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Utah AG to Be Appointed to Federal Asian-American & Pacific Islander Commission

January 18, 2019

President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to appoint Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian-American and Pacific Islanders on Thursday.

The commission works to advise the President on issues that face the Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community, such as economic growth, education, health and housing. The commission also facilitates access to and participation in federal programs to AAPIs to improve the quality of life for the community.

In 2017, President Trump recognized the tremendous growth and needs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in America and issued Executive Order 13811 to re-establish the commission. Attorney General Reyes is among 12 other people named to join the commission.

Read more:

Deseret News: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900051235/utah-ag-seans-reyes-named-to-federal-asian-american-pacific-islander-commission.html

KSL News: https://www.ksl.com/article/46470802/utah-ag-seans-reyes-named-to-federal-asian-american-pacific-islander-commission

Utah AG Joins Bipartisan Coalition in Defending Law that Protects Native American Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2019

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES JOINS BIPARTISAN COALITION OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL IN BRIEF DEFENDING LAW THAT PROTECTS NATIVE AMERICAN CHILDREN

SALT LAKE CITY – On Monday, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 21 states in filing an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in Brakeen v. Zinke. ICWA is a 40-year-old federal law that furthers the best interests of Native American children and protects the sovereignty of Indian tribes by preserving children’s connections to their tribal heritage.
 
“The future of our Native American nations relies upon their youth learning and integrating the proud history, traditions and culture of their people within our broader society. ICWA accomplishes this while still providing needed protections to indigenous children,” said Attorney General Reyes. “I’m pleased to work in a bipartisan effort with sister states to defend this law. ICWA works in Utah. The State supports it and our First Nation friends support it. ICWA properly balances the safety and needs of children along with tribal and societal interests.”  
 
First enacted in 1978, ICWA was a response to a history of culturally insensitive and ignorant removal of Indian children from their birth families.i This resulted in the separation of Indian children from not only their families, but their tribes and heritage as well. ICWA’s purpose is to “protect the best interests of Indian children and promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards” to be utilized in child welfare proceedings involving Native American children.ii 

Attorney General Reyes continued, “It’s imperative Native American youth stay with their families and tribes whenever possible. There is tremendous cultural importance in this for the children and the nations. As one with heritage from a Native people, I am sensitive to this issue. The Native Hawaiian language was almost lost forever, until it was once again taught to our children in schools and at home.”
 
In this case, individual plaintiffs, along with the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana, sued the U.S. Department of the Interior and its now-former Secretary Ryan Zinke to challenge the law. In October 2018, the district court for the Northern District of Texas agreed and struck down much of ICWA on constitutional grounds. The brief filed today by Attorney General Reyes and 21 other Attorneys General argues that ICWA is an appropriate exercise of Congress’s broad authority to legislate in the field of Indian affairs and does not violate the Tenth Amendment or equal protection principles. The brief also highlights ICWA’s important role in reducing disparities in child removal rates and improving the collaboration between states and tribes relating to their shared interest in improving the health and welfare of Native American children.iii
 
Attorney General Reyes joined the Attorneys General of California, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin in filing the brief. 

# # #

 
 
i. About ICWA » NICWA. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.nicwa.org/about-icwa/
ii. Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bia.gov/bia/ois/dhs/icwa
iii. A copy of the brief can be found here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Brackeen-Amicus.pdf

Photo Credit: Romel Jacinto


For-Profit College Settlement Cancels $500M in Student Debt

The State of Utah Department of Commerce released the following after Utah and 48 Attorneys General signed a multi-state case with Career Corporation, a for-profit education company, who agreed to stop collecting student loans, bringing $493.7 million in debt relief to CEC students across the U.S.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2019

Career Education Corporation, a for-profit company, agrees to stop collecting student loans in agreement with Utah, 48 Attorneys General

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Francine A. Giani, Executive Director of the Department of Commerce, announced today that the Utah Division of Consumer Protection will receive settlement funds for students as the result of a 493.7M nationwide lawsuit against Career Education Corporation (CEC), a for-profit education company. In the court filing, CEC agreed to reform its recruiting and enrollment practices and forgo collecting about $493.7 million in debts owed by 179,529 students nationally, in a settlement with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection filed through the Utah Attorney General and 48 other attorneys general.

“This case is a triumphant win for CEC students whose for-profit school failed to deliver on empty promises. Often these institutions prey on a vulnerable population, working parents and students who are looking find careers outside traditional college degrees. Utah hopes this case sends a message to the industry that our attorneys will actively pursue cases to defend student’s consumer rights,” stated Francine A. Giani.

