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Ogden communities affirm responsibilities toward immigrants

Amid national tensions toward travel bans and federal borders, members within the Ogden community are making formal and informal resolutions to support and provide aid to immigrants and refugees.

Members of the local populace expressed their thoughts toward Ogden’s immigrant past and ongoing legacy.

The Ogden City Council proposed a resolution on May 16 suggesting to city officials the urgency of welcoming and protecting those immigrants seeking aid. City Council Member Luis Lopez and Mayor Mike Caldwell wrote the proposal.

“Ogden is committed to always offer an unconditional welcome,” Caldwell said at the city council meeting. “We affirm a commitment to reaffirm civil liberties, religious freedoms and dignity of all residents, including immigrants, and encourage compassion for refugees seeking protection in Ogden City.”

Mayra Camairgo, 17, center, a Dallas high school student stands on the steps of Dallas City Hall with friends as they protest new immigration laws in Dallas, Texas, Monday, March 27, 2006. (Jeffery Washington/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/KRT)

While the mayor read the proposed resolution aloud in English, Lopez translated the same document in Spanish.

The members of the city council discussed the resolution to support immigrants in the community. They mentioned Ogden’s historical foreign influences, so the council and public could understand the impact of the proposal.

The council motioned to support this resolution and passed it unanimously.

With the resolution supported, Caldwell and Lopez wished to emphasize the council’s gratitude toward the community for helping create an atmosphere of acceptance.

“We express our appreciation for the many local institutions and individuals that are looking to build a climate of trust and support for everyone in the community,” Caldwell said at the city council meeting.

While the city council is dedicating their support to immigrants, the impact of the resolution is sweeping across Ogden.

Members of the Weber State community are also sharing their support toward the resolution made by the Ogden City Council.

“Immigration is what makes our community more diverse and open to everyone,” said Salim Ben Khalifa, Diversity and Unity Vice President of the Weber State University Student Association. “Religion, cultural and social diversity is coming from immigrants that benefits the society by adding values and experience. Weber State has great programs to include all their students from different backgrounds.”

WSU’s Diversity and Inclusivity programs include events and gatherings that focus on helping the general student population better understand the struggles that lesser-accepted minorities deal with on a regular basis.

“I am thrilled with the ongoing inclusive direction Ogden City has taken to creating welcoming spaces for all of us who work, play, live, learn and volunteer in this community,” said Adrienne Andrews, WSU Chief Diversity Officer. “By passing a resolution to support immigrants in our community, we are reminding each other that to belong, we must feel welcome and to feel welcome, we must be seen. By recognizing the funds of knowledge and experiences people bring to the table, we add value, recognize possibility and are able to turn obstacles into opportunities.”

Jose Molina marches with the Honduras flag, which is where he was born, during the "Day Without Latinos" march and rally for immigration rights in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Thursday, March 23, 2006. (Kristyna Wentz-Graff/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/KRT)

The Ogden School District also made a similar resolution to help the children in their jurisdiction.

The Ogden City School District Board of Education held a meeting on May 18, allotting several minutes for a new proposal to aid and encourage children with immigrant parents.

The district’s resolution is shorter than the city council’s but has similar tones and goals. The board members “committed to providing equal access to education for all those attending school, or while on Ogden City School District property, regardless of immigration status.”

The board’s official statement took several revisions to fit the exact standards they wished to create. For example, the board wished to emphasize that it is only those students who attend the schools, or are on the property, that the district is obligated to help.

If the child does not fit that criteria, the district is not compelled to provide equal access.

The district’s resolution passed unanimously and those attending the board meeting applauded its approval.

Although the district’s new goal to support the children of immigrants comes at the end of the school year, many are already feeling impacted by its formation.

Erin Rosier graduated from WSU with a degree in Social Science Composite Teaching and is now a full-time teacher. Her experience as a teacher has helped her understand the gravity of the school district’s resolution.

“By putting out this resolution, the district is welcoming every student to come and learn,” Rosier said. “I believe that families who do not have immigration status are afraid to send their children to school. This resolution reassures those families that the school district is behind them and will welcome their children with open arms, no matter what.”

Rosier also expects an increase in Ogden School District’s enrollment because those in immigrant families will feel more accepted than in previous years.

This type of diversity is not just important for children attending school or refugees seeking a new home ― it’s also a necessary facet in the world of those who are native to America but wanting to help contribute to the world, as Khalifa points out.

“One of the major requirements in today’s jobs is inclusivity,” Khalifa said. “Through diversity, we can all learn more about inclusivity and be more open minded.”

Ogden City and Ogden School District have set a standard for the entire community with their new affirmations of support toward immigrants, refugees and the families of those parties.

“This benefits not only our city,” Andrews said, “but Weber State University, too, as we grow our national and international populations.”

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