Recently the Trump Administration, by executive order, allowed states to make additional changes to their own refugee programs including restricting them greatly by taking in fewer refugees than even the administration had already cut the number down to.
It remains to be seen which states will head in what direction, but Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert made it clear that the state’s direction under his leadership would be in the direction of taking in more refugees. Also the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints issued a statement this week reaffirming its support for refugees.
On KVNU’s For the People program on Tuesday, Asha Parekh director of the Utah Refugee Services Office confirmed Utahs’ reputation as a refugee-friendly state.
“What’s amazing about Utah is that we have such an awesome welcoming community. Individuals in the community that step up to volunteer their time and resources to support new families that are arriving in the state, to make sure that they…..know about the school system or that they get some additional resources to make sure that during the holidays- they have gifts,” Parekh explained.
The refugee services office which is a division of the Utah Department of Workforce Services issued its’ annual report on Tuesday that details a year of activities of various programs that help refugees. The report showed that in 2017, Utah took in 799 refugees, but the year before that, the state welcomed more than 12-hundred refugees.
“One of the things that I have always been blown away by is the gratitude that people express for the small things that we are doing to help them in their journey. Because, like you said, they come from these backgrounds where they’ve seen the worst of humanity. You think that there is really no hope left when you’ve seen your neighborhood blown away, people you know, family members killed in front of your eyes.”
Locally the Cache Refugee and Immigrant connection is available if residents would like to find out ways to get involved. Their website is www.cacherefugees.com.
AUDIO: Asha Parekh, director of the Refugee Services Office of Utah talks to Jason Williams on For the People