After taking over the role as consul general of Mexico for Utah and Wyoming three months ago, José Borjón made a stop in Cache Valley on Friday to meet with civic leaders and community groups.

During his stop, Borjón met with university officials and took part in a discussion forum looking at issues ranging from law enforcement to education to business.

Throughout the first of the three discussions, Borjón listened to mayors and primarily law enforcement personnel seeking suggestions and offering tips about community relations.

“We have a large Hispanic population in the United States and in Utah as well; we at the consulate work in serving them in all public needs,” Borjón told the group. “The community development component is huge. I am very interested in how my community in Utah and specifically in Cache Valley can work together to be part of the fabric of this beautiful town and valley.”

Smithfield Mayor Darrell Simmons thanked Borjón for making the trip to Logan to visit the valley and asked how to improve communications and language.

Simmons asked about what is done at the consulate level to help those immigrated to learn the language or the basic concepts to help them, whether it be buying a home or other areas of daily life.

Borjón said sometimes the process of fully integrating into American life can take two to three generations, and that as a consulate they work with the community to help bolster dual language abilities to strengthen the existing programs.

“What we have learned is that many times our adult population that is here did not finish the basic schooling in Mexico, and we partner to develop adult education for them,” Borjón said. “It can be a first cornerstone to continue their education, and it allows them to learn English, but this also goes to how we can make this more welcoming.”

The needle of the discussion stayed on the topic of making the community more welcoming throughout all realms to allow for Mexican-Americans and those who have immigrated here to work together to build strong communities.

While there isn’t federal grants for English as a Second Language classes, Borjón stressed the need for community partners to help secure resources to address the challenge of addressing the public policies.

Logan City Police Chief Gary Jensen said his department is aware of the communications issues between Hispanic immigrants and some of the non-Spanish speaking officers and that shifts are staffed to include bilingual officers.

“There is a fear. We would certainly like to overcome the fear as it relates to policing,” Jensen told Borjón. “I’m not sure where that fear comes from, but I think a lot of it comes because they (immigrants) think law enforcement is equal to (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) which is not true. We don’t have ICE ideas.”

Jensen went on to speak about his goal of expelling the fear and notion that law enforcement does not want to be part of a community or have Hispanics in the community to succeed as well as anyone else.

Logan Police Lt. Brett Randall said of the 60 officers employed by the city there are 10 that speak Spanish, and he feels that is a huge asset to the department.

“When we find out an officer speaks Spanish, it makes a big difference,” Randall said. “When I started 25 years ago, I was the lone guy who spoke Spanish. We’ve done a good job with those officers, and 99 percent of the time we can meet the demand to speak to people in their native language. I think we do a better job than other communities because we have that resource.”

Borjón thanked the officers for implementing those recourses and said fear in the Hispanic population has several causes.

“It is incredible how misinformation can have a terrible impact in the community. It happens with us as a consulate and even when people talk about how a service is being administered. It comes back to building that community and have multipliers from the community to build relations,” Borjón said.

Jensen said the fear sometimes drives members of the Hispanic community to become victims of crime easier than other residents because they might be worried to call the police to report the crimes.

“It is really partnering shoulder to shoulder to make all these things work for the benefit of the entire community,” Borjón said. “So far, in this half day that I have been here, I have learned there is a great respect for the Hispanic community and an opportunity to share with them more. It just shows that this is a community that is committed and thriving, and we can make this a great opportunity for all and make it more welcoming to all.”

John Zsiray is a journalist at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at Twitter Ramblings: @zsiray


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