Millions spent in Utah state prison for illegal immigrants.

Utah illegal immigration issue in the works                                                                                                                                   by MCKENZIE DEAN

With the issue of illegal immigration vastly growing, Utah is taking action to make a better situation out of a sticky one for every person that resides in the Beehive State.

As of most recent, Bloomberg Business Week, reported in its Feb. 23 issue, the state of Utah spends eight million dollars a year to keep nearly 300 illegal immigrants in prison. In addition, the state spends $55 million on undocumented children’s education.

Like Utah, the rest of America continues to pay costs associated with illegal immigration, as courts and the federal government continue to wrestle with the issue.

In 1994, Congress’ established the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). With good intentions, the government established a trilateral trade bloc among the United States, Canada and Mexico. Since its creation, some critics argue, NAFTA has backfired and developed into a large contributor towards illegal immigration.

“Ninety percent of trade that happened through the agreement were drugs. In addition, it lowered the amount of patrolling between the borders, allowing many undocumented people to come to the U.S,” said Scott Haskell, West Jordan Utah Police force. “It is an agreement that backfired on us and has been a large contributor towards the mass amount of illegal immigrants living in America currently.”

That in mind, the government allowed more than intended to effect America and the issue of illegal immigration to vastly grow.

Here within the state of Utah, it has been an issue that has caught national attention. A Utah law in which police were required to verify immigration status of victims of a felony, is actually violating the United States Constitution.

“Racial Profiling is committed too much and we need to allow it not to happen,” said Salt Lake City Chief Chris Burbank. “A different tone needs to be set.”

Simply asking undocumented immigrants for personal information interferes with how the government pursues its priorities in federal law enforcement.

With the knowledge that there is no way to completely stop illegal immigration, there are numerous ways the judicial system can improve the situation, some say.

“Working to become legal is the biggest and best step that immigrants can do. The ability to earn a work visa will also prevent enforcement issues from continuing as much as they do,” said Rick Marshall, Nye County, Nev., Assistant Sheriff.

Nye County, which is located in rural Nevada, has taken positive steps toward addressing illegal immigration.

A woman in the county had entered the United States illegally.  While she was growing up, her parents worked to gain legal status. She had earned her work visa, become a U.S citizen and later graduated from the Nye County Police Academy to join the Nye County Sheriff’s police force with Marshall.

Situations like these are what need to occur more often. People are not aware of their right and things to do in order to gain citizenship, noted Marshall.

“There is definitely a need for more understanding towards every citizen here,” Burbank said. “It would be a failure of our system if we allow a person to become victimized without their own understanding of what is to be justifiably right.”

Occupy Salt Lake movement continues after a peaceful eviction

by Tricia Oliphant

Isaac Hoppe, who first became homeless about eight years ago, was on her last limb. She felt she had done everything possible to find work but did not see any results. She was ready to quit.

Last October, Hoppe saw a flier on a light post that gave her new hope. This flier advertised participation in the local Occupy Salt Lake movement that would commence the following day.

“I was pretty close to the end. On October 5, had I not read the declaration on a light pole, I think I would have given up on life completely,” Hoppe said.

Hoppe is one of several protesters who joined the Occupy Salt Lake movement in harmony with the Occupy Wall Street movement on Oct. 6, 2011. Salt Lake City has become one of hundreds of cities worldwide where demonstrators have congregated and camped in an effort to make their voices heard. Among other motives, the demonstrators feel 99 percent of the population is not fairly represented by the government; instead, only the voice of the wealthy 1 percent of the population is heard. This cause compelled people like Hoppe to join the Occupy movement.

“It’s not about blame; it’s understanding that we have all had a hand in getting the world where it is,” Hoppe said.

For more than a month, Salt Lake City protesters gathered in Pioneer Park downtown, living out of tents and sharing donated food.

The protest was challenged on Nov. 11, 2011 when participant Michael Manhard died in his tent.  Consequently, Salt Lake police officers evicted all Occupy protesters from Pioneer Park the next day.

Memories of Manhard’s death, the subsequent eviction, and how police handled both continue to upset Occupy participants.

Soon after the discovery of Manhard’s body, Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank held a press conference where he announced that all demonstrators must evacuate the park within 36 hours due to Manhard’s death and sanitation issues.

“We felt it would have been better to have a private meeting [with Chief Burbank],” Hoppe said. “I think it was a breach of trust that he made a public event of the death of one of our participants.”

Burbank gave the protesters too little time to evacuate and remove their belongings and, as a result, many lost their belongings, said protester and cook Raphael Cordray.

Cordray said that two dump trucks and a front loader were used to remove all unclaimed belongings on the night of the evacuation. “It was pretty awful,” she said. “Some people weren’t prepared to leave.”

Although several participants were upset by the short eviction notice, they still offered Burbank and the Salt Lake City police some praise for the otherwise peaceful eviction.

“Burbank does a lot better than some folk,” Cordray said.

Upon evicting the group, the police did not dress in riot gear and did not use pepper spray or other harmful force, as was the case in Oakland, Calif. Instead, they spoke with protesters and stated their options: leave peacefully, receive a citation, or stay and be arrested.

“Pepper spray is a use of force. There are other ways to deal with it,” Burbank said. “When you have a relationship, it works a lot better.”

Nineteen protesters were arrested, Cordray said.

Since the eviction from Pioneer Park in November, some of the participants relocated to where they currently camp at the Gallivan Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

At present, only a dozen protesters camp full-time at the Gallivan Center.  This reduction of campers is due to smaller space, as well as a requirement to follow strict regulations.

The no drugs/violence/alcohol policy is now enforced more thoroughly than it was at Pioneer Park, Hoppe said. She has remained among the last camping protesters.

Tougher regulations at Gallivan mean participants can no longer cook food at their campsites or give food away.  These regulations are a result of the poor sanitation concerns at Pioneer Park.

Consequently, participants are in partnership with One World Café, where they eat their meals as well as volunteer their time.

Occupy Salt Lake will be allowed to stay at the Gallivan Center until May, Hoppe said. At that point, the city’s summer activities at the site will start, forcing another relocation for the demonstrators.

Several protesters who are not actively camping at the Gallivan Center meet with other protesters at the Salt Lake City Public Library at bi-weekly meetings to discuss current issues and to make plans.

“We want to work with the city,” Hoppe said.

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