Morgan residents hear President Obama regularly; however, it is not common that President Obama hears Morgan residents. On May 13, President Obama not only met with a Morgan resident, but also spent time learning from a small group of law enforcement representatives including local man Keith Squires.
Obama addressed the group gathered to discuss immigration and spent about 40 minutes with them. Squires explained that very few issues receive this considerable amount of time from the busy leader of our country.
“But I just want all of you to know your voices, particularly over the next couple of months, are going to be critical,” President Obama proclaimed to the elite group.
“So I just want to say thank you, to all of you. And while I’m here, I want to thank you for a wide range of issues that we’ve had a chance to cooperate with you on. Whether it’s dealing with counterterrorism issues and the preparations that ensure that if and when an event happens that we’re prepared, and more importantly, that we’re able to prevent such activities from taking place in the first place, or dealing with natural disasters where our first responders are always right there on the scene. Day in and day out your teams, your personnel are doing heroic work on behalf of America. And we’re very, very grateful for that.”
After President Obama spoke to the group, he met briefly one on one with the participants. Squires not only shook the hand of one of the most powerful people in the world, but he also was able to talk to him about the work they were doing.
Through his positions, Squires has met numerous other people of high levels. He has found many of them act busy and don’t take the time to be engaged or interested in the meeting. Squires felt Obama was genuinely interested in what he had to say. The busy leader asked questions of Squires and maintained eye contact and focus throughout the conversation, unlike others who will offer a hurried handshake. The men were mutually thankful, the president for Squires sharing his vast experience and knowledge, and Squires for the president taking the time to hear concerns and take advice.
Other notable representatives gathered included Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Associate Attorney General Tony West. Rounding out the group, 30 representatives from around the United States in the field of law enforcement joined the assembly. Squires represented the state of Utah as commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety, as well as in his capacity as Governor Herbert’s Homeland Security advisor. Squires was the only representative at the state level. The other participants were chiefs and sheriffs from around the country.
Squires felt it was a good group to be able to provide information about what is going on in communities throughout the country. The non-partisan assembly did not bicker like we have become accustomed to in Washington DC. Instead the group felt unified as they work for a common goal of protecting communities and citizens across the United Sates.
“I think it was a pretty open and candid dialog,” Squires said of the opportunity to share ideas.
The need for stronger border security was discussed during the meeting. President Obama said, “…we have put unprecedented resources at the borders, and you’ve seen the results. We have fewer folks coming in than ever before. And the personnel that are arrayed along our borders are well beyond anything that we saw five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. So we take border enforcement seriously.”
Additionally the meeting focused on how to document illegal immigrants, a topic Squires has worked on and been a leader for a very long time. Seven years ago Squires helped the Utah implement Drivers Privilege Cards, which allowed illegal immigrants to obtain driving privileges by acquiring insurance and passing a driving test.
While it was controversial, Squires felt that it would promote safety and security for residents. By giving illegal immigrants a Drivers Privilege Card, the state made it possible for them to receive automobile insurance that otherwise would not be available to them. Law enforcing officers determined that illegal immigrants were operating automobiles anyway, but by giving them the card, more would take the opportunity to drive with insurance and with skills and knowledge of our laws of the road.
Another important key to the Drivers Privilege Cards was part of the dialog at the meeting in Washington DC. Illegal documentation is important to law enforcement. “It helps law enforcement to know who they are dealing with,” Squires explained. Utah was the first to implement such a program, but other states have followed suit.
While this was the first time Squires met President Obama, he has served in a variety of high status committees and groups to improve public safety. Squires has capably worked with the White House for the past seven years with different issues of homeland and national security. Last year Squires visited the White House to work with a group of 15 law enforcement officials to discuss immigration. For the past four or five years, Squires has been part of a 10-person team that meets twice a year to work with the director of national intelligence. He has also been involved in other prestigious groups that share his passion for public safety.
Utah is continually recognized as one of the safest states in the country. Squires was happy to have Utah looked at with interest as a leader in law enforcement. “There is an interest in how we do things,” Squires said. He said that Utah is looked to for best practices in improving immigration enforcement and maintaining and improving life.