Immigrant Family Justice

Statement on the Fifth Circuit Court Decision in Texas v. United States

Voices for Utah Children is disappointed with the ruling from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling largely upheld the lower courts’ decision that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) 2012 memo is unlawful. The case has been sent back to the lower court to consider the Biden Administrations new DACA rule that will go into effect on October 31st.

While we are glad to know that DACA renewals will temporarily continue, we know this is no solution. We are frustrated with the inaction of Congress, including Utah’s Congressional members. Now more than ever, Congress MUST act. DACA recipients should not have to live their lives in limbo, waiting to hear from court decision after court decision.

There is a false sense of security because despite the litigations, DACA has continued. However, for those with DACA the rollercoaster has been far from peaceful and secure. It has been heartbreaking for the hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth who qualify that cannot obtain their permits because new applications are not being accepted.

Nine years of this program working should be enough for Congress to finally take action and stop playing with the lives of immigrant youth. Our Congressional members can be champions for immigrants in our state. We urge them to be leaders in this crucial moment. Let’s not wait until the program ends to finally provide permanent protection to immigrant youth – it’s time to pass reform for immigrant youth now.

History:

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program began in 2012 under President Obama to allow immigrants who came to the country as children under 16 the opportunity to apply to a legal working permit and deferred deportation. It was a temporary fix to the inaction of Congress on immigration reform. Currently more than 600,000 Dreamers benefit from the program, including more than 9,000 Utahns.

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Published in News & Blog

Right now, Congress is in the process of debating and potentially passing a reconciliation bill that includes a number of provisions that are good for immigrant families. During the next couple of weeks and months, we will see several updates and changes but one thing is clear: this bill is good for children and families. Today we will highlight a number of provisions that are good for immigrant families in our state. We know that a path forward that includes economic recovery cannot be done without lifting those who have been hardest hit, that includes immigrant families. Immigrant families have been vital to our state during the pandemic and will continue to be during the recovery. 

Child Tax Credit Expansion

The expansion and extension of the CTC through 2025 would mean that more children would be eligible, restoring eligibility to the CTC to about 1 million Little Dreamers with ITINs. In Utah, that is approximately 11,500 children. An equitable recovery would allow for more funding to come directly to our family with a $34,882,800 impact to our state.

Educational Equity

Educational opportunities for all will be key in ensuring everyone can recover after the pandemic. The provisions made would ensure that there are no restrictions to expanded child care and early education programs. This means neither the parents nor the children’s immigration status will be a factor during the eligibility process. Additionally, eligibility for higher education assistance such as Pell Grants, student loans, and work study would expand to those with DACA, TPS, and DED. 

Pathway to citizenship

Immigration reform will be essential to the economic recovery of our state and for our immigrant families. While we are disappointed at the Parliamentarian's first ruling to not include a pathway we urge Congress to search every avenue available to provide protection to immigrant families in the U.S. It is estimated that over 34,000 Utah children have an undocumented parent. By providing a pathway to citizenship to essential workers, DACA, TPS, and DED holders, approximately 1,000 children will be  lifted out of poverty in our state. Additionally, Utah is home to approximately 100,000 undocumented immigrants, and of those, about 49,500 are essential workers. We understand that immigrants have been critical to keeping Utah moving forward and helping our economy stay afloat during the pandemic and hope we can support them post-pandemic by including such reforms during the reconciliation process. 

As we continue to advocate on federal and state level policies, Voices will ask the question: “Is it good for kids?” The provisions we highlighted are ones that we believe are good for immigrant kids in our state. As the House and Senate continue to negotiate what will be included in the final reconciliation bill, we urge them to keep these provisions that will ensure kids and families in Utah will have opportunities to recover economically post-pandemic.

Published in News & Blog

We are disappointed and disheartened by the ruling from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen no longer allowing new applications to be approved.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has allowed more than 600,000 immigrants, including approximately 10,000 in our state to work legally and live without the looming fear of deportation. We know this program has made a significant impact on the lives of DACA recipients themselves, their families, and our communities and would have made an impact to those who were waiting for their approval.

DACA was enacted in 2002, by President Barack Obama as a temporary solution to a broken immigration system. Today we continue to call upon our federal delegation to act and support the passing of a permanent solution that includes a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and other “Dreamers” or undocumented youth currently without a status.  We will continue to work to support DACA recipients during this difficult time and advocate for permanent protection.

If you are a DACA recipient, please see the mental health resources below.

In the coming week we will have more details on what the decision means and answer questions for DACA recipients.

