Vigil focuses on the impact of immigration policy on families

Posted at 9:36 PM, Dec 12, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-13 00:55:40-05

SALT LAKE CITY - A group of young Utahns who call themselves the Dream Team took over a corner of downtown Salt Lake City's Main Street Plaza on Wednesday. Their goal was to give sightseers a look at the faces of people who live with the possibility of deportation.

Six years ago Wednesday, 1,300 undocumented workers at the Swift meat-packing plants were detained in raids across the country. 150 of those workers came from the plant in Hyrum.

On Wednesday, a group of young activists chose a place full of families to talk about the impact of immigration policy on families.

"This is a country that espouses family values, but cannot find a way to keep these families together. It's unspeakable," said Rev. Steve Klemz, a pastor at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Among those activists was Raymi Gutierrez, who faced the issue of deportation of family members on the day after Christmas 2008.

"I almost lost six members of my family so it's hard," Gutierrez said. "I'm a citizen here but I might have lost some of my family. A couple years ago we received letters of deportation at this time of year. It's really really hard when you feel like you're never going to see your family again."

The Washington D.C. based Center for Immigration Studies published a paper about the Swift raids in 2009. In it, they said working conditions and wages got better at the plants after the raids.

The LDS Church owns the Main Street Plaza. They did not formally endorse the vigil, but they did grant a permit for the Salt Lake Dream Team's event.