A Few Thoughts on the LDS Church’s New Statement on Immigration

The LDS Church issued a new statement today regarding immigration policy in the United States. This is not a new topic, of course. However, the statement from the Newsroom this morning is a little bit different from past missives, I think. The full text of the statement can be found here, but here are a few of the main passages, along with my thoughts on them.

  • “As a matter of policy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discourages its members from entering any country without legal documentation, and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.”
  • Given past statements, and many of the responses made by individuals who would prefer more protection from undocumented workers, I think this is an important clause. Here at BCC, we have seen many individuals question the Church’s commitment to the rule of law in this policy arena. I think that questioning is misguided and wrong, and I see this particular clause as a needed clarification that the Church does not only NOT encourage illegal immigration, but actually discourages it. While I personally prefer completely open borders, I accept this stance as important for the Church and its diverse membership.

  • “The history of mass expulsion or mistreatment of individuals or families is cause for concern especially where race, culture, or religion are involved.  This should give pause to any policy that contemplates targeting any one group, particularly if that group comes mostly from one heritage.”
  • There is a tendency among the more politically liberal to see this as primarily a racial issue–that it’s all about keeping those from South of the border out, and that if the immigrants were all white, educated folk from Canada we wouldn’t have nearly the stress or anxiety that we see. Similarly, there is a tendency among the more politically conservative to deny that this is a racially-oriented policy debate, and insist that the problem exists because people, regardless of ethnicity or origin, are breaking a law. Certainly, exceptions from both groups exist, and I don’t want to pigeon-hole anyone or put words in anyone’s mouth. Regardless, this section of the Church’s statement clearly throws a bone in the direction of those who see racial underpinnings to certain pieces of legislation and policy suggestions.

  • “As those on all sides of the immigration debate in the United States have noted, this issue is one that must ultimately be resolved by the federal government. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God.”
  • This paragraph is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the clarity and specificity of it is just striking to me for a statement from the LDS Church. It explicitly rejects the states-rights mentality that is very prevalent among many LDS people. I tend to favor states-rights myself, and am surprised to see it so specifically denounced in this area. Fortunately for me, this happens to be one of the policies where I also reject the states-rights approach. Secondly (and relatedly), the rejection of a states-rights approach is interesting because it stands in contrast from the Church’s previous support of states-rights approaches to another hotly contested policy issue–that of marriage. There are certainly differences and similarities between these two policies, but it will be interesting to see if the appeal to a Federal law (and open rejection of a state-by-state approach) is something that will be seen more in the future.

  • “The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship.”
  • Like the previous paragraph, I find this statement to be interesting primarily because of the directness of it. There is no wiggle room here–there is no way to say that “This was only Bishop Burton’s personal view,” or that “They’re just saying we should treat people with kindness or respect.” This is a plainly-worded and indisputable statement that the LDS Church’s leadership wants a solution that allows people to stay in their jobs, stay in their homes, stay with their families, and stay in their communities, regardless of how they got there in the first place.

As an additional (and probably needed) afterthought, the Newsroom issued this new tidbit to provide additional clarification for Ward/Stake leaders concerning the calling of undocumented workers to serve in their congregations, as well as a piece of counsel for every member of the Church:

“The First Presidency has for many years taught that undocumented status should not by itself prevent an otherwise worthy Church member from entering the temple or being ordained to the priesthood. Bishops are in the best position to make appropriate judgments as to Church privileges. Meanwhile, Church members should avoid making judgments about fellow members in their congregations.”

Comments

  1. AWESOME!

  2. I thought this accompanying very brief statement was even awesomer than the longer policy piece:

    The First Presidency has for many years taught that undocumented status should not by itself prevent an otherwise worthy Church member from entering the temple or being ordained to the priesthood.

    Bishops are in the best position to make appropriate judgments as to Church privileges. Meanwhile, Church members should avoid making judgments about fellow members in their congregations.

    Word.

