ICYMI | Deseret News Op-Ed: Three-digit suicide lifeline is a huge victory for Utah by Sean Reyes

With the American public focused on myriad issues in the media, Congress quietly passed a bill this week that is a game-changer in preventing death by suicide and supporting those contemplating it.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for teens in Utah. It has increased exponentially over the past 20 years. And across all age demographics, Utah has some of the highest per capita suicide losses in the nation.

For full Op-Ed, click here

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Sean Reyes Praises Judge Kavanaugh, Urges Quick SCOTUS Confirmation

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes made the following statement after President Trump's announcement of his Supreme Court of the United States nomination.

"I applaud President Trump for nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Kavanaugh’s experience and jurisprudence on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia demonstrates he has the most important quality a judicial nominee can possess—the ability to decide cases as an impartial judge based on the U.S. Constitution and laws passed by Congress, and not as a would-be legislator, based on laws as the judge may wish them to be.

"President Trump deserves credit for continuing his commitment to nominate originalist and textualist jurists like Justice Neal Gorsuch and Judge Brett Kavanaugh who respect the Constitution and the Rule of Law. Judge Kavanaugh brings with him many of the best aspects of Justice Kennedy’s legacy in addition to his own unique lens to the Court.
 
"Those who have worked with Judge Kavanaugh on both sides of the aisle praise his intellect, approach and character on the bench. He will be a fine addition to the High Court. I urge the Senate to quickly confirm Judge Kavanaugh so that the Court can continue its important work with a full complement of Justices when it returns to the bench this fall."

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AG Reyes kicks off an event for the expansion of eight new drug disposal kiosks

Attorney General Sean Reyes along with other state leaders kicked off an event for the expansion of eight new drug disposal kiosks. Walgreens is placing the new kiosks around Utah. There has already been several placed including one at the Bountiful location right off 515 South and 500 West. Each kiosk will be place inside right next to the pharmacy and are open for public use.

To watch the KUTV story, click here. 

 

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UTAH AG ISSUES STATEMENT ON PRESIDENT’S EXECUTIVE ORDER ON IMMIGRATION

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes calls on Congress to act quickly to close loopholes.

This afternoon, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement in support of the President’s Executive Order Affording Congress An Opportunity to Address Family Separation:

“I applaud President Trump’s executive order stopping family separations at the border to allow Congress time to address the problem. No one wants to see children separated from their parents. It has been obvious for decades and under multiple administrations that our immigration system is flawed. Congress needs to close these loopholes immediately.

“I was born into a family with an immigrant father. I understand the immigration quandary from both a personal and legal perspective. My father stood up to a dictatorial regime and risked his life to escape his country, but ultimately achieved his U.S. citizenship legally. As the immigration debate continues and laws hopefully evolve, we must remember all of the true victims of today’s broken system and the consequences if Congress fails to fix the current U.S. immigration code.

“The current loopholes in today’s U.S. immigration laws not only hurt families, but also help fuel the human trafficking scourge. Again, I call on Congress to close the loopholes and get immigration right.”

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Utah AG Reveals Benefits of SafeUT App at Federal School Safety Standards Roundtable Hosted by U.S. Senators Rubio and Nelson

Education Week, April 18, 2018 (blogs.edweek.org)

A school safety forum on Capitol Hill hosted by Florida's U.S. senators focused on how to help students head off threats from their peers, and on improving security measures for schools, among other topics.  

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, also used the event here on Wednesday to tout their support for having the federal government offer states incentives to adopt "red flag" laws that prevent those who represent a threat to themselves or others from accessing or purchasing firearms, while preserving legal protetions for those individuals. Rubio and Nelson introduced a bill to this effect, the Extreme Risk Protection Order and Violence Prevention Act, last month, after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. 

Advocates and public officials also emphasized the importance of communication at various stages to help address school violence, from making it easier for students to share their concerns with adults, to helping law enforcement respond to violent incidents more quickly.

For full story, click here.

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AG Reyes Statement on President Trump's Modification of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement on President Donald J. Trump's modification today of Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. 

"Today, with the designation of five new monument units, President Trump has taken a historic step to correct the hubris of past administrations. The new designations are much closer in scope to the "smallest areas compatible with proper care and management" of protected objects, as required by the Antiquities Act. These corrections were made after extensive input from local citizens and interests, including tribal members, conservationists, ranchers, hunters, business owners and elected representatives. President Trump and Secretary Zinke have found a balance that considers the needs of our local communities and still protects the singular, stunning, and sacred lands of our state for future generations.

