Against backdrop of fear, city and county leaders hope to reassure immigrants
The Park Record editorial, February 22-24, 2017
Federal immigration agents slipped quietly into Park City early Friday morning and apprehended four individuals. Under normal circumstances, the incident would have barely raised an eyebrow, but given the current backdrop of anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from Washington, D.C., the arrests caused a wave of panic throughout Park City’s immigrant community.
According to statements issued by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officials and the Park City Police Department, the arrests were aimed at picking up specific suspects wanted for a variety of felony offenses. It was not a raid or a random search for undocumented workers.
But beyond that generic description, ICE has not specified what crimes were committed or whether the arrests are part of a larger crackdown on immigrants as promised by the Trump administration.
Park City and Summit County law enforcement and government officials have tried to reassure those who are undocumented, and those who fear Congress may rescind their existing legal status, that as long as they do not engage in criminal activity, they will not be targeted by local police.
Those reassurances, however, sound hollow when, as the Park City School District confirmed, one of the suspects who was removed from home at dawn was the parent of a local student.
ICE declined to cite specific charges, saying only that they were “unspecified offenses.” As a result, that vacuum of information was quickly replaced with a cascade of unsubstantiated stories about people being fingerprinted or questioned by immigration agents in other parts of town.
If, as ICE alleges, the four suspects were criminals, it is safe to say that everyone, including local immigrants, should be grateful they have been removed. Undocumented people are not immune from exploitation — in fact, they are more at risk because they fear asking for help from law enforcement.
Immigrants from all over the world make up nearly one-fifth of Park City’s population and Summit County leaders have made a pledge to ensure they feel safe and welcome. To that end, local leaders have organized a public meeting to clarify current immigration policies, provide information about legal resources and to hear everyone’s concerns. The meeting will be held this Thursday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. at St. Luke’s Church 4595 Silver Springs Drive and will include panelists from People’s Health Clinic, the police and sheriff’s departments, Utah ACLU, Federal Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), and immigration advocates.
For more information about the meeting, in Spanish, please listen.
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