  3. Just as reminder to anyone struggling with this Newsroom statement, the Newsroom is an “official voice” of the LDS Church (whatever that means).

    http://newsroom.lds.org/article/the-church-and-new-media:-clarity,-context-and-an-official-voice-newsroom-lds.org-full-story

  4. “In addition, information on official Church Web sites is reliable and consistent with the doctrines and policies of the Church. All materials on Newsroom and other Church Web sites are carefully reviewed and approved before they are posted….In a complementary way, Newsroom, LDS.org and other Church Web sites provide an official voice from the Church. ”

    http://newsroom.lds.org/article/the-church-and-new-media:-clarity,-context-and-an-official-voice-newsroom-lds.org-full-story

  5. Cynthia,
    That little bit was so good that I had to add it to the OP. Thanks for the head’s up.

  6. For most of us, there are points that we have agreed with in the past and some that we haven’t. The line that Scott B. has disagreed with most particularly in the past, which had been central to my arguments, is “Unchecked and unregulated, such a flow may destabilize society and ultimately become unsustainable.” With such a concept recognized, it is easier for me to consider the other points.

  7. “The history of mass expulsion or mistreatment of individuals or families is cause for concern especially where race, culture, or religion are involved. This should give pause to any policy that contemplates targeting any one group, particularly if that group comes mostly from one heritage.”

    No mention of sexual orientation in this paragraph? Only race, culture or religion? Two of those three things are CHOSEN identities.

  8. I also applaud the awesomeness content. This is noteworthy, well thought out and much more concrete than previous statements by various GAs. The states rights part is interesting, as you indicate, for not only the marriage equality issue, but for other issues that the church has defined as moral issues and championed in the past. Some of those were perhaps more under the radar, while others like gambling or the MX missile have shown the church’s position quite openly.

  9. John Mansfield,
    I emphasize the word “may” in that quote… :)

  10. #8 kevinf,

    While I do think the statement is awesome, it does not differ that much from what other Christian churches (most especially, the Catholics) have been advocating for a few decades. The higher moral law supersedes many of our man-made laws. Since the LDS Church has not developed a deep and strong theology, it has rarely had to face such conundrums (moral law vs. secular law) in the past. And when it does have to face them, it tends to approach it from an organizational, corporate-like mentality. We desperately need a deeper concentration on higher moral law and on a basic LDS theology which does not impede on the possibility of direct revelation.

  11. Michael #7, I’m not sure that is entirely germane to this statement. While gay rights are at issue in significant ways in immigration policy—in asylum cases, and in terms of granting spouses citizenship, etc, I am not aware that there have historically been cases of “mass expulsion” of gay people. At least not in the same sense that there was of, say, Mexicans at various points in American history, or the Roma people at various points in world history, or the religious immigration strife in current Europe (Muslim immigrants).

  12. “Meanwhile, Church members should avoid making judgments about fellow members in their congregations.”

    Yes.

  13. “Meanwhile, Church members should avoid making judgments about fellow members in their congregations.”

    As for me and my house, we fully intend to continue to make judgments about those of our congregants who make judgments about undocumented members in their congregations. I do not mean this ironically. I will totally judge them.

  14. I too found this statement interesting for its directness. Like Scott, I favor an open border approach, but I see the church’s stance with being consistent in honoring the law of the land. I respect that this is most likely the wisest choice for an organization making this type of statement, even if my leanings differ.

    The rest of it is just lovely, IMO.

  15. Scott B., a shift to hypthetical possibility from nonsensical absurdity counts for something.

  16. Hypothetical possibility seems to be a more sensible approach than either nonsensical absurdity or apocalyptic inevitability.

  17. Sunny, the statement goes beyond saying that laws should be obeyed. It says there may be good reasons to regulate immigration.

  18. John Mansfield,
    I don’t actually dispute the possible (even probable?) practical problems that would arise if we completely opened the borders tomorrow. I’m more in favor of a graduated process of doing so, allowing for changes in policy and infrastructure (and for white rich people who are scared of strangers to install rebar on their windows) to adapt to whatever level of inflow (and outflow) would ultimately take place.

