Guest editorial: Protecting Park City’s immigrant families should be the top priority
I’m writing because some of our neighbors in Park City need us now more than ever to take a stand.
I’ve lived here for over 20 years and our kids benefited from luck of being born and living in a town, a state and a country that positioned them to achieve. I am using the word luck because that is what it is: luck. Sure, we all work hard, play hard and contribute. That is not in question. The reality is that we are able to do this because we are lucky.
Which brings me to why I am writing. Not everyone is this lucky. While many of us work, volunteer, hike, bike, golf, go to book clubs and fundraisers and some of us cringe at the state of affairs in our country over a glass of wine, we have neighbors that are being targeting and terrorized. They are first-generation Americans and don’t have the proper papers to allow them to take part in the American Dream. Yes, our town has many supports for these neighbors: our schools and community provide a world-class education, health care can be accessed through incredible programs, healthy organic food is provided at schools, enrichment programs are offered after school, there are ski programs and scholarship opportunities.
Many care deeply and work tirelessly to help, yet that is not enough to change what is happening. The fact remains that our immigrant neighbors (including children) can and might be arrested and escorted by force out of our town and country or they might be put in detention centers and separated from their families. Why such bad luck? Because they work and live here without the proper papers or have parents that sought to come here to offer them a better life. For those who say “come here legally” please know that acquiring these papers is nearly impossible, especially now.
Those of us on the lucky side must wake up and take a stand to support our neighbors. I hope our elected officials including the mayor, City Council, Board of Education, Sheriff’s Office, Park City Police Department and our media outlets will lead the way. We need to address these inhumane policies and threats and offer information about legal rights. At the very least we need those in positions of power to acknowledge what is happening in this moment and make a statement. Perhaps the paper, instead of asking Park City residents how their lives are being impacted by summer construction, needs to ask real questions. How is your life being impacted by potential ICE raids? How will your business be affected if workers are deported? How would you tell your kids that their schoolmates were put in detention centers without their parents?
There is an element of feeling helpless and fatigued by the onslaught of bad news and horrible visuals and short of an election, there might not be a lot we can do. Yet still, the silence on this seems deafening as we read headlines about raids and threats that could hurt our town, our children and some of our neighbors. If you are still saying to yourself “come here legally,” please call an immigration attorney to learn the facts.
I hope we look as hard at this issue as we do open space, climate change and UDOT plans. We are talking about human beings right now, right here and this seems more important than planning roads for a potential Olympics that might be here in 20 years or the never-ending school bond saga. Here are some websites to start: afsc.org/blogs/news-and-commentary/how-allies-can-defend-against-ice-raids, nilc.org/get-involved/community-education-resources/know-your-rights/.
As Eli Wiesel’s timeless quote reminds us, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” I’ve personally never known a time in my life that this feels more applicable than now.
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