Brianna Puga: Romney’s Family Security Act should include all families

Undocumented and mixed status families should not be left out of support programs.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Mitt Romney makes a few remarks during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Utah Capitol on Monday, May 30, 2022.

We constantly hear Utah’s elected officials proclaim that they are “pro-family,” “support the well-being of families,” and have a “commitment to American families.” We live in a state that claims to value families and children but turns a blind eye when it comes to undocumented immigrants and members of mixed-status families.

State officials place great emphasis on the sacredness of religion, upholding good values and morals and acceptance for all. That is a false narrative if it does not equate to the equitable treatment of all the communities that reside in Utah.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has a new proposal called The Family Security Act 2.0. It would potentially provide a fully paid-for, monthly cash benefit for working families, amounting to $350 a month for each young child, and $250 a month for each school-aged child. But it would exclude undocumented and mixed-status families, including U.S. citizen children.

A 2019 study from FWD.us revealed that more than 200,000 thousand undocumented folks live in Utah and roughly 48,000 U.S. citizen children live with undocumented parents.

In the overview of the Family Security Act 2.0, families are constantly referred to as “the building blocks of our community” and the ultimate goal of this policy proposal is to “strengthen our commitment to help working families grow and thrive.

Again, why is it that Utah’s elected officials continue with this narrative of supporting families when they intentionally are not considering every family? How does one’s legal status determine access to resources for themselves or their children? Why should legal status even be in question when we are talking about human beings? Truly, Utah’s elected officials are toying with the well-being of families and children who are often from low-income backgrounds and do not have access to what most other families have access to.

We urge Sen. Romney to include all Utah families in this proposal. Sen. Romney, please ensure that the well-being of all Utah families, especially our most vulnerable communities, is your top priority.

Brianna Puga

Brianna N. Puga is the immigrant rights community organizer for Comunidades Unidas, Salt Lake City.