The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed January 3, 2019 caps a five-year investigation. CEC agrees to forgo any and all efforts to collect amounts owed by former students living in the states participating in the agreement. In Utah, 399 students will get relief totaling $980,547.39. Nationally, the average individual debt relief will be about $2,750. CEC has also agreed to pay $5 million to the states. Utah’s share will be $50,000 which will go to the Consumer Protection Education and Training Fund.

CEC is based in Schaumburg, Ill., and currently offers primarily online courses through American InterContinental University and Colorado Technical University.

CEC has closed or phased out many of its schools over the past 10 years. Its brands have included Briarcliffe College, Brooks Institute, Brown College, Harrington College of Design, International Academy of Design & Technology, Le Cordon Bleu, Missouri College, and Sanford-Brown.

A group of attorneys general launched an investigation into CEC in January 2014 after receiving several complaints from students and a critical report on for-profit education by the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. That investigation revealed evidence demonstrating that:

  • CEC used emotionally charged language to pressure them into enrolling in CEC’s schools;
  • CEC deceived students about the total costs of enrollment by instructing its admissions representatives to inform prospective students only about the cost per credit hour without disclosing the total number of required credit hours;
  • CEC misled students about the transferability of credits into CEC from other institutions and out of CEC to other institutions by promising on some occasions that credits would transfer;
  • CEC misrepresented the potential for students to obtain employment in the field by failing to adequately disclose the fact that certain programs lacked the necessary programmatic accreditation; and,
  • CEC deceived prospective students about the rate that graduates of CEC programs got a job in their field of study, thereby giving prospective students a distorted and inaccurate impression of CEC graduates’ employment outcomes. For instance, CEC inaccurately claimed that its graduates were “placed” who worked only temporarily or who were working in unrelated jobs.

As a result of the unfair and deceptive practices described above, students enrolled in CEC who would not have otherwise enrolled, could not obtain professional licensure, and were saddled with substantial debts that they could not repay nor discharge. CEC denied the allegations of the attorneys general but agreed to resolve the claims through this multistate settlement.

Robert McKenna, former Washington state attorney general and current partner at the San Francisco-based law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, will independently monitor the company’s settlement compliance for three years and issue annual reports.

Highlights of the agreement

Under the agreement, CEC must:

  • Make no misrepresentations concerning accreditation, selectivity, graduation rates, placement rates, transferability of credit, financial aid, veterans’ benefits, or licensure requirements.
  • Not enroll students in programs that do not lead to state licensure when required for employment, or that due to their lack of accreditation, will not prepare graduates for jobs in their field. For certain programs that will prepare graduates for some but not all jobs, CEC will be required to disclose such to incoming students.
  • Provide a single-page disclosure to each student that includes: a) anticipated total direct cost; b) median debt for completers; c) programmatic cohort default rate; d) program completion rate; e) notice concerning transferability of credits; f) median earnings for completers; and g) the job placement rated.
  • Require students before enrolling to complete an Electronic Financial Impact Platform Disclosure, which provides specific information about debt burden and expected post-graduation income. CEC is working with the states to develop this platform.
  • Not engage in deceptive or abusive recruiting practices and record online chats and telephone calls with prospective students. CEC shall analyze these recordings to ensure compliance. CEC shall not contact students who indicate that they no longer wish to be contacted.
  • Require incoming undergraduate students with fewer than 24 credits to complete an orientation program before their first class that covers study skills, organization, literacy, financial skills, and computer competency. During the orientation period, students may withdraw at no cost.
  • Establish a risk-free trial period. All undergraduates who enter an online CEC program with fewer than 24 online credits shall be permitted to withdraw within 21 days of the beginning of the term without incurring any cost. All undergraduates who enter an on-ground CEC program shall be permitted to withdraw within seven days of the first day of class without incurring any cost.

Relief Eligibility

CEC has agreed to forgo collection of debts owed by students who either attended a CEC institution that closed before Jan. 1, 2019, or whose final day of attendance at AIU or CTU occurred on or before Dec. 31, 2013.

Former students with debt relief eligibility questions can contact CEC here; Toll Free Number: 844-783-8629

Local Number: 847-783-8629

The email is CECquestions@careered.com

The CEC investigation was led by Iowa, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. The agreement also covers the District of Columbia and  the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

January is National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month

1/9/2019

Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, in an effort to educate and protect the citizens of Utah, issued the following statement recognizing National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

“Having seen the brutal effects of human trafficking  in a very close and personal way, I can attest that it robs victims of innocence, dignity, and hope. It is a horrific violation of human rights and a crime of terror. Every Utahn – every American – must understand that human trafficking can be found in any community — rural or urban, wealthy or modest, religious or secular. It does not discriminate in its victimization of people of all backgrounds.

