Court hearing planned for Utah's immigration law

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Eight months after Utah's immigration enforcement law was put on hold by a federal judge, attorneys on both sides will have an opportunity on Friday to argue the constitutionality of the measure.

The law created by House Bill 497 would have allowed police to check the citizenship of anybody they arrest. It was initially blocked last May by U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups, 14 hours after it went into effect. At the time, Waddoups pointed at similarities to a contentious Arizona law that is bound for the U.S. Supreme Court and said there was sufficient evidence that at least some parts of the Utah law would be found unconstitutional.

The American Civil Liberties Union and National Immigration Law Center sued a week before the law went into effect to stop the implementation of House Bill 497, saying it could lead to racial profiling. The U.S. Justice Department joined the lawsuit in November, claiming the measure usurped federal authority.

Lawyers for the Utah attorney general's office have maintained the law is constitutional because it doesn't allow police to check the citizenship of everyone they encounter. They argue lawmakers worked to avoid the constitutional pitfalls of the Arizona law and passed a significantly different bill.

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