    However, I still favor opening the borders immediately to closing them immediately, given the two options. The bottom line for me is that I’ve never been able to understand why I should treat someone born a few hundred miles to the east of me in Nevada/Arizona differently than someone born a few hundred miles to the south of me in Mexico. It seems so arbitrary and man-made that enforcing or enabling laws to treat those people differently strikes my senses as immoral.

    Because the last paragraph of the OP containing the counsel from the Church leadership swings both ways, I will try to not judge people who feel differently about this in my ward and neighborhood. I hope they won’t judge me, of course, because we simply don’t understand each other.

  19. The history of mass expulsion or mistreatment of individuals or families is cause for concern especially where race, culture, or religion are involved

    This is the line that struck me the hardest — not just because it points up the racial aspect of the current debate, but because it puts the issue in a much wider context. This isn’t only the Newsroom speaking; it’s the Newsroom speaking for the Church, and I wonder if the concerns of Church leaders aren’t very, very much broader than some of us — me — have ever suspected.

  20. As my brother (who served Spanish speaking in CA) just put it to me after reading the release:

    “Not breaking up Mexican families. Isn’t it about…time?”

  21. @20: LOL

  22. #19 Ardis: I had a similar thought about that line.

  23. One needs to remember the reason and timing of this statement.

    Next Saturday, the Utah GOP will hold its state convention. Under consideration is a resolution opposing the Utah bill creating a guest worker program.

    This statement is an attempt to block that. I don’t think it will be enough. Some conservatives will dismiss this statement as the work of Church PR.

    I think it will require a public statement by a member of the First Presidency.

  24. Scott B., good luck with trying not to judge the rich white people who are scared of strangers.

  25. Ardis, that line and others impressed me, too, that worldwide immigration concerns, Amy Chua’s “World on Fire” as part of it, are on the minds of Church leaders.

  26. #18
    Scott, I’m with you. Even if the presence of more immigrants here hurts us somehow, so what? We are so concerned with maintaining and improving our economic standard of living as Americans. But I can come up with no good reason why I should care more about the well-being of Americans than the well-being of, say, Mexicans.

  27. John Mansfield,
    I can joke about them because I am one. Now, off to Home Depot to get some new window frames…

  28. Scott B., regarding your love for all mankind, which I obviously either do not possess or ruthlessly stifle within my breast, do you approach all economic and social issues this big-hearted way? Simply love another and that will tell us all we need to know?

  29. While it is interesting to hear what Scott thinks about today’s statement, I am personally really looking forward to John McNaughton’s reaction to this. I wonder if he will address it on his blog or make us wait a week for a painting that describes his thoughts.

  30. Bro. Matsby, there will also be lengthy descriptions attached to the painting that describes his thoughts.

    Can’t wait!

  31. One can defend the accuracy the church’s statement that “unchecked and unregulated” immigration may have serious, negative social and economic consequences without being a racist, xenophobic, Arizona-dwelling wall-builder. I don’t know what specific policies John M. endorses, but his take on the church’s statement seems to me the most reasonable one here. There are, contra Scott, actually many entirely legitimate (even, for some people, persuasive) reasons to allow the–usually, but historically speaking not always–“arbitrary and man-made” boundaries between peoples to factor into one’s moral reasoning. Those factors don’t trump every other–the church is pretty clear here on which values it takes to be paramount, and I agree with their decision–but they aren’t merely annoying holdovers to be overcome as soon as possible either.

  32. John Mansfield,
    I don’t know where love enters the question, really. To me, it’s just common sense (I realize that one man’s common sense is another man’s idiocy, but…):
    1. I didn’t pick where I was born
    2. You didn’t pick where you were born
    3. If I don’t like where I was born, I would want to move
    4. If you don’t like where you were born, and want to move, I get that.

