Utah Leaders Launch Coalition for Immigration Reform

A coalition of conservative, business, and community leaders from across Utah launched a new group advocating for immigration reform, an initiative of the New American Economy.

The effort is one of a dozen statewide coalitions calling for a responsible solution to the country’s broken immigration system that secures the border, grows the economy, and recognizes that America cannot and should not engage in mass deportations of millions of productive members of society.

“We as a country have to address our immigration problem. This is the chance for Republicans to be the party that finally fixes the broken immigration system in a way that keeps America safe but also respects how important immigration and immigrants are to our country and our future. Immigrants want to be here, work hard and contribute to what makes America great,” said Suzanne Mulet, Salt Lake County Republican Chairwoman and Coalition Co-Chair. “We need to make it less cumbersome to obtain citizenship or work permits. Refugees are helped through the Americanization process, but many of our undocumented aren’t. It’s long past due that Congress and the President find some real solutions.”

“Immigrants have always been an important part of our strength as a country and a state,” said Mike Winder, State Representative-Elect and former West Valley City Mayor and Coalition Co-Chair. “Congress has the opportunity this next year to both secure our borders, and support an immigration system that truly works. We encourage our federal leaders to pass sensible immigration reform.”

Leaders in the Utah coalition include:

  • Mike Winder – State Representative-Elect, Former West Valley City Mayor and Coalition Co-Chair
  • Suzanne Mulet – Salt Lake County Republican Chairwoman and Coalition Co-Chair
  • Jake Garn – Former U.S. Senator and Former Salt Lake City Mayor
  • Aimee Winder Newton – Salt Lake County Councilwoman
  • Stan Parrish – President and CEO, Sandy Chamber of Commerce and Former U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch’s Chief of Staff
  • Todd Weiler – Utah State Senator
  • Marco Diaz – Former National Vice-Chair, US Republican Hispanic Assembly. Former State Chair, Utah Republican Hispanic Assembly
  • Jorge Dennis – President, EnviroKleen
  • Paul Mero – CEO, Next Generation Freedom Fund
  • Howard Stephenson – President and CEO, Utah Taxpayers Association and Utah State Senator
  • Stan Lockhart – Paul Rodgers & Associates and Former Utah Republican Chairman
  • Holly Richardson – Former Utah State Representative
  • Bret Millburn – Davis County Commissioner 
  • Tim Wheelwright – Shareholder, Durham, Jones and Pinegar and Immigration Reform Task Force Chair at the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce        

A recent study by NAE underlines the critical role that immigrants play in Utah’s economy. In Utah, there are over 250,000 immigrants living in Utah. Between 2010 and 2014 alone, almost 21,000 people immigrated to Utah. In 2014, immigrants in Utah earned $5.2 billion in income.Of that $5.2 billion, $410.3 million went to state and local taxes, and $784.8 million went to federal taxes. Utah is home to roughly 106,000 undocumented immigrants—meaning undocumented immigrants comprise about 4% of the state’s population. 84% of these immigrants have been in the United States for five years or more. In 2014, undocumented immigrants in Utah earned approximately $1.4 billion in income, of which $56.6 million went to state and local taxes and $86.8 million went to federal taxes. These and other compelling statistics on immigrants in Utah can be found in the NAE report here.

“It is important that Utah attracts and retains the world’s top innovators and entrepreneurs. Currently, Utah has a very vibrant and growing technology community that needs high-skilled workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Stan Parrish, President and CEO, Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce. “Granting visas to scientists, technology graduates, engineers, mathematicians, and other innovators, especially those who train at top U.S. universities, is the right thing to do in order to remain economically competitive in a global economy. Today’s immigration laws are not written for today’s Utah businesses. A modern economy needs modern immigration laws and Congress needs to act.”

The twelve coalitions of state and local leaders in multiple states organized to make sure that Congress understands that fixing our country’s broken immigration system means more than just securing the border. The United States immigration system requires a broader solution that provides for the security of Americans and their jobs, the advancement of the economy, and a viable path to legal status for the undocumented immigrants who work and live in American communities.