Park City wants immigrant reunions quickly enabled
The Park City Council on Thursday formally pressed Congress for changes in immigration policies, indicating the local elected officials have “grave concerns” about family separations at the border with Mexico.
The City Council adopted a two-page resolution addressing immigration, a rare stand on a national issue but one that the leaders saw as important at a time when there is widespread concern in the immigrant community about the Trump administration’s policies. The resolution declares the City Council’s “opposition to federal immigration policies that separate families seeking asylum . . .”
The elected officials did not spend extensive time on the matter. Nobody provided public input at the meeting prior to the resolution’s approval. Mayor Andy Beerman said he has received supportive comments from the public with one person described as an opponent. He did not provide details. City Councilor Tim Henney, though, said the resolution “represents a vast majority” of the Park City community. Other City Councilors noted the statement was crafted well.
City Councilor Becca Gerber suggested a statement centered on reuniting parents with children, leading to the inclusion of additional language. It reads that Park City requests the “Administration move quickly and openly to return separated children to their parents” and “Congress enact whatever legislation is needed to make sure that separated children and their parents can be quickly reunited, and include safeguards to ensure that family separation never again plays a part in our nation’s immigration policy.”
The statement as originally presented to the City Council addresses the broader topic of family separations. It says, in part, “given the state of confusion that may reside in our federal immigration bureaucracy, we are concerned that many families may not ever be reunited, notwithstanding federal judicial orders directing such unifications.”
The resolution highlights the importance of Latinos in Park City society, noting they account for at least a quarter of the city’s population. Latinos started moving to Park City in large numbers in the 1990s, drawn by one of the city’s greatest growth eras to work in the construction, resort, restaurant and lodging industries. It says Park City is “proud of the heritage immigrants bring to our City, our work places, our schools and playgrounds . . .”
The statement also wants the administration to craft a “more humane immigration policy, which will also include a workable citizenship pathway for the Dreamer population, of which there are many in the Park City area.”
The City Council adopted the resolution alongside a Beerman letter to Park City’s congressional delegation. The one-page letter was delivered to the offices of Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Rob Bishop, each a Republican. The one-page letter expresses concerns similar to those outlined in the resolution itself. Beerman offers to talk to the delegation by phone or meet with the members of the delegation.
The City Council resolution followed shortly after a similar stand by the Summit County Council. The concerns are essentially the same between the two jurisdictions.
The controversy about the family separations and the resolution that passed on Thursday occurred at a time when City Hall is broadening its efforts to address the overarching ideals of social equity. The efforts are not centered on Latino issues, but they are envisioned as eventually holding benefits for Park City’s largest minority group as well as other segments of the community like senior citizens.
Nearly a dozen Park City and Summit County officials sat on a public panel Wednesday to outline the way forward on wildfire management and to answer questions from residents.