Ahead of Caucus, Local Leaders Urge Better Immigration Conversation

Communications Associate

March 21, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY — Local leaders gathered this morning at a panel discussion to engage in a more positive conversation on immigrants and immigration reform.

Panelists emphasized the positive impact that immigrants have had on our communities and economy and stressed that the majority of Americans want broad immigration reform for a better society. Speakers also called on elected officials to fix the broken immigration system and end the anti-immigrant rhetoric that the presidential campaign has perpetuated.

The following are quotes from speakers at Monday’s event:

Steve Klemz, Pastor, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church:

“As leaders who embrace the Utah Compact, it is a blessing to see how our community grows stronger as we confront our broken immigration system. I believe that immigration and refugee policies express who we are as a nation. We can respond in fear (building bigger walls) or in faith (standing for welcome). I came away renewed in faith for what it means to work together. As people of faith, we may not always agree on justice or the way for God’s peace, but we should never fall silent in working to bring about justice and peace.”

Tom McClenahan, Executive Director, Vine Institute:

“Twenty years ago there were two Spanish-speaking congregations. Now there are over 300 in Salt Lake Valley. That does not even count immigrants from other foreign countries. We need a law that keeps families together. As a faith leader I see the support that people receive from the faith community as the most important factor in the success of their resettlement.”

Andrew Moriarty, Chapter Director, FWD.us:

Today’s conversation shows us that Utah businesses, law enforcement, faith leaders and community members support commonsense immigration reform, including securing our borders, fixing the legal system so the best and brightest can live and work here, and providing a pathway to legalization for 11 million undocumented people living in the shadows. It is vital to growing local economies, protecting our communities, keeping families together and staying true to the values of our faith and conscience.”

Josh Scharman, Deputy Chief, Salt Lake City Police Department:

“We have clearly seen more immigrants come into Utah in recent years. As a police department, we love the diversity and energy it brings to our communities. New cultures enhance our quality of life. We also see fear the immigrant community has as it interacts with law enforcement because of their concern about immigration status as well as their cultural understandings of law enforcement. We are working to reach out to help better educate our immigrant community on the role of law enforcement.”

Michelle Warren, Mountain West Consultant, Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform:

“This event demonstrates that the American people in all aspects of the community, whether it be faith, law enforcement or business, understand the benefit of welcoming immigrants into our society. It is time for our politicians to end the negative rhetoric toward immigrants and represent the true will of the people by fixing our broken immigration system.”

Tim Wheelwright, Task Force Chair and Shareholder at Durham Jones & Pinegar:

“It is so refreshing to see that leaders in our local community, including the Salt Lake Chamber and other organizations, are still coming together to demand meaningful immigration reform. Every week I talk to individuals who are impacted by a dysfunctional and outdated immigration system. We need to find effective solutions to modernize our immigration system, including defining a reasonable pathway to legalization so otherwise law-abiding individuals can come out of the shadows and work freely.”