Immigration Equality filed an amicus brief Thursday in support of a constitutional challenge to a recently enacted Utah immigration law, arguing the measure would criminalize LGBT Americans who live with undocumented partners from abroad.
According to Immigration Equality, the Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act, similar to the controversial law passed last year in Arizona, contains a provision that criminalizes “harboring” and “sheltering” undocumented individuals, which poses a direct threat to LGBT binational families. The group argued against the law in the amicus brief filed with pro bono support from the law firm of Wilmer, Hale and the Utah Legal Clinic.
The brief cites a Utah couple who wished to remain anonymous for fear of prosecution. One partner is a lifelong state resident and social worker who may decide to leave Utah because his partner, who was in training to become a doctor, overstayed his visa and cannot be sponsored for residency, unlike the options for straight couples.
“Utah’s unconscionable new immigration law actually criminalizes sharing a home with an undocumented person, even if that person is a partner or spouse,” said Victoria Neilson, legal director for Immigration Equality, in a news release. “No one should be arrested for sharing their home with the person they love, but that is the very real possibility presented by this law. With this legislation, families who previously had no legal recognition are now in legal jeopardy. That is unacceptable and unconstitutional.”
A copy of the brief from Immigration Equality is available online.