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Utah’s Latino community discuss immigration reform

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Posted at 4:10 PM, Feb 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-05 01:58:57-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Latinos came together on Monday night to discuss the latest proposals on immigration reform.

Some of Utah's Latino population say they want more specifics when it comes to immigration reform, some support amnesty while others oppose it, and some don't necessarily agree with the way local activists are framing the conversation.

They filled a Salt Lake City community center on Monday night to discuss immigration reform and what it might mean for them.

Tony Yapias and Archie Archuelta, two well-known Latino activists, were among the residents who packed the center. They say they'd like to hear more from immigrants to craft a clear message to lawmakers on what Utah Latinos want.

'We're starting to bring the community together. And like Archie and Mark, I'm not elected, I'm not in a position to say I'm the community spokesperson. Anyone here is welcome to organize a meeting or a community group. You do what you have to do," Yapias said.

Yapias, who is the former Director of Hispanic Affairs for the state of Utah, says Latinos don't want amnesty, but some disagree.

"You don't represent me. Sorry, but you don't represent me and a lot of people I organize," said Salt Lake resident Victor Puertis.

Monday night's meeting is just one of many for local activists, who say they also want to visit homes of undocumented immigrants to get a better sense of the thoughts of Utah's Latino community.

President Obama wants a process for immigrants to achieve citizenship. Republicans say they want to defer that until the nation's borders are more secure.

Utah's immigrants say they just want to be recognized for what they bring to the United States, and they'd like more work permits so they can "come out of the shadows."

"Give the people opportunity to feel free and safe. Wanna talk about that? You can do it.  The President can do it. Stop the racism and deportations, put a moratorium on that," Puertis said.

Latinos now make up 13 percent of Utah's population, a number that has grown by almost 80 percent in just the last decade.