    On the other hand, I do love the Beatles, and wouldn’t deny the influence they’ve had on my life…

  33. You know, this policy stuff is all great, but my yard is a total disaster, because I’ve had to work weekends for so long. Do I drive to Home Depot and pick up one of those Mexican day-laborers waiting outside the parking lot? For $10 an hour, those guys get a fair amount done, and I don’t want to shell out more than that — it isn’t worth it to me. I doubt if any of them are here legally, but they’d be grateful for the work, and somehow I feel my money would be doing more good than if I donated it to charity. And I’d get my yard cleaned up twice as fast (well, more than twice as fast — I can’t work as hard as one of those guys). But I think I’d be breaking the law. I did it once 6 years ago, and felt guilty about it. But nowadays, those guys look even more desperate for work, my yard is looking like it desperately needs work, and I just feel stupid.

  34. RAF,

    There are, contra Scott, actually many entirely legitimate (even, for some people, persuasive) reasons to allow the–usually, but historically speaking not always–”arbitrary and man-made” boundaries between peoples to factor into one’s moral reasoning.

    I should have spoken more clearly: I am very aware of many arguments; what I meant is that I’ve never been convinced by any of them on the particular issue of national boundaries.

  35. I haven’t been this vindicated since the Church’s statement on the MX-Missle! Woo-Hoo!

  36. I can’t think of any reason for *you* to think you were breaking the law, Martin, any more than if you hired a neighbor’s born-in-the-USA son to do the work. You wouldn’t be filing tax papers or paying workers’ comp insurance or checking immigration status on the neighbor boy, so why should it bother you not to do it for the day laborer?

  37. Martin,

    I doubt if any of them are here legally

    That’s one of the most problematic issues in the whole conversation, and really the one that started me down the road of being kind of a nutter when it comes to immigration policy: How sad is it that we live in a society where somewhere near the top of the list of things we think of when we see a certain people is whether they are legal? It seems to me that if we can never get past the point of caring more about the paperwork in a person’s wallet than we do about the reason they’re asking for a job, then we’re just lost as a people.

  38. Martin, if you’re going to hire someone of dubious immigration status, you might as well hire a member of our stake of dubious immigration status. :) And FWIW, I would have zero problem hiring a brother or sister from our stake with dubious immigration status.

  39. I am pleased with the Church’s statement, and really appreciate your commentary on it. Thanks, Scott.

  40. How sad is it that we live in a society where somewhere near the top of the list of things we think of when we see a certain people is whether they are legal?

    Well said. There are legitimate and important issues that come into play when one thinks about nations, states, citizenship, and immigration, but these issues in the U.S. have mostly been polluted by racial and economic worries. It’s deeply frustrating.

  41. Scott, you’re absolutely right. The papers matter to me not one whit. But honoring and sustaining the law, even if particular law is stupid in my opinion, does matter to me. The law isn’t stupid to everyone, and part of what makes our country “better” than Mexico is that law is more equally applied.

    But that said, I tend to speed. So Cynthia, if you have a name in mind, send it to me. The problem is coordination.

  42. I haven’t read the comments, so maybe another reader has already pointed this out. In regards to the state’s rights issue, though the first sentence, as you point out, seems to be a rejection that this is a state issue, the second sentence leaves it more open emphasizing that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that ONLY CONTAINS ENFORCEMENT PROVISIONS is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God.” To me it seems that the statement isn’t necessarily criticizing state’s rights but rather the whole concept of an enforcement only policy that does not seek to facilitate legal immigration or solve what is a very complex issue.

  43. Mark B. says:

    The only concern expressed in the Church statement about unchecked and unregulated immigration is directed at undocumented immigration. There’s nothing at all that we can (or should) take from the statement on the issue of restriction of the numbers of legal immigrants.

    I don’t think anybody, even those of us with the most liberal views on what immigration policy should be–open the borders wide and let anyone in who wants to come–has ever maintained that he or she is in favor of unregulated undocumented immigration.

    As the statement suggests, people on all sides of the issue have agreed that ultimately immigration is a national issue, not a state issue. Just as Utah cannot have a “foreign policy” of its own, there’s no way that it can have an immigration policy of its own.

  44. That’s what I was trying to hint about, Martin. Many times — perhaps not in your case — insistence that one is honoring and sustaining the law is really a cover-up for something else, if it wouldn’t occur to you to follow the same law with a presumed citizen.

