New initiative to increase U.S. citizenship
Today I joined partners in the faith, government, business, and education sectors to launch the new United for Citizenship effort. The new program is geared towards the 22,000 permanent legal residents living in Salt Lake County - with the goal to help them become U.S. citizens.
There are many benefits that come with citizenship, including better education opportunities, easier travel, and access to more jobs. Those who are naturalized also increase their earning potential by 10 percent - that’s money that can be put back into our local economy, helping it to grow. Unfortunately, eligible residents encounter barriers to gaining U.S. citizenship, such as a lack of information, a confusing process, tough English and civic tests, and expensive fees.
Understanding these benefits and barriers is what shaped United for Citizenship. Using a two-pronged approach we are: (1) making information about resources such as legal and language help, more easily available; and (2) enlisting the help of others in the community to participate. Our new website at unitedforcitizenship.org is a one-stop-shop where residents can find resources to become U.S. citizens, and where business and nonprofit organizations can sign up to join the effort.
My hope is that those who are eligible for citizenship will take that first step; and that those who started but then got stuck, will take that next step.
There are so many community partners supporting and working on United for Citizenship. Together we welcome immigrants and recognize the contributions immigrants make in our community. It is with this broad support that we will share the American Dream with so many of our friends and neighbors.
News conference to launch United for Citizenship
Organizations represented at the launch:
Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Utah State Legislature: Senators Jani Iwamoto & Curtis Bramble
Salt Lake Chamber & Downtown Alliance
Salt Lake Community College
Operation Rio Grande – one year later
When I joined state and city leaders to launch Operation Rio Grande one year ago, I said we cannot jail our way out the problem. Now, a year later, in-patient residential treatment for drug abuse and mental illness has expanded by 243, people who were once on the street are now in safe, affordable sober living housing, and our community is safer.
There is still more work to do, more challenges ahead. One thing we know for sure, is that those who have accepted help and stuck with it, are getting back on their feet and rejoining society.
My team and I continue to expand treatment options and work to remove barriers that can prevent people from regaining self-reliance. We work with the behavioral health treatment providers, the courts, law enforcement, and state and local leaders. People who once thought they were destined to die on the street are getting housing, jobs, and reuniting with loved ones. Our work is not only compassionate, it also saves tax dollars. It is cheaper to provide treatment than for those same individuals to cycle in and out of jail.
More on Operation Rio Grande
Photo caption: Mayor McAdams with Emily and Beth who were arrested in Operation Rio Grande, and Beth’s daughter Kelsey. Emily and Beth are both in treatment and have stable jobs.
Kids and youth become US citizens at naturalization ceremony
I recently had the honor to speak to kids and their families at a naturalization ceremony where 17 young people took the oath of citizenship. It is an inspirational event – to see new hope and opportunity for these families come to life. Many of these families come to America against challenging odds, escaping danger and trauma. New Americans should be proud of their new identity as United States citizens, while remembering their roots. Where they come from - their cultures and history - should be a strong foundation as they grow here in their adopted home.
I believe that our nation’s success is due in no small part to the energy, ideas and cultural diversity these individuals bring to our community. It is an honor for me to welcome these new citizens.
July is a fun-filled month, especially in our state where we get two chances to celebrate. The 4th of July and Pioneer Day are often celebrated with BBQs, parades, and fireworks. Nothing spoils family fun like fire damage or injury. That's why Unified Fire Authority Chief Petersen and I are reminding residents to be extra cautious with fireworks this year.
Weather conditions in Utah make for high fire danger right now. We ask that everyone refer to the fireworks restrictions map to see where fireworks are allowed, and check back often for more restrictions that may be set throughout the month. Safety is something we all want while enjoying the holidays with friends and family.
Here are few reminders and safety tips:
- In unrestricted areas, fireworks are allowed on July 2 - July 5, and July 22 - July 25
- Read caution labels and descriptions on fireworks' packages before discharge
- When setting off fireworks, have a bucket of water or hose nearby
- Wear glasses to protect your eyes when using fireworks
- Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minues then soak it in a bucket of water.
Salt Lake County receives national recognition for welcoming immigrants
Today I had the honor to announce that Salt Lake County is the first county in the nation to be
certified as a welcoming community by
Welcoming America, a non-profit, non-partisan organization.
At a time when there is so much divisiveness over immigration at the national level, public and private partners have come together in Utah to find a path forward to a more resilient and inclusive economy. We are looking to harness the wealth and the vibrancy that comes from diversity and as we do so, Salt Lake County stands out in the global workforce as a welcoming place.
When we began this effort several years ago, we asked ourselves some questions: What are the common values shared across new and older residents of this community? What are the opportunities for real listening, sharing and understand across differences in our backgrounds? What bridge building efforts already exist in this community that can be built on—what are the existing assets and who are the trusted community leaders?
To be certified as welcoming, we met the core requirements in seven categories critical to building a welcoming community: Government, Leadership, Equitable Access, Civic Engagement, Connected Communities, Education, Economic Development and Safe Communities. We worked closely with our partners at the Salt Lake Chamber and the local business community, with the education community, with local elected officials, law enforcement, faith leaders and many others.
We also had strong participation by immigrant community leaders and businesses. They are examples of the economic and cultural strength we want to build on and expand.
Utah has long been a state where we roll up our sleeves and come together around solutions that bring us together. This Welcoming Standard certification is the latest example of what we can achieve with good will, commitment and teamwork.
slco.org/welcoming-salt-lake to learn more about our efforts to welcome immigrants and New Americans.