Antonella Packard: Saratoga Springs, UT
You can be a Utah conservative and a strong advocate for the civil rights of immigrants – but it isn’t easy. Antonella Packard has consistently asserted that support for immigrants’ rights goes hand in hand with “conservative, Constitution-loving, free-market-type” thinking.
Packard came to the U.S. from Honduras as a university student, after which she moved to Utah, where she married into a family of entrepreneurs and was converted to the Church of Latter Day Saints. She got involved early on by helping Mexican immigrants navigate the citizenship process. In recent years, her business acumen in financial consulting earned her positions with the Utah Hispanic Republican Assembly and as chair of the Utah Hispanic Latino Legislative Taskforce.
But when Senator Orrin Hatch’s office sent a DREAM Act activist to jail, where the youth sat without being charged on a Federal Marshal Hold, she raised a strong voice in support of the detainee. For that act, she was forced to resign from the Utah Republican Hispanic Assembly. She knew that opposing Sen. Hatch would be damaging to her political and professional career but went ahead on principle.
Her advocacy for marginalized communities certainly isn’t limited to Hispanics. After a recent incident with a Bosnian Muslim refugee involved in a shooting, she bravely spoke out on behalf of the Bosnian refugee. Many insults were being hurled at the Bosnian Muslim community and she was one of the few leaders who spoke out on their behalf.
Since her nomination Packard has become northwest director of the national Latino grassroots group, Somos Republicans and the first Utah state director for the League of United Latin American Citizens.
She is dedicated to growing more leaders to work on behalf of the immigrant community. The Utah LULAC Youth group has been deeply inspired by her. She has mobilized youth and others to become more involved on the civic process, register to vote, contact legislators and advocate for their communities.
While Packard has become deeply unpopular in many conservative circles for her stand on immigration and her insistence that it’s not the state’s job to circumvent the federal government on immigration enforcement, she still hopes her status as a conservative, an LDS Church member, and a businesswoman will help bridge those differences with her fellow Utahans.
Read more in Antonella’s OpEd from the Salt Lake Tribune “A pro-immigrant LDS conservative”
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