‘Protect Today’s Pioneers:’ Group Protests ICE on Utah’s Pioneer Day
Jul 24, 2019, 11:53 PM
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – A group of protesters planned to end their Pioneer Day by camping overnight in front the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in West Valley City.
Organized by Women’s March Provo, the group described the event as a peaceful protest put on by Latter-day Saints and friends of all religions to “protect today’s pioneers.”
“I don’t think that there would be any other way to celebrate Pioneer Day than to advocate for modern pioneers at the border,” said Anna Salvania, a resident of Eagle Mountain who helped organize the protest.
The dozens of protesters gathered in the evening and planned to stay until 9 a.m. Thursday in front of the ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Field Office on Decker Lake Drive.
“As Latter-day Saints, as followers of Christ, as religious people, it’s important that we show compassion and show charity toward those that are needing our help,” said Orem resident and protest organizer Laurel Peacock.
The group called for an end to deportations, for detention camps to close and for better treatment of immigrants at the border.
“Mormon pioneers when first arrived in the state of Utah were, quote-unquote, asylum seekers. They were seeking refuge because of religious persecution,” Peacock said. “We see that as similar to current people that are seeking refuge from their country, whether it’s due to violence or conflict or other sorts of persecution.”
Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, spoke to the crowd of about 50 people. She urged Utahns to have compassion for immigrants.
“People came here in 1847 to pursue a better life for them and their families because of political and religious persecution,” Romero said in an interview with KSL. “Many of the people we see coming over here to the United States of America are coming because of political persecution and because of the things happening in their home country.”
Romero, who serves as first vice president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, said her message is also about urging lawmakers to take action.
“For me this is about really putting pressure on Congress to do something, to look at doing something about comprehensive immigration reform,” Romero said.
The protesters were careful to stay on the sidewalk as they wrapped in foil blankets for the night. They hoped to show solidarity with people showing up at the building Thursday morning for immigration court.