After contentious debate, Salt Lake County Council calls on Congress to reform immigration

This article originally appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.

In the face of federal gridlock, the Salt Lake County Council is calling on Utah’s mostly conservative six-member congressional delegation to push a number of immigration reforms it says would reflect its own commitments to immigrants.

The resolution, which replaced a version originally sponsored by Councilwoman Shireen Ghorbani, received unanimous approval Tuesday following a spirited and sometimes contentious debate among the partisan council and only after members compromised on several changes recommended by Councilman Steve DeBry.

Much of the debate centered around whether the council should welcome and encourage only immigrants who had come to the country legally.

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Luis Garza, the executive director of Comunidades Unidas, said he was mostly pleased with the resolution the council had passed, which he sees as an important way to recognize the economic and societal contributions of all “new Americans” in Utah.

It could also make a difference in building trust with underserved communities moving into the 2020 census, since undocumented immigrants who fear responding might lead to deportation are one of the toughest groups to count.

“In this current immigration climate, I think that’s an important message to send — especially with the census coming up,” said Lauren Simpson, a policy director with the government watchdog group Alliance for a Better Utah. “I think now is the important time for communities to be doing that groundwork, securing the trust of residents in order to ensure everyone is counted in the 2020 census.”

This article originally appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.

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