Park City immigration letter remains undrafted | ParkRecord.com

Park City immigration letter remains undrafted

Mayor says he will write congressional delegation by early May

Park City Mayor Jack Thomas has not yet drafted a letter to the congressional delegation that will focus on immigration issues four months after he indicated he would do so, a stretch of time covering the inauguration of President Trump, the tense days after an immigration action in the city and a widely attended forum centered on immigration that highlighted the concerns of area Latinos.

The mayor discussed his intentions to write a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Rob Bishop, the three Republicans who represent Park City in Congress, in early December. His comments at the time were made a month after Trump's victory on Election Day and more than a month before the Republican was scheduled to take the oath of office.

There was already concern among Park City's Latino population that the incoming administration would take a hardline immigration stance, an important plank in the Trump platform. Thomas at the time indicated he planned to send the letter by the end of 2016.

In an interview on Monday, Thomas said he intends to write the letter to the congressional delegation by early May. The mayor declined to provide a detailed rundown of the statement he wants to make in the letter. He offered a preview, though, saying it will address the importance of the Latino members of the work force and Park City's tradition of embracing diversity. It will emphasize that Park City and Utah have a "culture of compassion," he said.

"I just want to remind everyone that's who we are," Thomas said, describing that Park City strives to "maintain those human values."

It appears the letter will have a similar theme to public statements made by the mayor since the election. Thomas in December appeared at a Snyderville Basin forum centered on immigration issues, delivering brief but important remarks to an audience that was heavily weighted toward Latinos. The mayor that day told the crowd everyone is "fundamental in the operation of this great city." He also said there may be concern in the Latino community after the election of Trump. The mayor told the crowd Park City officials would support and serve the Latino community. He said officials would not intimidate them.

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Thomas said the letter will not address an Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation that was staged in Park City in the middle of February. Federal agents apprehended four people wanted on felony counts involving re-entering the country or unspecified other offenses. The operation spurred widespread concern in the Latino community and another round of discussions about immigration policies, culminating in a second forum more widely attended than the one in December. The second forum drew a crowd estimated at up to 350 people.

The mayor said he plans to provide drafts of the letter to several City Hall staffers prior to it being sent. He said the Park City attorney will most likely review the letter as well.

It is estimated up to 25 percent of the population of the Park City area is Latino, by a wide margin the area's largest minority group. The Latinos started arriving in Park City in large numbers in the 1990s, drawn by a hot economy with numerous employment opportunities in the resort, lodging, restaurant and construction industries.