Around the mountains: Immigrants advised to be ready for strict law in Utah |

Around the mountains: Immigrants advised to be ready for strict law in Utah

PARK CITY, Utah ” Attendees of St. Mary’s Catholic Church were advised, in a communication read in Spanish, of changes to be implemented in Utah beginning in July. A new law requires local sheriff’s deputies and police officers to arrest people if, in the course of other duties, they discover they are in the United States without proof of legal residency.

Father Bob Bussen, a religious leader at the church, told the Park Record that there is a “growing fear in the immigrant community, legal and non-legal, that any immigrant is up for suspicion. They’re very concerned that they’re going to lose their jobs or that the police will pick them up. They’re afraid to open their doors.”

Immigrants were warned at the church to carry the telephone number of an attorney in case of arrest and to have a plan should a family member get deported.

The new law also requires public employers and business that contract with the government to use a system that verifies the work status of new employees. Also, the law requires government agencies to verify the immigration status of someone who applies for state or local benefits.

“They’re going to go out and arrest your baker and your landscaper and put them in jail simply for being here illegally,” said Bussen. “We’ll be using our jails as holding pens when we need them to get criminals.”

The bill’s premise, he added, is to “create fear, and the bill should scare the hell out of all of us. We would have the same fear if, as Americans, we were stopped by the police.”

BANFF, Alberta ” In the early days of spring, two male grizzly bears were seen in Banff National Park feeding on a deer carcass. Researchers said the bears had probably wintered at higher elevations, as they normally do, but smelled the carcass and made their way down. Grizzlies were seen even earlier last year, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, but females and cubs usually don’t emerge until late April or early May.

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. -“Skier days have been flat from last year, but revenue for Intrawest at its Mammoth Mountain operation has been down 5 percent, with significant drop-offs in both retail outlets and ski school, reports The Sheet.

Rusty Gregory, ski area manager at Mammoth, told a forum recently that getting financing has become much more difficult. Before the recession, a ski area operator could borrow up to five times its cash flow. Now, that’s been reduced to three times cash flow ” but only for those who have a track record. Those without a credit history won’t be able to get money.

ASPEN ” In response to new evidence of a more severe recession than expected, city halls are trimming their budgets. The current wave of cuts is most directly affecting employees of ski town governments.

As was expected, Aspen has cut another $1 million, on top of $2.4 million already. The budget as it now stands is just shy of $23 million.

The new cuts are resulting in an average $1,700 reduction in benefits to employees. If necessary, the next round of cuts will be to the health, dental and vision plans for employees.

Steve Barwick, the city manager, said the government can’t afford increased health insurance costs at a rate of 8 percent a year, when the general fund revenues are only growing at 1 to 2 percent annual.

Cuts made so far amount to an 11 percent decrease in the general fund for 2009. Citing city officials, The Aspen Times reports that tax revenues are expected to drop 12 percent this year.

Telluride, meanwhile, has begun laying off city employees, six altogether. “Generally speaking they have known that something like this could happen for a long time,” said Stu Fraser, the town’s mayor. The Telluride Watch reports that the job cuts will save the town $400,000 through the year – but the town is still short $2 million.

Breckenridge is also eyeing a second tier of cuts that include delaying an affordable-housing project. A third tier would include cuts to the staff.

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