Billings

Absolutely the fed should sue Utah, according to the purpose for the Arizona suit by the fed was it has sole authority and responsibility regarding immigration, if it does not sue as it did Az. it will reveal its hand that the only purpose it sued Az. was because of its pro illegal immigration position. And it has nothing to do with Immigration policy, the law, or states rights and obligations to protect its citizens in the absence of the federal government.


If the federal government would not pick which law they want to enforce, and just enforce all laws with equity and by their sworn-in duty, states would not have to address the "illegal" immigration issue at all.

If the press would stop the "spin" and state facts regarding "illegal" immigration, things would be better too.

annie 13

absolutely. If they sue Arizona for upholding the law; they have to sue Utah


I live in Utah. In a recent vote by the Republican delegates Gov. Herbert only has 43 percent of his parties support. That is not enough to win reelection. Gov. Herbert lost his support over the immigration bills he signed into law.

The bills as enacted (HB 116 and HB 469) while not using the words essentially enable slavery and should be challenged by law. The Governor did not have the constitution to go against the Mormon church on this issue and did sign unconstitutional laws into effect. There has been quite a stir locally because the Mormon church actively lobbied the legislature to pass these bills.


I noticed that Utah_1 has posted. On the local Salt Lake Tribune Utah_1 has posted the same information numerous times. Each of those times I have challenged him to support his position and pointed to the laws that were enacted. Utah_1 is unable to support his claims, and shows little to no understanding of the laws or of the US Constitution.


@norm | April 23, 2011 at 10:19 PM
You don't here post where I am wrong. I have read both the Utah Constitution and the US Constitution and also read through the 4 bills prior to their being voted on.

I still support the claim I made that Utah's 2011 HB 469 is constitutional, and that the Federal Government has been relying on case law for 100 years that is not supported by the US Constitution.

If we are going to have a line for people to come to this country, you can't reward those that bypass the line. They need to be sent to the back of the line. That doesn't mean you should stop treating them like people. Does HB 116 reward those that have bypassed the line? I believe so, which is why I believe HB 469 is the answer.

The sponsoring principle of HB 469 provides a limiting factor of how fast immigrants can come, makes sure they do not place a larger burden than we can handle, and is more like co-signing a friend's car loan. It is the truly unique piece of the puzzle. With it, you don't need HB 116. Someone here illegally could find a sponsor, go home and come back with permission.


'....People are seeing this political party as the only possible release from the grip of the Liberals and GOP. Its truthful challenge is Limited Federal Government, Our Individual Freedoms, Our Personal Responsibility, Markets that are free, but fair and Returning Political Power to the States and the People...'

you poor poor thing. what do they feed you in that federal concentration camp - moldy bread and a bowl of water?

What? You don't actually live in a concentration camp? You actually live in a nice house, eat three squares per day, have health insurance, you buy lots of stuff, quite a bit of it imported? You mean to tell me you enjoy, every day, all the things that have resulted directly from federal programs - clean air, clean water, defense, research on health and diseases, and so on and on and on?

Wow. from reading your post, I had absolutely no idea.

Confused Canadian

I'm a Canadian, living in Canada, not interested in living or working in the US. I visit the US occasionally, entering legally through either land or air.
I don't understand how this is such a problem. Perhaps some of you with knowledge can enlighten me.

If I get stopped by the police in the US, I expect I have to produce a valid driver's license and proof of registration & insurance. This tells the officer I am not a US citizen, but a visitor to the US. Does the officer not have the right to inquire as to how I got there ? If I entered the US via air, my passport is stamped. If I enter via land, my passport is not stamped, but I'm sure a quick call to the dept of immigration could confirm my legal entry.
As to employment, would employers not be required to at least obtain a copy of a driver's license ? Or some other minimal form of proof of citenzenship (or at least legal residency) ?

The US has incredible capability. Surely (yes, and don't call me Shirley), the US can put in place some method to prevent hiring illegal aliens. Build a wall if you must, but if you stop giving jobs to illegal aliens I think most of the problem would go away.

And one last question - how in the world does an illegal alien send their children to school ? I don't get it. Do schools not require any identification ?


Of course they must challenge it. Arizona's law mirrored Federal law, Utah gives itself the power to give residency and deportation to people it chooses.

They also violate Federal labor laws. Even the people of Utah are fighting it.


It cannot be more simple. Here illegally, no expensive court time, no coddling, just get out. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.


Of course Utah should be sued. This just points up the hypocrisy of the whole open borders movement. It's never been about the Constitution or upholding the law for them. It's always about getting more illegals into the US.

If a law helps illegals, it's good. If a law hinders illegals, it's bad. So, no to Arizona. Yes to illegal "sanctuary cities" and the Utah compact.

Selective enforcement of the law--just like they have in Mexico and other corrupt, Third World nations. What's funny is that so many "Latinos" do not understand that they are lobbying to recreate their lawless and chaotic homelands right here in the U.S.

Government of the people, for the people, by the people--not so much. Abraham Lincoln wept.


If you look at the LAPD website, you can be a cop as long as you've applied for citizenship and have permanent status. We have non-citizens enforcing laws and rules on citizens.

Not to change the subject but how can we expect to uphold laws on imigration and citizenship when we allow weapon carrying immigrants / foreign nationals to infer the legal system against Americans.

If we're going to fix it, we need to fix all of it.

st. george utah attorneys

I go for it. But why won't we try to listen the beautiful ideas from experts of legal advising. Let us see one another at Barney McKenna & Olmstead, P.C..



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