Immigrant Family Justice

January 10, 2024

Our 2024 Legislative Agenda

At Voices for Utah Children, we always start with this guiding question: "Is it good for all kids?" That remains our north star at the outset of the 2024 legislative session, and is reflected in our top legislative priorities.

So, what’s good for all kids in 2024?

A Healthy Start!

A healthy start in life ensures a child's immediate well-being while laying a foundation for future success. We are steadfast in our commitment to championing policies that prioritize every child's physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Central to this commitment is our focus on improving Utah’s popular Medicaid and CHIP programs, which are pivotal in the lives of many Utah children and families. 

This legislative session, a healthy start for kids looks like:

  • Empowering Expectant Mothers: We support a proposal from Rep. Ray Ward (R-Bountiful) to increase access to health coverage for low-income and immigrant mothers-to-be.
  • Increasing Access to Health Care: We support bills that aim to improve access to the vital healthcare services children and parents need, especially for those on Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Protecting Health Coverage: We oppose any effort to defund, and exclude deserving children from, the Medicaid and CHIP programs that help thousands of Utah kids every year. 

Early Learning and Care Opportunities!

The formative years of a child's life lay the foundation for their future, shaping their cognitive abilities, socio-emotional skills, and passion for learning. We will support efforts to increase access to home visiting programs and paid family leave, but ensuring consistent, quality, and affordable child care is our top priority.

This legislative session, early learning and care opportunities for kids looks like:

  • Bolstering Access to Quality Child Care: We support the efforts of both Rep. Andrew Stoddard (D-Sandy) and Rep. Ashlee Matthews (D-Kearns) to extend the successful Office of Child Care stabilization grant program that has supported licensed child care programs statewide.
  • Investing in High-Quality Preschool: We support an anticipated legislative proposal to streamline Utah’s existing high-quality school-readiness program and to make it available to more preschoolers statewide. 
  • Recruiting and Retaining Child Care Professionals: We support Rep. Matthews’ proposal to expand access to the Child Care Assistance Program for anyone working in the child care sector.
  • Building New Child Care Businesses: We also support Rep. Matthews’ proposal to continue funding for work to develop and support new child care programs in rural, urban, and suburban areas.

To view a more comprehensive list of our 2024 early care and learning legislative priorities, click here

Economic Stability for Families with Children!

Economic stability forms the bedrock of thriving families and vibrant communities. To ensure that young families in Utah have the support they need to afford basic necessities, we will advocate for increasing families’ access to Utah's earned income and child tax credits.

This legislative session, economic stability for families looks like: 

  • A Little Extra Help in the Early Years: We support HB 153, Rep. Susan Pulsipher’s (R-South Jordan) bill to expand Utah’s new Child Tax Credit, (currently only for children ages 1 to 3), to apply to children between 1 and 5 years of age. We also strongly recommend helping even more Utah families with young children by making the tax credit available for families with any child between birth and 5, and expanding it to include the thousands of lower- and moderate-income families who are currently excluded.
  • Credit for Working Families with Kids: We support HB 149, Rep. Marsha Judkins’ (R-Provo) bill to expand Utah’s Earned Income Tax Credit so that more lower- and middle-income families with children can benefit. 

Justice for Youth!

We want to ensure that all youth, including those who come into contact with the juvenile justice system, have access to interventions and supports that work for them and for their families. We are dedicated to advancing policies and recommendations that contribute to a more fair and equitable juvenile justice system for all Utah youth.

This legislative session, justice for youth looks like:

  • Prioritizing School Safety: We are monitoring bills from Rep. Wilcox (R-Ogden) and the School Safety Task Force, including: HB 14, “School Threat Penalty Amendments” and HB 84, “School Safety Amendments.” We remain hopeful that these efforts will support a secure learning environment for all students, without contributing further to the School-to-Prison Pipeline. 

Be an Advocate!

As we chart the path forward, one thing remains abundantly clear: the well-being, growth, and future of Utah's children rely on the decisions we make today. Each legislative session presents an opportunity—a chance to reaffirm our commitment, reevaluate our priorities, and reimagine a brighter, more inclusive future for all. 

Together we can continue to make Utah a place where every child's potential is realized, their dreams are nurtured, and their voices are heard.

Below are some ways you can get involved this session. 

Stay Informed with our Bill Tracker

Stay informed about important legislation we are watching and reach out to your local representatives to let them know how you feel about legislation that is important to you. We make it easy for you to subscribe and watch bills that you are most concerned about. 

VIEW TRACKER

 

Join us for Legislative Session Days on the Hill

Join us at the Capitol, where we offer attendees the opportunity to engage in the legislative process on a specific issue area (health and/or child care). You'll have the chance to attend bill hearings, lobby your legislators, connect with fellow community advocates, and watch House and Senate floor debates. Click the button below for the dates/times of our meetings and to RSVP.

RSVP TODAY

 

Celebrate Utah's Immigrant Community 

In collaboration with our partners at UT With All Immigrants, the Center for Economic Opportunity and Belonging, and I Stand with Immigrants, we are organizing Immigrant Day on the Hill. Join us to discover ways to engage in Utah's civic life. Enjoy food, explore resource tables, participate in interactive activities, and entertainment. Everyone is invited to attend this free event!

Event Details: February 13, 2024, 3:30pm-5:30pm at the Capitol Rotunda, 350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

RSVP TODAY

Published in News & Blog

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
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