“The eradication of human trafficking should be a priority for all who value justice, virtue and freedom. The fight to end human trafficking transcends political and ideological differences. It is not a Democrat or Republican issue but a humanitarian one. As such, it is critical for Utah and all states to work even more closely with law enforcement, first responders, and the communities who come in contact with human trafficking victims to combat modern-day slavery.

“We are grateful for our partnerships here at home, across the nation, and abroad that educate the public, liberate the captives, and provide healing for survivors. Utah has made great strides in recent years and is a recognized worldwide leader in the fight. But it’s still not enough. I invite all Utahns to get involved. Know the signs and learn how to report. Good people will not rest until human trafficking is eradicated from every community in Utah and around the world.”

Stay tuned over the next few weeks. The Utah Attorney General’s Office will publish a short series of human trafficking articles – how to recognize trafficking, how to report, and detailing elements of this $150 billion worldwide industry. Thank you for paying attention.

Happy New Year from Utah AG

The start of a new year is always a hopeful time, as we give thanks for the end of one year and celebrate the beginning of another. May better and brighter days lay ahead and may you have the courage and determination to rise up and meet whatever comes your way.

On behalf of Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and the Office of the Utah Attorney General – Happy New Year!

 

 

Happy Holidays from Attorney General Reyes

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes shares his well-wishes for a Happy holiday with the following: 

“Mele Kalikimaka! To all our friends & family, we send our love and warmest Aloha. Whatever you may be celebrating this season, may the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ bring peace and light to bless you and your loved ones.” 

On behalf of Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and the Office of the Utah Attorney General – Happy holidays!

 

 

AG Reyes applauds passing of First Step Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 18, 2018

 

AG REYES APPLAUDS SENATE PASSING THE FIRST STEP ACT

SALT LAKE CITY – As the vote count was announced that the First Step Act had passed through the U.S. Senate and was headed to the U.S. House of Representatives, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes stated the following: 

This is a big win for the Trump Administration, for justice reform leaders like our own Senator Mike Lee, and most importantly, for the American people. 
 
Allowing more discretion in sentencing empowers judges and the system to personalize the punishment to the crime. Giving inmates who meet strict criteria a chance at redemption and an opportunity to become productive citizens benefits all of us. Not only does it reduce an overcrowded prison population, it provides a workforce eager to contribute to society. 
 
I’ve been honored to work over the past year with the White House, Senator Lee and other leaders to get this bill passed. As a former co-chair of the Civil Rights Committee for the National Association of Attorneys General, and in various positions over a decade before that, I have advocated for reform to our criminal justice system; a system that disproportionately affects minority communities and inflexibly captures certain individuals who may not deserve to be there in the first place. 
 
Again, I applaud the U.S. Senate’s approval of the historic ’First Step Act.’ But this legislation is just that – a first step. I will continue my work with Utah leaders and attorneys general from other states to expand reform beyond just the federal system in order to reduce recidivism, save taxpayer dollars, provide treatment for mental health and substance abuse and providing some nonviolent offenders a second chance. We can find these humane and balanced solutions while still aggressively protecting Utahns from violent crime and keeping our communities safe. 
 
The bi-partisan political support for this bill along with diverse buy-in from groups such as law enforcement, civil rights leaders and academics speaks to the need for such reform. 
 
 

Photo by Hédi Benyounes

Another Look at the SafeUT App

December 13, 2018

The need for mental health services on college campuses is growing. More and more students are seeking assistance for issues like depression or anxiety and Utah college administrators are taking notice. As they work to meet the increasing demands, one option they are pointing students towards for help is the SafeUT App. Read all about how colleges in the state are working to help students below. 

 Deseret News: Utah colleges want students to know it’s OK for me to say ‘I need help’

The SafeUT App is effective at providing students with real-time, practical help in the form of crisis counseling, suicide prevention, or referral services. Additionally, students can submit confidential tips to school administrators on threats, violence, or bullying.

The SafeUT program was developed with funding from the Utah State Legislature in collaboration with the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Utah State Office of Education, Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition, and the University Neuropsychiatric Institute

_____________________________________

Take a look at some of the history and success of the SafeUT App from the last year.

