Immigration

Local stories about the issues surrounding the national immigration debate.

While a federal judge has halted President Obama’s immigration actions, Utah immigrant advocates are preparing the community for the day when those actions may move forward again. They’re also writing letters to the Utah Attorney General.

Flickr: Matthew Montgomery

The president’s executive action temporarily shields certain undocumented immigrants from deportation. The lawsuit filed by more than a dozen states claims that President Obama exceeded his Constitutional

authority by acting without Congressional approval.

Attorney General Reyes said in a statement that, “This lawsuit is not about immigration policy. Whether you agree or disagree with some, all or none of the president’s proposal is not the point. The process is what is being challenged.”

The state of Utah has agreed to scrap key provisions of its controversial immigration enforcement law passed in 2011. The state Attorney General and the American Civil Liberties Union announced the settlement yesterday. Both sides agreed to accept the stipulations of a judge’s split ruling on the law made in June. Under the ruling, police will not be allowed to stop or detain an individual just to verify immigration status. It also eliminates a provision of the law that would have made it a state crime to harbor a person in the country illegally.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

In the wake of President Obama’s announcement on immigration, lawyers and community leaders met at the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City Monday to let immigrants know about available resources…. and to warn them against scams.

Office of Senator Orrin Hatch

Republicans in Utah’s congressional delegation have uniformly condemned President Obama’s executive action extending temporary legal status to some 5 million undocumented immigrants. But Senator Orrin Hatch says he plans to rectify the situation.

Photo courtesy Tony Yapias

Immigrants will be gathering at a community center in Salt Lake City Thursday evening to watch President Obama make his much anticipated announcement about immigration.

Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, says he’s expecting a celebration at Centro Civico Mexicano after the President’s announcement.

“I’m sure we’ll be seeing a log of hugs and joyfulness in our community, just for them to finally see something happen for their families,” Yapias says.  

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Salt Lake County sheriff’s office has settled a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union over its immigration detention policies.                                                                        

The ACLU of Utah filed the lawsuit in 2011, accusing Salt Lake County jail officials of holding 22-year-old Enrique Uroza unlawfully for 46 days after he posted bail. As part of the settlement, the county has agreed to end its procedure of delaying releases when authorities suspect an inmate is in the country illegally.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

A federal judge issued a split ruling Wednesday on HB 497, Utah's controversial immigration law. It upholds several measures but strikes down others in the legislation that was passed in 2011.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Conservatives and community leaders from the Mountain West issued a joint letter today urging the US House of Representatives to pass comprehensive immigration legislation before the congressional session ends.

At a press conference at the Utah Capitol, faith, technology, business and law enforcement leaders all called for meaningful immigration reform. They were joined by Paul Mero of the conservative think tank Sutherland Institute.

A restaurant in Ogden is trying to help first generation immigrant students finish college. On Thursday, the Sonora Grill will raise funds for a scholarship program. One hundred percent of all sales and contributions throughout the day will go directly to pay the tuition for immigrant students attending Weber State University. Sonora Grill owner Steven Ballard says he’s met a lot of immigrants working in the restaurant business.

File: CCM

Salt Lake City Hispanic community activist Frank Cordova passed away Monday evening following a battle with cancer. He was 57 years old. As President of Centro Civico Mexicano, Cordova was often seen in the community wearing his black “I Could Be Illegal” T-Shirt. Archie Archuleta, president of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, a civil rights advocacy group says Cordova’s forceful voice will be missed.

As Congress considers pressing issues like Syria, the debt limit, and the Affordable Care Act, there is some question whether the House will pass immigration legislation before the end of the year.  After the Senate passed a landmark comprehensive bill in June, the House is under pressure to respond. Utah’s congressional delegation came home and talked with many of their constituents about the issue over the summer, but it’s still an open question how the state’s representatives will address undocumented immigrants.

Office of Senator Orrin Hatch

Republican Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee split their votes on the comprehensive immigration bill passed in the Senate on Thursday.  Lee, who long opposed the legislation, cast a final vote against it along with thirty one other Republicans.  Speaking from the Senate floor hours before the vote, Lee said that inferior border security provisions and allowing illegal immigrants a path to citizenship were components he could not support.

As the US Senate continues to consider the Gang of 8 immigration bill, evangelical leaders in Utah and around the country are adding their voices to those calling for reform. Congregations from across the state are sending letters to Utah’s Congressional delegation, letting them know that they are praying for them as they make important decisions about the nation’s immigrants.

Baptist Pastor Greg Johnson of Lehi is a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Andrea Smardon

A recent poll shows that Utahns overwhelmingly support the immigration plan now being debated by the US Senate. But polling experts say the findings should be taken with a grain of salt, since the poll was commissioned by immigration reform advocates.

Bob Nelson

Acting at the request of the White House, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Summit County Councilman David Ure  moderated a roundtable discussion on immigration reform today. The more than a dozen panelists were from religious, law enforcement, business and community activist groups. They focused on community, the economy and the immigrant people. Mayor Becker says increased trust come from these efforts but the economic benefits will be far greater.

Andrea Smardon

As the U.S. Senate begins debate on immigration reform, young immigrants with the Salt Lake DREAM Team are stepping up pressure on Senator Orrin Hatch. The DREAMers delivered letters from across the Wasatch Front calling on the Senator to keep families together and reunite those who’ve been divided by deportation.

21-year-old Itza Hernandez stands outside of Senator Orrin Hatch’s office at the federal building in Salt Lake City, and reads from a stack of about 600 letters.