Utahns rally in Provo in support of all immigrants

Organizers and speakers stand in front of the Provo Historic Courthouse during a Stand With All Immigrants Utah rally on Saturday.

Organizers and speakers stand in front of the Provo Historic Courthouse during a Stand With All Immigrants Utah rally on Saturday. (Sydnee Gonzalez, KSL.com)


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PROVO — Cold temperatures and rainy skies didn't stop about 100 people from attending a rally in support of immigrants in Provo Saturday.

The rally was organized by Stand With All Immigrants Utah, a recently organized group advocating for immigrants in the state. The group focused on the importance of supporting all immigrants, regardless of legal status, country of origin, race or ethnicity.

"We're hoping to bring awareness to the fact that immigration is really complex and that there are a lot of varying statuses and pathways that people take to migrate," rally organizer Noriadnys Gomez said. "We tend to create these narratives that these immigrants are worthy and these ones aren't. We really want to push past that idea and be able to remind everyone that every single person, every single resident whether lawful or not, is contributing to our communities and they need our help."

Nadia Terrón, another one of the group's organizers and a Mexican immigrant, added that not all immigrants have the same experience in the U.S.

"Unfortunately, the system is a lot more complex than people think. It's not as black and white as the media portrays it," Terrón said. "You are treated differently by the color of your skin, what country you come from, how much money you have."

Kiese Mpongo, the daughter of Congolese immigrants, expressed frustration at watching her parents and other immigrants being called things like "illegal" or "aliens" when the U.S. is a country built upon colonized land.

"When I see immigrants, I see providers, I see protectors, I see dreamers and I see achievers," she said. "When I see immigrants, I see divinity."

Gomez, a Venezuelan immigrant with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), said she and the other group organizers were motivated to start Stand With All Immigrants Utah to help unite Utahns in support of immigrants.

Utahns rally in Provo in support of all immigrants
Photo: Sydnee Gonzalez, KSL.com

"We just started to see that there was advocacy for a lot of other things throughout the state, which is awesome and we love it. We're a part of that too," Gomez said. "But we decided that it was severely lacking for immigrants and for our own communities."

Saane Siale, the daughter of Pacific Islander immigrants, said many U.S.-born citizens often overlook how much good immigrants contribute to their communities.

"We're here to remind you to stop forgetting about immigrants and to remember why they are important to the foundation and future of every community and every state, including Utah," Siale said. "There isn't just one type of immigrant. From Mexico to Ukraine, Tahiti to Vietnam, and many other places unnamed — we want each of you to see yourselves in this cause because it does include all of us."

BYU professor and Italian immigrant Alessandro Rosborough said supporting immigrants is crucial from an education standpoint and that Utah is falling short.

"We've really got a lot of work to do in our education system to support minorities and those that are minority language speakers — English learners, immigrants, refugees — whatever labels you want to put on that, we have a lot of work to do," he said.

"It's a serious problem. And so I think we're really need to support our immigrants and realize that our history is a history of immigrants to this country. If we can do that better, I think we will make all our society and our education system and beyond so much better."

Utahns rally in Provo in support of all immigrants
Photo: Sydnee Gonzalez, KSL.com

For Chicho Santana, a DACA recipient from Michoacan, Mexico, the rally was an uplifting experience.

"It's so refreshing to see all so many people like you," said Chicho, adding that it was his first time attending a rally. "Hearing other people's stories, it feels good like you have friends, you have other people rooting for you and starting to come together in here in Utah."

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Sydnee Chapman Gonzalez is a reporter and recent Utah transplant. She works at the Utah Investigative Journalism Project and was previously at KSL.com and the Wenatchee World in Washington. Her reporting has focused on marginalized communities, homelessness and local government. She grew up in Arizona and has lived in various parts of Mexico. During her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, rock climbing and embroidery.

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