"Over the history of the Antiquities Act, national monuments have been reviewed and modified by subsequent presidents. It is no surprise, given the disproportionate original designations, that President Trump would reduce these monuments to be more consistent with the intent of the Antiquities Act. Such remedial measures would not be necessary if Congress would clarify the limits of initial monument designations. I echo the statement of Secretary Zinke that executive power under the Act is no substitute for congressional action. We are hopeful that our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. will pass legislation that makes political games with Utah’s public lands less likely in the future.

"The Utah Attorney General’s Office will continue to monitor the process with interest and will continue to protect Utah, its people, and its lands, from federal overreach."
 

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Utah AG Extends Deepest Sympathies to Victims' Families of Las Vegas Shooting

"Our deepest sympathies extend to the families of those who lost their lives and our prayers lift toward heaven on behalf of those recovering or whose lives hang in the balance. In addition to the many civilian lives tragically taken, we mourn the deaths of military veterans and law enforcement personnel killed during and in response to the shooting. The thin blue line of law enforcement is painfully even thinner today.

"As has been the case with other mass shootings that have occurred worldwide in the recent past, perhaps out of the horror and shock of such senseless violence, we can unite in love and unity as a nation and as a global community to demonstrate support for those suffering and to condemn all such acts of unmitigated evil.

"Shortly after the news of the shooting broke on Sunday, I reached out to Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt to offer my concern and condolences and any help they may need. He expressed his appreciation to the State for its concern."

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AG Reyes Recognizes World Suicide Prevention Day

Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following extended statement marking World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th, 2017:
 
"I appreciate the efforts of the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) and all of its partners to educate the world on what is a global health threat. I join many other voices worldwide in support of raising awareness and resources to prevent a growing number of suicides. In the U.S., suicide is the tenth leading cause of death and a recent CDC study showed an increased suicide rate every year from 1999 to 2014 among both women and men and in every age group except those 75 and older. The rates of suicide for teens and Military Veterans are particularly alarming. Sadly, Utah is no exception.
 
"For the last three and a half years, the Office of the Utah Attorney General has led an effort to respond to increased teen suicide, the leading cause of death of Utah children, ages 10-17. We have teamed with legislators, state agencies, mental health clinicians, suicide prevention advocates, the faith community, educators, law enforcement, parents, and teens themselves to address the tragic reality that far too many of our youth feel there is no hope and life is not worth living.
 
“As we have traveled the state over the last several years, visiting with teens in groups or individually, so many of them have expressed feelings of being alone, judged, or without hope. While adolescence is or was a difficult transition time for nearly all of us, the isolation of today's youth seems more prevalent and more deeply felt. Other factors like depression, being victims of bullying and abuse, eating disorders, drug use and addictions of various kinds, as well as other behavioral health and safety challenges can increase the risk of suicide among teens. 
 
“Because Utah has one of the highest rates of teen suicide in the nation, my office has been leading the School Safety and Crisis Line Commission which last year unveiled the new SafeUT app. It is currently introduced in schools throughout Utah. Those teens in crisis can now access live trained professionals at any time the way they are used to communicating: through a free app on their smart phones available across Android, Apple or other platforms. With the SafeUT app our kids are never alone. 
 
"We have also worked closely with legislators to create a three digit number similar to 911 in Utah for immediate response to mental health and behavioral crises, including thoughts of or attempts at suicide. This statewide effort has led to discussions and proposed legislation at a national level for a similar 911-type number.  
 
"Like teens, the number of Military Veterans losing their lives from suicide across our nation is staggering. Daily, those losses number twenty or more. Utah has lost its fair share of Veterans who were willing to give their lives for their country and instead lost them battling personal demons and enemies seen and unseen that were often related to their service. 
 
“We can all play a part in reversing Utah's devastating trend of teen and Veteran suicide by having real conversations with friends, family, and neighbors. These may be difficult and uncomfortable discussions but the alternative--not communicating--rarely if ever leads to positive outcomes. I challenge all Utahns to engage daily in a positive way with teens and Veterans. Say hello. Recognize them. Smile. Be a mentor or friend. Find ways to connect and to serve them. While this is not a panacea or cure-all, it can go a long way to lifting someone out of darkness and despair. Truly, one of act of kindness can be the difference between life and death.”
 
 
 
Key Features of SafeUT
The SafeUT program and app help youth stay healthy and safe in schools by providing high-quality, confidential counseling services. The app’s key features include:

  • Anonymous, confidential, and password protected services
  • Real-time, two-way communication with SafeUT crisis counselors available 24/7
  • Tips can be submitted with picture and/or video
  • Mobile app works with Apple & Android devices

 
SafeUT’s Crisis Services
Safe UT answers crisis calls, texts, and chats – about yourself or someone else – 24/7. These services are anonymous and confidential. Our counseling topics include:

  • Suicide
  • Self-harm
  • Emotional crisis
  • Grief and loss
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Mental health
  • Abuse
  • Impact of domestic violence


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Deseret News: New U.S. citizens encouraged by Utah AG to infuse culture with American experience

SALT LAKE CITY — Victor Avalos waited 15 years to become a U.S. citizen.

