News of immigration and customs enforcement raids spread nationwide last week. The media broadcast warnings in the lead up to the weekend while social media sites displayed photos of immigration vehicles parked in familiar areas around in Park City. The ICE operations were not scheduled to happen in Utah.
A photo of a truck with border patrol graphics on it was circulated on social media last weekend. It was parked in the Holiday Village shopping area on Kearns Boulevard. Mark Alvarez is an immigration attorney and he says this type of media post needs special scrutiny from journalists and anyone else who is consuming the information.
“If a journalist or somebody on the radio or in print, wherever they may be, isn’t alert to some of the problems with that information, they may spread a rumor that really has no foundation in fact.”
The photo of the vehicle can be found on KPCW.org. The vehicle is boldly detailed with border patrol graphics and slogans. The entire front hood is an American Flag. After seeing the image, Alvarez says there are many incongruities with the location of the vehicle and its paint job. He says it is highly unlikely a border patrol vehicle would be seen in Utah. He says a flag painted on an official vehicle is suspect and there is the possibility the vehicle belongs to one of the private groups that tries to supplement border patrol. He says the photo may be genuine but does not believe the vehicle is official.
“A border patrol vehicle would not be seen here in Utah. Now a border patrol has the authority to arrest people within a certain distance of the border but they would not come up to Utah. Now, there could be ICE vehicles.”
Alvarez has provided community immigration education sessions to explain what people can expect from ICE operations.
“Not only what an undocumented immigrant can do but also people around that person so that people don’t cave in, they don’t fall for rumors. But, it’s unfortunate, in a place like Park City, where we know in certain industries undocumented people are working, some rumors mixed with the anxiety, can cause, maybe not panic, but something very close to it.”
KPCW could not verify the ownership of the vehicle or if the photo is doctored in any way. There is no border control office in Utah. The Customs and Border Protection office provides security as a port of entry for the Salt Lake International Airport.
Listen to KPCW for another segment on KPCW’s immigration interview with Mark Alvarez. It will cover the economics and verification process required by businesses who hire foreign workers.