Park City may seek families to house J-1 visa holders | ParkRecord.com

Park City may seek families to house J-1 visa holders

City Hall outlines a broad plan to advance multicultural efforts

Park City officials are considering a wide-ranging set of programs meant to advance the multicultural efforts in the community, including one that would seek families to house foreigners holding a popular visa designed for students, members of the rank-and-file work force and others who hail from outside the U.S.

Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council on Thursday are scheduled to hold a discussion about citizen involvement with an emphasis on multicultural people. It is estimated up to 25 percent of the population of the Park City area is Latino. Latinos are by a wide margin the largest racial minority group in Park City and surrounding Summit County, and there have been various efforts over the years by the largely white leadership of City Hall and the County Courthouse to strengthen relations with the Latino population.

The discussion on Thursday will unfold amid continuing concern in the Latino community two months after President Trump took office. There are worries about Trump's hardline immigration stance and the possibilities of an eventual crackdown. The concerns intensified in February as the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement apprehended four people in Park City. They were wanted on felony counts involving re-entering the country or unspecified other offenses, but the operation left the Latino community jittery.

Park City leaders, most notably the mayor, have pledged continued strong relations with the Latino community. The discussion on Thursday could highlight opportunities for further engagement between City Hall and the Latino community.

A City Hall report prepared in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday mentions the prospects of improving the experience of foreigners in Park City holding what is known as a J-1 visa, a popular route to employment in the city. The report says City Hall is teaming with the Christian Center of Park City.

"Our short term goal is to enlist more families within Park City limits to house these student workers to provide better affordable housing situation for the students and a rich cultural exchange," the report says.

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The report does not provide details, but it indicates a program would be outlined over the upcoming year.

It says the mayor and members of the City Council should continue their efforts as well.

The report, meanwhile, also envisions City Hall creating a series of community multicultural meetings, widened outreach to the media and a series of safety videos involving the Park City Police Department. It says an initiative could be pursued involving partnerships between City Hall and organizations meant to "encourage Latino youth to participate in City issues that would affect their community."

"As the City tries to navigate through new immigration policies and at the same time support this vital part of our community, staff recommends a 'behind-the-scenes' approach as the best and most effective one," the report says as it summarizes the recommendations. "Our team hopes to continue to connect resources and facilitate and increase multi-cultural citizen involvement in leadership, and help the voices of all segments of our community to be heard."

The discussion about the multicultural efforts is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at the Marsac Building.