Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Immigrants, Citizens Gather In Salt Lake In Solidarity For Separated Families

Seated attendees listen to speakers at the vigil holding unlit candles.
Tamsen Maloy

In response to the separation of migrant families crossing the U.S./Mexico border, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement in support of keeping families together. A non-partisan group of Mormon women held a vigil in Salt Lake City last weekend for families affected by the separations.

The vigil was hosted by the organization Mormon Women for Ethical Government, at City Creek Park in Salt Lake City—a stone's throw away from Temple Square and less than a block from the LDS church office building. It was a small gathering of mostly women. Participants held signs of support—both in English and Spanish. Speakers included attorneys, immigrants and refugees.

One of the speakers—Cynthia De La Cruz—is a Dreamer—a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

"I’ve carried the undocumented non-citizen label my entire life, even though I was raised in the U.S. since I was two years old," De La Cruz said. "I always felt my mom was secretly scared that we would be deported, so we didn’t have many friends over. She always told me to be nice to everyone because you don’t want to make someone angry enough to call immigration and deport us."

De La Cruz is a student at Brigham Young University. She was baptized a member of the LDS church when she was 19. She’s married and is waiting for her green card.

As a Mormon and undocumented immigrant, De La Cruz said she is comforted by her church’s official statements in support of Dreamers and keeping families together, but also feels conflicted about fellow members who are less supportive of her status.

"It’s a little hard," De La Cruz said. "Because I know the Church says strengthen each other, like be there for support. And we’re not bad people. I know there’s a lot of us who are trying to make a living and I know my parents aren’t bad."

Most people at the park were a part of the vigil. But a lone counter-protester, Martin Turner, said people need to focus on American citizens who have been separated from their families, like families with fathers in prison. He said a possible solution is to relax domestic violence laws so fathers convicted of that crime can stay with their families. According to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, drug offenses, not domestic violence, result in the most incarcerations.

Mormon Women for Ethical Government calls for reunification of families and a complete end to the Zero Tolerance policy.