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Salt Lake County Settles Lawsuit Regarding Immigration Detention Policies

This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Fall Newsletter >>Enrique

Enrique Uroza and Salt Lake County recently settled a civil-rights lawsuit against the County and Sheriff Jim Winder. Mr. Uroza alleged that County jail officials had unlawfully detained him to investigate his immigration status in the summer of 2011.  Mr. Uroza, represented by the ACLU of Utah, cooperating attorney Kent Morgan, and Latham & Watkins, LLP, brought the action after the Salt Lake County Metro Jail and, later, the federal government, held him for a total of 46 days after he had posted bail.  

 As part of the settlement, Salt Lake County agreed to permanently end its “SB81 procedure,” under which it did not allow detainees whom its jail officials suspected of being undocumented immigrants to be released for 48 hours. The County conceded that the jail’s SB81 procedure was unconstitutionally implemented as it applied to Mr. Uroza, which was an unintended consequence of the jail’s attempt to comply with the State Legislature’s SB81 bill enacted in 2008.  The ACLU opposed that bill because it unfairly targeted undocumented immigrants and undercut the ability of the federal government to regulate immigration. The County suspended the policy in 2011. Mr. Uroza also received $75,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees and costs as part of the settlement.  

 Further updates regarding Mr. Uroza’s federal case will soon be available.

 More information about this case can be found at www.acluutah.org/legal-work/current-cases