Last week a Mormon missionary had completed his two-year mission and went to return home on a flight from Cincinnati. He was arrested for lacking the necesssary documentation to board his flight. You can read about this here, including comments from Elder Holland of the Church’s Missionary Committee.
Apparently the Church used to have a policy that undocumented immigrants had to return to their countries of origin and serve from there. But a 2005 law absolved religious organizations of criminal liability for knowingly allowing undocumented immigrants to provide volunteer service, including missionary work. So the Church allows undocumented immigrants to serve missions from their U.S. homes.
Such missionaries are always called to domestic missions only, and so far that has worked. But this arrest now raises the stakes and complexity of such service. The article talks about another undocumented missionary who, after the arrest, decided not to risk trying to fly home. His uncle is going to come pick him up by car and they will drive.
This was kind of fascinating to me. I had never really focused on the problems and issues facing undocumented immigrants who wish to serve missions yet remain in the U.S.
I do not pretend to be knowledgeable about immigration issues. I realize they are complex, and that there are strongly held views all across the spectrum. But I do very much like how the Church, widely perceived as a very conservative organization, has struck a note of love and concern for undocumented families, not turning them away but accepting them as brothers and sisters in the gospel.
The complexities of expressing that love, support and concern in the missionary context just got a lot more challenging, however. What advice do you have for how the Church ought to negotiate this sensitive type of situation?