Summit County Council considers resolution denouncing the separation of families at the border
July 9, 2018
The Summit County Council is considering taking action on a resolution that denounces the separation of immigrant families at the United States and Mexico border while urging Congress to ensure children who have already been separated from their parents are reunited.
The resolution calls for the elimination of the zero-tolerance policy President Trump's administration implemented to harden the country's response for dealing with undocumented immigrants. The policy aims to close loopholes within the immigration system and broadens the criterion for deporting undocumented immigrants.
The resolution the County Council is considering blames the policy for the separation of families at the border.
"I think for any government to use children as leverage is immoral and unconscionable," said County Council member Roger Armstrong. "I don't think any single voice moves the needle, but I do believe a collection of voices will eventually move the needle on policies. Adding our collective voice is critical."
Countless reports emerged last month highlighting the separation of young children from their immigrant parents, leading to national public outcry. Trump signed an executive order on June 20 aimed at allowing the U.S. Justice Department to continue enforcing the zero-tolerance policy, while discontinuing the separation of the families.
According to the White House, the president has urged Congress to change rules that dictate families can be detained together for no longer than 20 days, even as it can take years to deport people who have crossed the border illegally.
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The resolution takes issue with the prospect of indefinite detention of immigrant children with their parents and refers to it as a "prosecution-first mentality." The resolution calls the current administration's policy "unnecessarily punitive."
"Forced family segregation and the intentional infliction of injury to children are reprehensible and contrary to American values," the resolution reads. "The Trump Administration's far-reaching zero-tolerance policy, which separates children and their families, is threatening the moral core of our nation. Many of the affected families are fleeing violence in their home countries and it is inhumane to punish them for seeking asylum in the U.S."
Summit County boasts a sizeable Latino community, with Hispanics making up nearly 11.5 percent of the county population. That number is expected to grow to 12.5 percent by 2022.
"From the moment this new administration took office, there are people in our community that we know and come in contact with who are now living in fear," Armstrong said. "That fear effects every part of their life, whether it's their ability to meaningfully participate with their children or otherwise be fully involved with their community and that's a horrible position to put anyone in."
Summit County's elected leaders previously denounced the administration's policies when they led to roundups of immigrants across the country, including some undocumented immigrants in Park City. Armstrong said it is critical for local elected leaders to let state representatives know their position on particular policies.
"We have taken a position previously as to how we feel about indiscriminate roundups of people that are in the county and this continues," he said. "I think our economy is made better by them being here and by the work they do. We continue to value all citizens that live in Summit County and we will support the freedoms that everyone is entitled to in this country."
The County Council is expected to review the resolution at the July 11 meeting at the County Courthouse in Coalville. If the resolution is ratified, a copy of it would be sent to U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop and Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, as well as Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.