“The immigration process is so long," the 43-year-old from Mexico said.

Avalos came to the United States in 2002 on a tourist visa to attend college and "have a better life," with "better opportunity" for himself and his future wife and children.

Financial problems and complications in the immigration process prevented Avalos from completing his degree, he said. But that didn't stop him from achieving his goal of providing a better life for his family.

After 15 years of working toward it, Avalos was declared a U.S. citizen by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Wednesday during a naturalization ceremony at the Utah Capitol.

"We are very grateful that this day has finally come," said Avalos' wife, Kelly Avalos.

Despite the setbacks, Victor and Kelly Avalos now live in Woods Cross with their two children: Nathan, 14, and Isabelle, 11. Victor Avalos also holds a leadership position with Delta Air Lines.

It's those kinds of opportunities, Avalos said, that led him to leave Mexico for the U.S. in 2002.

“When you work really hard for whatever you’re looking for, you can achieve,” he said.

Joined by 124 other new citizens from 38 countries and six continents, Avalos took the oath of allegiance and received a citizenship certificate at the Capitol ceremony.

Daniel Souza, 36, of Brazil, has lived in the United States for 19 years, obtaining various visas to attend BYU and serve a mission in Houston, Texas, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he said.

After completing his mission, Souza earned a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism at BYU and then worked for the LDS Church-owned university. BYU also sponsored his visa and helped him obtain citizenship, he said.

Souza said his favorite thing about the U.S. is the ability to practice the freedoms of religion and expression.

"The rule of law is widely upheld in the United States, and it's welcomed,” he said.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, the first minority to hold that office, encouraged the new citizens to embrace their various cultures and "infuse them into the American experience."

"Find a way to teach people about the truths and the beauties that you bring,” Reyes said. "That is what has made America great throughout history, and that is what will continue to make America great."

He also encouraged the group to serve others around them as they "live the American Dream."

“You represent the present and the future of this great country, and one day I hope some of you will serve in appointed and elected office,” Reyes said. "Maybe your children will be the attorney general or the governor of Utah, or the president of the United States.”

Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, conducted the ceremony and spoke about its importance.

“I want to have the dignity and respect to show the people that have been through the naturalization process how important it really is,” Thurston said in an interview. "It’s a process that sometimes people don’t appreciate."

Event moderators also played a video message from Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, who congratulated the new citizens.

To read story at Deseret News and view images, click here.  
 
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Tom Ridge: It is too easy to ship deadly drugs in the mail

As a former governor and the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, my number one priority will always be the safety and security of our nation, so it is with alarm that I have watched the rise of the opioid epidemic across the nation.

Six Utahns are being killed in this growing epidemic every week, and more people are dying nationwide from drug overdoses than from gun violence and car accidents – combined. And as this crisis has evolved, it's turned a little-known security loophole in the global postal system into a serious national security threat, one that has created a pipeline for these deadly opioids directly into our communities.

Every day, nearly one million packages arrive in the United States without critical security data that would assist law enforcement in screening and stopping dangerous packages, including harmful, synthetic drugs. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress took steps to improve the security of the postal system, passing legislation that required private couriers to provide advance digital information on packages from overseas. But while the private sector quickly implemented these new security protocols, the global postal system has yet to adapt – making it the favored avenue for bad actors abroad seeking to send dangerous, illegal packages into our country.

We are seeing this play out in the opioid epidemic. Powerful synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and carfentanil, are increasingly manufactured in foreign laboratories, purchased on the "dark web" from Chinese manufacturers and shipped through the global postal system. In fact, a February report by the U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission identified China as the primary source for illicit fentanyl in the United States.

This supply of deadly drugs from overseas is fueling the rapidly growing epidemic, and our communities are feeling the impact. In Utah, officials are undertaking admirable efforts to address this public health crisis, including the Utah Department of Health's new "Talk To Your Pharmacist" initiative and the formation of the state's new opioid task force, chaired by Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Drug Enforcement Agency District Agent in Charge Brian Besser. However, officials are facing an uphill battle trying to combat this epidemic even as our communities are flooded with new deadly, synthetic drugs every day. To truly address this epidemic, we need to do all we can to shut down the easy supply of these drugs.

To read entire Op Ed, click here.

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