The suit was filed in federal court in Utah Tuesday.
Herbert said the Utah law merely is a response to the lack of activity by the federal government to enforce its own immigration laws.
“Why don’t we see leadership in Washington D.C.?” Herbert asked. “It shouldn’t be left to the states.”
However, Latino activist, Tony Yapia said he is relieved the government has intervened and willing to fight the state.
“The bottom line is H.B. – 497, is unconstitutional,” Yapia said.
H.B. - 497 gives local police officers the authority to question a person’s legal status if they have been stopped for a crime. The person in question must provide documentation to prove their identity as a legal resident of the United States. It also gives police discretion to check citizenship on traffic infractions and other lesser offenses.
The U.S. Justice Department claimed the law could lead to the harassment and detention of American citizens and those who are authorized to be in the country.
Herbert said he is not worried about the lawsuit and believes it will hold up in court.
“I believe we have a law that will pass the constitutional muster and that is why we have courts,” he said. “We will found out.”
State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, who authored the bill, said he is willing to amend it if necessary in the next legislative session.