Immigrant advocates held a demonstration at Temple Square in Salt Lake City Monday. Sightings of federal immigration officials sparked fears that the raids occurring in other parts of the country were coming to Utah.
On a cold February afternoon, a couple dozen people huddled by the fountain between Temple Square and the Joseph Smith Memorial building.
“Keep our families together, keep our families together,” they chanted.
Organizer Agustin Diaz says they started getting nervous when they heard that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had been sighted in West Valley City, Kearns, and Taylorsville.
“This weekend, we just got so many hits on social media, so many people mentioning that there were ICE agents patrolling in their neighborhood, there was just a heavy amount,” Diaz says. “We thought that there might be a possibility that the raids arrived to the state of Utah.”
ICE raids the past few weeks in several states have been protested for the detention of women and children and potential legal rights violations. Regional ICE spokesperson Carl Rusnok told KUER only that agents routinely target aliens with criminal convictions to help protect public safety. Demonstrator Adrian Romero says many law-abiding immigrants are still afraid. She called her parents even though her family has papers.
“I said mom, dad, don’t open the door for anyone. Don’t sign anything if ICE comes to your door,” Romero told the crowd.
“I was taught as a Mormon woman to value the family,” said Lindsey Park, whose ancestors were early settlers in the area. “The thought of children being taken from their parents and vice versa is a sin, and I stand with you and say it’s wrong, and I call on the people of Utah to protect the family. No one should be separated.”
Advocates are advising undocumented immigrants to remain alert, not to open the door for anyone they don’t know, and not to sign any papers.