Here’s where migrants, asylum seekers go in Utah


Data collected from immigration courts gives an idea of where migrants live in Utah — and where they come from.

(Eric Gay | AP) Migrants wait to be processed by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after they crossed the Rio Grande and entered the U.S. from Mexico, on Oct. 19, 2023. Based on court data, Utah has seen a spike in migrant arrivals in recent years.

Utah hasn’t faced the same effects from booms in migrant population as New York, Illinois and Colorado, but there has been a significant increase in the Beehive State.

The number of migrants listing a Utah address for their immigration court cases increased more than sixfold from 2021 to 2023, based on data available through the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Until 2006, there were fewer than 1,000 new immigration cases filed across Utah. The number hasn’t dipped below that since, and jumped past 3,000 cases in 2019 before spiking to nearly 11,000 cases in 2022 and almost 20,000 in 2023.

That was a 548% spike from 2021 to 2023 and an 81.9% jump from 2022 to 2023.

Case numbers are based on the federal fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 and ends in the named year. As of January, there had been 10,470 new immigration cases filed in Utah in fiscal year 2024.

The data isn’t perfect, because it relies on addresses migrants provide to federal officials managing their immigration court cases. But analysts say case information provides a general idea of how newcomers are distributed around the country.

Aden Batar, the director of migration and refugee services for Catholic Community Services of Utah, said they saw increased demand that matches the timing of spikes in court case filings.

Catholic Community Services works with people in need, including refugees and people seeking asylum. The organization has programs related to refugee foster care, refugee resettlement and immigration legal services.

Most of the spike has been in Salt Lake County, which accounts for 67% of all immigration cases. In FY 2023, there were 12,739 new immigration cases in Salt Lake County. The remaining 7,143 were mostly in Davis and Utah counties.

That’s about 1 per 100 residents of Salt Lake County, higher than many other comparable counties in the west, including Maricopa County, Arizona, and Clark County, Nevada (home to Phoenix and Las Vegas, respectively.)

Across Utah, there were about 0.6 new cases per 100 people in 2023, and the rate in Utah’s 29 counties varied from zero in Daggett, Emery and Morgan counties to 1.46 in Millard County.

Utah hasn’t faced the same crisis as New York, Illinois and Colorado — but it also isn’t among the states where Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has bused thousands of migrants since 2022.

But there are still families facing chaos and confusion, including a Venezuelan family of nine that arrived in Utah in February.

That family likely isn’t alone, as much of the spike across the state — especially in Salt Lake County — has come from immigrants of Venezuelan nationality.

There aren’t signs the surging numbers will stop soon.

People are still arriving in Utah, Batar said, and Catholic Community Services is currently working with more than 500 asylum seekers.

“Almost every week, we have asylum seekers coming to our agency seeking services,” Batar said.

Megan Banta is The Salt Lake Tribune’s data enterprise reporter, a philanthropically supported position. The Tribune retains control over all editorial decisions.



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