Utah Leaders Respond to ICE Office Memo

SALT LAKE CITY (Oct. 6, 2023) – Gov. Spencer Cox, Senate President J. Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson issued the following statement regarding the opposition of Utah sheriffs toward policies of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):

“Utah has never been a “sanctuary state” nor have any of our cities. In an effort to apply political pressure to Utah sheriffs, the ICE Salt Lake City Field Office drafted a memo unilaterally designating Utah as a sanctuary state. During a meeting with Utah elected officials, a field office director for ICE indicated the memo purporting to designate Utah as a sanctuary state will be withdrawn and acknowledged the memo was unjustified.

“The border crisis, and the consequent increase in ICE detainees, represents a federal failure, not a state or local failure. Utah’s cities and local law enforcement officials are under no obligation to serve as a backstop for longtime immigration failures at the federal level. We certainly want to work constructively with our federal partners, but when ICE requirements become too onerous, Utah’s sheriffs are completely justified in declining to sign agreements with ICE.

“The federal government’s failed policies and inability to protect our country’s border is causing upheaval and strain on states across the nation, including Utah. States are being forced to deal with the public safety, financial and humanitarian consequences of the federal government’s ongoing failure to reform immigration policies.

“We appreciate the field director and ICE for following through on their commitment to publicly recall their inaccurate and misleading memo referencing Utah as a sanctuary state. We urge the federal government to work collaboratively with states to create a compassionate and common-sense solution to our nation’s spiraling border crisis.

“We are a state and a nation of immigrants, but laws must be followed to ensure the safety and well-being of those who choose to call our country home. Utah welcomes immigrants, and we require they use the proper channels, obey our laws and become contributing members of our communities.”