Originally appeared in the Sun Advocate, July 9th, 2018
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tour the Utah State History Department’s collection of artifacts. Stored in the basement of the Rio Grande Depot in Salt Lake City, the collection is a ramshackle grouping of all things Utah – flags, furniture, even a handful of confiscated slot machines taken during a 1980 raid in Price.
One artifact, a safety notice that hung outside a mine in Tooele during the 1930s, represents Utah’s immigrant heritage so well that it has stuck with me for weeks. A simple message, tell your foreman if you get hurt, had been translated into seven languages and stood as a subtle example of the many cultures and backgrounds that have helped define our state.
Like those miners in Tooele, most people in Utah are the product of immigrants. In fact, if you live in this area and your name is not of Ute origin, chances are someone in your family history was an immigrant. Greek, Italian, Mormon pioneer—immigration is a part of our heritage, and it’s something most people are rightly proud of. But recently, our country has started creating new policies that move us away from our heritage.
Over the last few months, the U.S. Army has started discharging immigrants who have been serving our country as soldiers in good standing. These are hardworking people, men and women who love this country enough to serve and fight for the legal opportunity to become a U.S. citizen. Yet, for no reason thus given, they’re being discharged before they can fulfill their contract.
In another step backward, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services recently announced it is creating a denaturalization task force. You read that right, a task force designed to seek out legal citizens of this country—people who have immigrated legally, and have gone through the necessary steps to become naturalized. Now they must worry that the government will revoke their citizenship and go back on their word.
As for the two thousand children at the border, you have likely heard enough. But I’ll make one point —there is nothing illegal about a refugee seeking asylum.
The party line has always been “we love legal immigrants.” But in recent years, it appears to have moved closer to “we love legal immigrants…that we approve of.” As products of immigrants, that should concern all of us. That’s why as a citizen, and as a candidate for state office, I condemn any policy that attacks legal immigrants, and I hope more of our elected officials in this state will do the same.