Immigrant Family Justice

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
We are pleased to announce that the Annie E. Casey Foundation has released the 2021 Kids Count Data Book.
Access the book today at www.aecf.org/databook

Background

For 15 years it has been the priority of the Utah KIDS COUNT Project to ensure that policymakers, advocates, community service providers, the media, and concerned citizens have quality data on how children are doing in our state. These yearly publications provide county level data on a variety of child well-being indicators.Utah showed strong gains in key indicators of child well-being from 2010 to 2019, according to the 2021 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state report on child well-being by the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzing how children are doing in four domains encompassing 16 child well-being indicators.

Summary of the 2021 Utah Kids Count Data 

This year’s Data Book shows nearly a decade of progress in all but two of the indicators.

Troublesome indicators appear in the Health domain as low birth-weight babies and child and teen death rates both saw increases over the decade. The percentage of babies born at low birth weight rose from 7.0% in 2010 to 7.4% in 2019, a 6% increase; Utah fell in the national rankings from 12th to13th in this indicator. Similarly, the child and teen death rate rose from 24 deaths per 100,000 children in 2010 to 26 in 2019, an 8% increase. Utah fell in the rankings for this indicator from 14th to 24th.

While Utah showed improvement in most areas of child well-being over the last decade, when comparing 2020 data to 2021 data our rankings from last year fell in all but one category:

- Overall ranking fell from 4th to 5th

- Economic Well-Being fell from 2nd to 5th

- Health ranking fell from 13th to 18th

- Family and Community fell from 1st to 2nd

- Education remained the same at 10th

“The bad news is Utah is not keeping pace with the states that continue to improve,” said Terry Haven, deputy director of Voices for Utah Children, Utah’s member of the KIDS COUNT network.
“The good news is it wouldn’t take much to help our rankings start trending upward again. For example, if Utah wanted to rank number one in percentage of low birth-weight babies, it would only have to reduce the number by 532 babies.”

Impact of the Pandemic on Utah Kids

Sixteen indicators measuring four domains — economic well-being, education, health, and family and community context — are used by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in each year’s Data Book to assess child well-being. The annual KIDS COUNT data and rankings represent the most recent information available but do not capture the impact of the past year:

ECONOMIC WELL-BEING: In 2019, 91,000 children lived in households with an income below the poverty line. Nationally, Utah is praised for its economic success, but Utah families continue to face rapidly increasing housing costs. Utah ranked 10th in 2018 for children living in households that spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and the state dropped to 17th in 2019. With the current housing prices in Utah, it is quite possible this trend will get worse.

EDUCATION: In 2019, Utah education ranking held steady at 10th in the nation. However, Utah’s early education numbers still lag behind much of the country with close to 60% of 3- and 4-year olds not attending school. Utah ranks in the bottom third of states for this indicator.

AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE: In 2019, 82,000 children in Utah did not have health insurance. The state made an effort to provide all children in Utah with health insurance through the passage of legislation. While the bill was enacted, not enough funding was appropriated to cover all kids. Utah continues to rank 41st in the nation for uninsured children.

FAMILY AND COMMUNITY CONTEXT: Utah has consistently ranked first in the category but fell a bit in 2019 to second. Utah did make improvements in the number of children in single-parent families. In 2018, Utah had 174,000 children in single-parent families but in 2019, the number dropped to 168,000 children.

Let's Continue to #InvestInUtahKids

Investing in children, families and communities is a priority to ensure an equitable and expansive recovery. Several of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s suggestions have already been enacted in the American Rescue Plan, and additional recommendations include:

  1. Congress should make the expansion of the child tax credit permanent. The child tax credit has long had bipartisan support, so lawmakers should find common cause and ensure the largest one-year drop ever in child poverty is not followed by a surge.
  2. State and local governments should prioritize the recovery of hard-hit communities of color.
  3. States should expand income support that helps families care for their children. Permanently extending unemployment insurance eligibility to contract, gig and other workers and expanding state tax credits would benefit parents and children.
  4. States that have not done so should expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The American Rescue Plan offers incentives to do so.
  5. States should strengthen public schools and pathways to postsecondary education and training.

Release Information

The 2021 KIDS COUNT® Data Book is available at https://www.aecf.org/resources/2021-kids-count-data-book. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about the Data Book can use the KIDS COUNT Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org.                                                                             

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

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
July 30, 2020

Immigrant Family Justice

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

“We commend the Supreme Court’s decision finding the current administrations rescission of DACA as unlawful. We fully support the diverse group of more than 700,000 young immigrants (Dreamers) who are instrumental to our society including the approximately 10,000 who live in our state. We have seen many of them highlighted as essential health care workers during the COVID-19 crisis and we are proud of their many contributions to make this country a better place.

This decision does not mean that the fight is over. We must continue to follow the lead of our immigrant rights leaders and continue to advocate for a lasting solution that protects all 11 million undocumented immigrants including DACA recipients and their families. Whether it is the more than 25,000 Dreamers who are health care workers keeping us safe during the pandemic, or the Dreamers currently in other crucial positions including teachers and our military, DACA recipients are here to stay. 

As we reimagine the kind of America we want to become, and as we fight to make our country stronger and more just, we should look to Dreamers. This is a program that should be a basis of a comprehensive immigration policy that would allow us to grow stronger as a state and country. We commit to advocating alongside the Dreamers and ensuring Congress acts immediately so that DACA recipients can finally live in peace and security.”

Moe Hickey, CEO

Voices for Utah Children

 | 435-729-0233

Published in News & Blog

Utah has a long-standing commitment to immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers.

This brief provides an overview of immigrant families and children in our state, current political and policy issues affecting immigrant families, and how this impacts the mental health of Utah immigrant children. By reviewing both short and long-term consequences of current immigration policies on children’s mental health, we conclude with recommendations that can mitigate obstacles Utah immigrant children and families face to their mental and emotional well-being.

Download the entire brief by clicking here or checking below.

Published in News & Blog

Several weeks ago, threatening statements were made by the Trump Administration to ramp up deportations. Today, news outlets including The New York Times have reported that scheduled neighborhood ICE raids will begin this Sunday, July 14th in selected cities.

Voices for Utah Children is a non-profit advocacy organization that aims to influence policies, raise awareness, and provide data-driven research to support all children in our state, regardless of immigration status. We continue to oppose this threat that targets immigrant families and creates more fear to community members in our state.

We continue to wait for additional details regarding this operation and understand that as of now, no Utah cities are on the list. However, we understand that raids and threats of raids directly impact our state. Operations such as this run counter to the values we uphold in our state. Raids add to the climate of fear for immigrant families pushing children and parents to be more likely to miss school, work, church services, doctors’ appointments, and more. Research shows that children are negatively affected by raids, especially those who witness arrests in a home setting, being more likely to suffer from mental and behavioral health issues.

Voices for Utah Children will continue to oppose measures like this that aim to separate and bring terror to our immigrant neighbors, colleagues, friends, and loved ones.  We are proud to continue being a part of the Enriching Utah Coalition to promote dialogue and policies that reflect human rights and dignity for all, including immigrants and refugees. We continue to call on our local officials to speak out against this plan and support immigrant families impacted by deportations and raids.  

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Published in News & Blog
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