In a recent letter to President Donald Trump, Utah’s Gov. Gary Herbert urged the president to allow Utah to accept more refugees within the state.
“We have historically accepted and resettled more than 1,000 refugees each year from a variety of troubled regions of the world,” Herbert wrote in a letter to the president. “Unfortunately, that number has dropped for the past two years and is on track to decrease more this year.”
Veronica Smith, the volunteer coordinator at the Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection, said she and others at her organization are grateful for the welcoming attitude of leaders in the state and hope it leads to increasing support for refugees in Utah policy.
“Starting with a welcoming attitude is a key point for making change,” Smith said. “I would love to see some of these state applications for public services or benefits to be a little bit more user-friendly for the population they were created for.”
Among the many services CRIC offers are walk-in hours where refugees and immigrants can get help filling out forms, so Smith said she has firsthand experience regarding what could make state applications more accessible.
The governor’s letter, dated Oct. 24, began circulating on social media this week and is Herbert’s response to a recent executive order regarding refugee resettlement policies. In it, the governor cites the history of Utah as to why refugee resettlement is important to the state.
“Our state was founded by religious refugees fleeing persecution in the Eastern United States,” Herbert wrote. “As a result we empathize deeply with individuals and groups who have been forced from their homes and we love giving them a new home and a new life.”
Herbert wrote that he recognized there was a logistical limit to the number of refugees that could be resettled into an area, but that “in Utah we are far from reaching that limit.”
“We work closely with our local resettlement agencies and many faith-based organizations,” Herber wrote. “We have the capacity and public will to resettle and integrate at least as many refugees and we have in the past.”