SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department filed suit Tuesday challenging Utah's immigration law as an unconstitutional attempt by "a state to set its own immigration policy."
The suit challenges provisions of a state law passed this year that require police to verify legal status in some arrests, allow for some arrests without warrants and outlaw the harboring of people in the country illegally, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder criticized what he called "a patchwork of immigration laws" and said such an approach "will only create further problems in our immigration system."
"While we appreciate cooperation from states, which remains important, it is clearly unconstitutional for a state to set its own immigration policy," Holder said.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said laws like the one being challenged in Utah undermine "the vital trust between local jurisdictions and the communities they serve."
State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Utah's law is different from those in Alabama, Arizona and South Carolina, where the Justice Department had previously filed suit challenging restrictive new immigration laws. He said Utah will be able to defend its law "and have it held constitutional," the newspaper reported.
Ally Isom, spokeswoman for Gov. Gary Herbert, said state officials are "confident the Legislature worked hard to craft a law that is constitutional and we're also confident that it will withstand scrutiny and look forward to the court ruling in our favor."