Resources: 

https://homeishere.us/mental-health/undocuhealth-national-mental-health-directory/

Utah Partners for Health: 

https://702cc1c3-bbf2-4715-bc30-67f27170c9ea.filesusr.com/ugd/dc957b_5a162caaffaa43db941ade50db5fdcec.pdf

Latino Behavioral Health Services 

https://latinobehavioral.org/

Multicultural Counseling Center:

https://www.mccounseling.com

University of Utah Counseling Center: 

https://counselingcenter.utah.edu/services/individual-counseling.php

SLCC: 

http://www.slcc.edu/chc/counseling-services.aspx

Published in News & Blog
June 14, 2021

Happy DACA Anniversary!

Today we are celebrating nine years of DACA by sharing more information about this program and HR6: The Dream and Promise Act.

Who are Dreamers?

Dreamers are immigrant youth, who entered the U.S. before their 18th birthday. This name comes from the original Dream Act 2001 that was introduced by Senator Dick Durban (IL) and Senator Orrin Hatch (UT) and is commonly used when referring to this group of immigrants.

Some Dreamers are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, the program that began under President Obama under an executive order in 2012. Since 2012, DACA recipients have been able to work legally, have protection against deportation, and given the ability to obtain drivers licenses, credit cards, and more. DACA recipients are everywhere. They are restaurant workers, healthcare workers, sanitation workers, construction workers, and more. They are members of our community who have built lives and families in the U.S. We have seen time and time again that this program has been under attack and It is past time that permanent protection for this group of young people is passed.

DACA recipients in Utah

With over 650,000 DACA recipients in the U.S. Utah has about 8,490 recipients as of March 2020. Studies have shown time and time again that DACA works. Most DACA recipients are either working or going to school, approximately 40% of DACA recipients are in school. Of those in school, 83% are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher. Additionally, thanks to DACA 58% reported moving to a job with better pay. While DACA remains an important program, a 2-year renewal process is no way to live or to create a future. A measure that would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers has continually been supported, a recent poll done by the Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute of Politics showed that 55% of Utahns supported a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

What is H.R.6: The Dream and Promise Act 2021?

H.R. 6: The Dream and Promise Act 2021 is a bipartisan measure that would create a three-step pathway to citizenship for an estimated 4.4 million eligible immigrants including: Dreamers, DACA, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients the ability to apply for permanent legal status in the U.S. This important piece of legislation will grant DACA recipients an opportunity for an expedited process to receive Permanent Residency “Green cards” through employment, education, or military service. It also grants a path to citizenship to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders, and other eligible Dreamers. If you’d like to learn more, you can also watch our whole explainer on the different federal immigration bills being considered here.

Why we need immigration reform now!

Pushing for comprehensive and humane immigration reform now is crucial. We must create a humane immigration system that prioritizes keeping families safe and together. We must create a system that recognizes the contributions immigrants in our state have made. We are conscious, that DACA recipients represent a small portion of the immigrant community and while we celebrate DACA’s 9th Anniversary we also will continue to advocate for meaningful immigration reform for the rest of our immigrant community in our state.

The pandemic has continued to show us that undocumented immigrants are an essential part of Utah, and ensure they are supported during this public health crisis and beyond. Until then, undocumented, and mixed-status families remain vulnerable to deportation, family separation, detention, and exploitation.

This year we have an opportunity to finally pass immigration reform that creates a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers through HR6 and continue advocating for larger reform for the rest of our immigrant community like the Essential Workers Act or the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. We believe the Biden administration and Congress can act and finally fully recognize our undocumented immigrant community who are essential workers, family members, colleagues, and neighbors.

We celebrate the impact DACA has had in our state and urge Senator Romney and Senator Lee to vote YES on HR6: The Dream and Promise Act 2021!

Celebrate with us by sharing our social media posts, signing this petition, or contacting Senator Romney and Senator Lee today! And if you are a DACA recipient, visit www.UtahDACA.com to learn about resources available to you in our state!

Authored by: Abigail Dahilig, Advocacy Intern and Ciriac Alvarez Valle, Senior Policy Analyst
Published in News & Blog

Senator Mitt Romney
Washington, DC 20510

April 1, 2021

Dear Senator Mitt Romney:

Last week, two major immigration bills HR6: The Dream and Promise Act and HR1603: The Farmworker Modernization Act passed the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives!

We urge you to vote yes on both of these immigration bills as monumental steps towards comprehensive and humane immigration reform. Polices like these are vital to the continued health and success of our state that will provide direct relief to immigrant families who have made Utah their home. It is time to come together and support these bipartisan measures to ensure a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 3 million immigrants including eligible immigrant youth, farmworkers, TPS, DED, and DACA recipients who will benefit.

