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SALT LAKE CITY -- As immigration continues to be a hot topic in the Utah Legislature, a group of minority leaders held their first public meeting Saturday afternoon.
The "United Immigrant Community of Utah" met inside the Salt Lake County building. The group's goal was to inform and unite the immigrant community and to announce its continuing community action efforts.
However, only a handful of people showed up.
A lot of them are scared. A couple of family members have told me we don't want to go out there because something might happen.
Organizers wondered if the snowy weather kept people away. Ruiz thinks many just didn't want to come to an announced meeting.
"A lot of them are scared. A couple of family members have told me we don't want to go out there because something might happen," said Ruiz.
Still, organizers say that fear makes accomplishing tasks more difficult.
"I think things are getting worse," said Archie Archuleta, a well-known Latino leader. "They're getting worse only from the rhetoric and from the possibility that the law will swoop down."
New immigration laws and bills are being discussed in the Utah Legislature. Archuleta says if the immigrant community doesn't speak up for itself, there's a good chance all the laws will be passed without their input.
It's important for us to continue the opposition to some of these bills. All that talk has primarily focused on Latinos even though there are people from every continent here both legally and illegally.
"It's important for us to continue the opposition to some of these bills," he said. "All that talk has primarily focused on Latinos even though there are people from every continent here both legally and illegally."
Carlos Vazquez is one of those immigrants. He came to Utah from Uruguay looking for a better life for his family.
"My dream is to stay together, just growing up here in the country. We love the country. That's why we're here," he said.
Vazquez also thinks coming to these types of meetings is important, because it allows various groups to understand each other for a stronger overall voice for immigrants.
"Something needs to happen here. Something needs to be fixed here," said Vazquez. "I can feel it every day. People are scared."
Vazquez feels all the immigration talk is centered on Latinos because it's easy to see their skin color and how it looks different from the majority of the population.
"If everyone who came here to this country illegally looked white, then I don't think we would have the problems we have right now," he said.
Organizers asked the few people who were at the meeting to spread the word to other people in their community.
"It's important for them to be involved and informed," said Ruiz. "We need them to be involved."