ACLU, Salt Lake sheriff settle immigration suit

Monday , August 25, 2014 - 1:33 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit accusing the Salt Lake County sheriff of keeping a Weber State University student behind bars for weeks after he posted bail while they verified his immigration status, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah announced Monday.

ACLU officials said the county has agreed to end its “SB81 procedure” of delaying releases for 48 hours when authorities suspect an inmate is in the country illegally. The policy derived from SB81, a state law passed in 2008 and suspended in 2011.

“We are grateful to Salt Lake County and Sheriff (James) Winder for their willingness to carefully look at their jail policies and to permanently end the SB81 procedure,” ACLU of Utah Legal Director John Mejia said in a statement. “We think that this case highlights the dangers of the state legislature’s attempting to delve into the complex area of immigration enforcement.”

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in 2011 saying Winder and jail officials held Enrique Uroza, 22, unlawfully for 46 days after he posted bail. He was initially arrested on forgery and theft charges, but officials believed he was also in the country illegally, according to the ACLU.

Winder said his agency was following requirements of a 2008 state immigration law directing the sheriff’s department make “a reasonable effort” to determine immigration status.

As part of the agreement, Uroza will receive $75,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.

Winder was expected to comment on the settlement on Monday.

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