KSL5TV: AG Reyes Talks About SafeUT App with KSL

*Florida reference to Parkland, FL shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool

KSL-TV: Safe Schools: SafeUT app uniquely managed by social workers, mental health professionals

Deseret News: SafeUT app making inroads despite 36 youth suicides so far in 2017

Deseret News: University of Utah shouldering growing costs of SafeUT app as use proliferates

Attorneygeneral.utah.gov: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/safeut-app-downloaded-over-5000-times/

Attorneygeneral.utah.gov: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/safeutfeatures/

Utah AG Reyes Works to Combat Robocalls

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2018

  

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES WORKS TO COMBAT ROBOCALLS
Utah AG joins 40 state attorneys general to review technology solutions

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced today that he has joined a bipartisan group of 40 state attorneys general to stop or reduce annoying and harmful robocalls. This coalition is reviewing the technology major telecom companies are pursuing to combat illegal robocalls.

“To be clear, we are not talking about first amendment protected robocalls like political messages or calls from bona fide charities. While some find these calls annoying, they are legal,” stated Attorney General Reyes. “However, if the recording is a sales pitch and you have not provided authorization, the call is illegal. To trick you into answering a call, many robocalls fake the caller ID information you see on your phone. This is called spoofing and is also illegal. It is these practices and types of robocalls we are focused on stopping. Over 187 million illegal robocalls were made to Utahns in 2017 alone. These calls often harm our most vulnerable populations with scams and improper business practices. It is my hope and belief that this bipartisan group will be able to find real solutions to help protect not just Utahns, but all Americans. I am grateful for Francine Giani, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Commerce, and her team, for their dedicated efforts to address these abuses in our state.”

The Utah Department of Commerce consistently receives reports of robocalls to Utahns. The Department investigates complaints and has in some instances successfully taken legal action against callers pitching student loan debt consolidation, vacation packages, solar energy, and timeshare resales, among other areas. While the Department takes action when it can identify the caller, many robocalls originate overseas or use spoofed numbers to evade enforcement.  

“Consumers are bombarded by robocalls faking local numbers and originating overseas,” stated Utah Department of Commerce Executive Director Francine Giani. “When consumers are scammed through these calls, it is very difficult if not impossible for the Department of Commerce to find the perpetrator and get the consumers’ money back. We support the Attorneys General and other efforts to combat robocalls before they make it to consumers’ phones.”

Since its formation, the multistate group has had in-depth meetings with several major telecom companies. These productive meetings have led to greater information sharing about the technological capabilities currently in existence or in development to fight these calls.

Utah Attorney General Reyes and his colleagues are working to:

  • Develop a detailed understanding of what is technologically feasible to minimize unwanted robocalls and illegal telemarketing,
  • Engage the major telecom companies to encourage them to expedite the best possible solutions for consumers, and
  • Determine whether states should make further recommendations to the FCC.

Utah joins the coalition, led by Attorney General Josh Stein (NC), Attorney General Curtis Hill (IN), and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald (NH), and includes attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

# # #

 
 NOTES:

  1. AG Reyes recently joined 34 other state AGs and sent a letter urging the FCC to explore ways to combat fraudulent calls. Deputy Attorney General David Sonnenreich spoke with KSL-TV about that letter, robocalls, spoofing, and a new technology seeking to address this issue. You can find that letter and interview here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/battling-illegal-robocalls-spoofing/.
  2. The Utah Department of Commerce provides resources when dealing with illegal robocalls and telemarketing. Find more information on that here: https://dcp.utah.gov/registrations/telemarketing.html.

AG Recognizes Human Rights Week

December 10, 2018

The Utah Attorney General’s Office takes a moment to recognize Human Rights Day and Human Rights Week, Monday, December 10th through Friday, December 14th. This year is the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, implemented by the United Nations General Assembly.

The Declaration document was a milestone achievement declaring to the world that regardless of skin color, race, beliefs, gender, language, national origin, wealth, or birth status, every person is inherently entitled to certain inalienable rights as a human being. It establishes that each person deserves to be treated with dignity and equality as well as sets a common standard for all leaders around the world to strive to achieve.

We recognize that we have not yet realized the fullness of this declaration, but we are grateful for those we partner with daily to fight for the rights of those around us as well as our own. The theme for this year’s Human Rights Week is “human rights start with you”. It takes each one of us to ensure that every person is treated with respect and kindness. We need to remember that everything we need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and to stand for the principles of equality, justice, and liberty is already inside of us. 

This Declaration not only protects each one of us, but it alsot brings us one step closer in unifying men and women of every background around the world together.

The President of the United States released a proclamation on Human Rights Day and included the Bill of Rights Day and Human Rights Week which you can read here

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