Utah has a history of supporting immigrant families in our state through past state policies and with Sen. Hatch’s legacy of the first introduction of the Dream Act in 2001. Undocumented immigrants are our friends, family members, colleagues, and community members. HR6 & HR1603 signify an opportunity to recognize some of the contributions that immigrants have made in our state. Utah is home to approximately 92,000 undocumented immigrants, thousands of who would be granted a pathway to citizenship with the passage of these bills.

The Migration Policy Institute estimated that in 2020, approximately 15,000 Dreamers were eligible for DACA, most of whom may qualify for the Dream and Promise Act if passed. In Utah, about 66,933 children live in a household with at least one undocumented immigrant. Additionally, the New American Economy estimated that approximately 1 in 5 farmworkers in our state are foreign-born. While not all farmworkers undocumented, mixed-status farmworker families in our state will benefit greatly from the passage of HR1603. Nationally, it is estimated that over 55% of farmworkers have children and about 49% are estimated to lack work authorization. These milestone bills will make a significant difference in the lives of children and families and signify a path forward for immigrant families in our state who have lived with fears of deportation looming over them for far too long.

It is your opportunity to take action and help us move towards comprehensive immigration reform for our country. Undocumented immigrants have been on the frontline of ensuring our state moves forward during the pandemic. Now is the moment to reaffirm our support to the thousands of immigrants in Utah who will benefit from the passage of both bills.

We, the undersigned, urge your action to protect immigrant families in our state by voting YES on HB6 and HB1603.

Sincerely, 

Voices for Utah Children
Comunidades Unidas
Holy Cross Ministries
Perretta Law Office
Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City
Utahns Against Hunger
Planned Parenthood Association of Utah
Neighborhood House Association
Alliance for a Better Utah
Utah Coalition of La Raza (UCLR)
OCA Asian Pacific Islander American Advocates Utah
Utah Muslim Civic League

 

Email Ciriac Alvarez Valle for questions:

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Published in News & Blog

Salt Lake City - Voices for Utah Children released publicly today (January 6, 2021)  "#InvestInUtahKids: An Agenda for Utah's New Governor and Legislature," the first major publication of our new #InvestInUtahKids initiative. 

Utah begins a new era in this first week of January, with the swearing in of a new Governor and Lt. Governor and a new Legislature. The arrival of 2021 marks the first time in over a decade that the state has seen this kind of leadership transition. Last month Voices for Utah Children began sharing with the Governor-elect and his transition teams the new publication, and on Wednesday morning Voices will share it with the public as well.

The new publication raises concerns about the growing gaps among Utah's different racial, ethnic, and economic groups and lays out the most urgent and effective policies to close those gaps and help all Utah children achieve their full potential in the years to come in five policy areas: 

  • Early education 
  • K-12 education 
  • Healthcare
  • Juvenile justice
  • Immigrant family justice

The report, which was initially created in December and distributed to the incoming Governor and his transition teams, closes with a discussion of how to pay for the proposed #InvestInUtahKids policy agenda. The pdf of the report can be downloaded here

Published in News & Blog

Great news, the Public Charge rule has been halted!

Earlier this week, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a new temporary injunction that bars the DHS Public Charge rule.

What does this mean? It means that the Public Charge rule will be barred from being implemented, applied, and enforced nationwide during the declared national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is great news for immigrant families in our state! No one should have to make the difficult choice between accessing the programs they are eligible for and their immigration status. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we want to ensure that we fight the fear and the “chilling effect” of the Public Charge rule with facts. We commit to continue working alongside partners and leaders in our community to ensure immigrant families are able to make informed decisions for their families.

Published in News & Blog
Supporting our immigrant communities

Immigrant children and families in our state need equitable opportunities to thrive. Utah has long been a state that works to include our mixed-status families. From driving privilege cards to in-state tuition for our undocumented youth, our policies must continue to reflect the values found in the Utah Compact and beyond to address the issues that immigrant families face in our state both at the state and national level. 

To address these issues, Voices is committed to working with leaders in our immigrant communities to uplift the issues that are most affecting them by:

  • Being an active member of the Enriching Utah Coalition
  • Leading the 100% Kids Coverage Campaign
  • Fighting against the Public Charge Rule and its chilling effect
  • Uplifting the unique challenges and gaps that exist for immigrant families
  • Working to ensure policies are inclusive towards our mixed-status and undocumented families

Immigrants in our state are our family, neighbors, friends, and colleagues. We will continue to work alongside immigrant communities and leaders to ensure Utah is a welcoming place for all.

Published in 2020 Issues
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