In 2012, President Barack Obama provided temporary relief for immigrants brought to the United States as children. These individuals, who have known no other home, were provided an opportunity to come out of the shadows through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
DACA provided a temporary reprieve from deportation and gave over 600,000 immigrants legal authorization to work. Under DACA, 9,000 Utahns were able to lead lives of dignity, working, going to school, and living without fear of deportation.
As Voices for Utah Children notes, "in the last four years, DACA recipients saw tremendous turmoil because of multiple attempts to end the program and ensuing litigation. The constant whiplash in Washington D.C. and courts throughout the nation continue to upend the lives of DACA recipients and their communities. The DACA began as a temporary fix to a broken immigration system. It is past time for a permanent solution. A recent poll administered by the Deseret News and the Hinckley institute of politics showed that 55% of Utahns support a permanent solution, a legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers."
This year marked the 20th anniversary since the first Dream Act, co-sponsored by Utah’s then-Senator Orin Hatch, was introduced in 2001. In March 2021, H.R. 6: The Dream and Promise Act 2021 was introduced, a bill that would create an accessible roadmap to citizenship for certain immigrants including Dreamers, DACA recipients, and TPS holders. The bill creates a three-step process by which individuals can apply to receive permanent residency and eventually citizenship. The Dream and Promise Act of 2021 represents the first step to restoring security, safety, and a sense of belonging into the lives of tens of thousands of individuals. They are our friends, neighbors, family, coworkers, students, and are deserving of a life full of stability and belonging.
H.R. 6 has already passed the House of Representatives. Join us as we urge the Senate to move forward as expeditiously as possible on this matter. H.R. 6, if passed by the Senate, would permit individuals that qualify to apply for and receive permanent resident status on a conditional basis for 10 years and establishes a pathway to citizenship. It imposes qualifying requirements such as being continuously physically present in the United States since January 1, 2021, pass background checks, and complete one of the following: be enrolled in or having completed certain educational programs (high school or college), serve in the military, or being employed.
Our faith compels us to protect the dignity and sanctity of every life. The beneficiaries of H.R. 6 contribute to every aspect of our community, from our economy to our churches, our cultural experiences and neighborhood celebrations. Please support these young immigrants who have lived under the threat of deportation based on little more than the prevailing political winds for far too long. Their lives have meaning and they have more than earned a path to citizenship.
Join us in sending a letter to Sens. Romney and Lee urging their support for H.R. 6
THE UTAH COMPACT
A DECLARATION OF FIVE PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE UTAH’S IMMIGRATION DISCUSSION
FEDERAL SOLUTIONS: Immigration is a federal policy issue between the U.S. government and other countries—not Utah and other countries. We urge Utah’s congressional delegation, and others, to lead efforts to strengthen federal laws and protect our national borders. We urge state leaders to adopt reasonable policies addressing immigrants in Utah.
LAW ENFORCEMENT: We respect the rule of law and support law enforcement’s professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code.
FAMILIES: Strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.
ECONOMY: Utah is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. We acknowledge the economic role immigrants play as workers and taxpayers. Utah’s immigration policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.
A FREE SOCIETY: Immigrants are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.
The United States is a nation of immigrants, and even today, immigration continues to drive our population and economic growth. Politicians and historians often refer to America as a melting pot, uniting and welcoming people of various national and ethnic backgrounds. But America’s present immigration system presents a more convoluted reality.
Legal and economic obstacles face those who want to come to or stay in the United States. More than 11 million immigrants currently live and work in the U.S. without legal authorization and without any reasonable avenue to change their legal status. This reality complicates the jobs of public service providers and law enforcement officers and inhibits the ability of private sector employers to find workers.
Immigrants to our country often face serious obstacles to pursuing their American dream, most particularly finding safe work that pays a livable wage. Families and individuals who come to the U.S. seek a better life, and yet they often lack access to legal protection and important social services necessary for learning and working.
Utah Democrats demand meaningful action to modernize America’s immigration system. We need changes that will uphold human dignity, support our economy, and, most importantly, keep families together.
Utah Dems know we all benefit from a diverse and productive society when industrious people come here to work and raise their families. We support President Obama’s executive actions on immigration and push for further action to ensure DREAMers and their families can fully access and enjoy our society. Beyond these executive actions, we support congressional action to deliver a comprehensive federal solution that creates a path to citizenship for the many immigrants who are already contributing to our society.
Our nation’s limited resources must focus on identifying, arresting, and deporting violent criminals who constitute a small portion of immigrants. Enforcement practices must become more humane and respect rights and needs of families. Our nation’s law enforcement officers deserve training to understand immigration issues and to learn to work with immigrant communities to ensure the community’s trust.
Here in Utah, we continue to support in-state tuition benefits for undocumented Utah students, and deterring local law enforcement agencies from acting as de facto ICE agents.