Letter: Utah legislators need to learn to humanize immigrants

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) An activist holds a sign during a rally in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in West Valley City on Friday Aug. 30, 2019.

Utah is a hub for immigrants whether U.S. born, Republican-affiliated, majority white Utahns would like to admit that or not. It is no secret that the mass majority makes escaping dangers from one home to find a new and safe one — a deeply controversial issue.

According to the American Immigration Council, between 2000 and 2019, the number of immigrants in Utah increased by 63.7 percent. Utah has a culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse set of immigrants with varying statuses and their presence here cannot be overlooked. The policies surrounding a clear pathway to citizenship and true acceptance are nonexistent. Ask the average U.S. born citizen in Utah about immigration and I can almost guarantee that their awareness of the complexities and injustices attached with the issue of immigration are extremely limited.

I am a daughter of Tongan immigrant parents. Being born as an automatic citizen, I witnessed my parents who brought me into this world struggle being treated as inferior because of their differing status.

I was heartbroken by the way immigrants of color, especially, are treated in this country and how labels dictate this treatment on a local, state and national level. I am tired of seeing the contributions of

immigrants being taken advantage of, underestimated, abused and ignored.

This background led me to organize a group here in Utah called “UT with ALL Immigrants.”

While Utah does have resources geared towards immigrants — they often lose sight of humanizing this work. Our group connects all immigrants regardless of status including but not limited to TPS holders, DACA recipients, undocumented people, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. We provide the humanizing part of this work through community events and rallies.

Our group hopes to influence policy work in Utah, we cannot only care about one type of immigrant such as a refugee over an asylum seeker.

We need to supply our legislators with the education that will stop dividing our immigrants and instead unite all of them towards a real pathway to citizenship.

Saane Siale, Salt Lake City

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