  45. Good job Scott, and good job Newsroom.

  46. Arbitrary is not the same as pointless. Degrees of longitude and the length of the meter are examples of useful arbitrariness. Many conventions have that quality.

  47. The first commandment given to Adam upon leaving the garden of eden was that he was commanded to work. I don’t care what your status is. If some values your labor and will pay your for it or if you’ve created something of value and your neighbor wants to buy it then neither the government nor the people have any right to commandered all that you are unemployable or your business is unpatronable. What God has commanded let no man tear asunder as far as I am concerned. If your concern is with the laws being followed or with some negative externality as a result of immigration then amend the laws.

  48. Sabrina says:

    I am also an open borders advocate, for the most part. However, before that can be done, the welfare / warfare state needs to be put back into significant control (fat chance). Our nation is in serious financial and economic trouble and we don’t have the resources to put it back together, even if we are a “superpower”. At some point the bottom is going to fall out on us because how we live vs. what we produce is unsustainable, and frankly, we can’t afford to have more people coming in to use our schools, hospitals, etc. We can’t technically afford all those already using gov’t assistance. One day our creditors will want to be paid back and the printing presses can only print so much before our currency is valueless.

    If we could scale back significantly on what we dole out in gov’t charity and stop going on “democracy missions” around the world, spending billions on military funding, we could be in a place to welcome more people. Until we become an industrious, self-reliant nation, like it was when it was founded, we are toast, with or without illegal immigration.

    I haven’t been reading BCC long enough to know if I’ll be flamed for my political point of view, but so be it.

    Now, as far as the church’s statement on illegal immigration. I applaud it. It definitely more specific and diplomatic than past statements.

  49. Mark B. says:

    What, cs?? You mean that saying someone is “working without authorization” doesn’t make perfect sense to you?

  50. Sabrina,
    You’re fine. You won’t get flamed for a comment like that–no matter what the opinion is. John Mansfield is a good example in this thread of disagreeing with known attitudes of the OP’s author (me).

  51. Steve Evans says:

    Sabrina, I doubt you’ll be flamed, but I don’t think it’s true that the welfare state is the cause of the current U.S. economic woes, nor do I think it’s true that “Our nation is in serious financial and economic trouble and we don’t have the resources to put it back together, even if we are a “superpower”” — we clearly have the resources to put it back together. The United States is home to many of the wealthiest people in the world. The resources to put the U.S. back together are clearly out there — but they are in private hands and they’ll be damned if they’re giving any more of their wealth to fund “more people coming in to use our schools”. Government charity as you label it is not the source of our trouble.

    Agreed, however, that military funding is a significant expense.

  52. no flaming. but maybe some good-natured self-inflating razzing like hey, #47, I wish someone explained that to Rocky Mountain Power when they “commandered” ten feet of utility easement in my front yard, last year.

  53. Steve Evans says:

    lolz Brent!

  54. Interesting that illegal immigrants seeking a bit of that “pursuit of happiness” stuff should be treated as children of God. Homosexuals, on the other hand, should be cast aside using all of our means and time.

  55. Steve Evans says:

    Don’t make me retract my lolz.

  56. Be careful not to mix up Brent and Brett.

  57. Steve Evans says:

    Good heavens! Thanks Ardis. Sheesh. Sorry Brent.

  58. nice catch AEP. no worries. Speak of irony and in walks he–now signing BrentC

  59. But what of the Church’s stance on homosexuals who immigrate illegally? Which identity dominates?

  60. I applaud the church for this well thought out statement and for the care and concern given to how we treat each other as children of God and hope that this concern will soon be extended to all of God’s children. I agree unchecked and unregulated, such a flow may destabilize society and ultimately become unsustainable but this can be avoided by slowly opening our boarders until all border fences are removed from North America.

  61. If the Borders had not been open in the 19th c., I wonder how much of a Mormon Church there would be today. 12,000 left Nauvoo for Utah, 30,000 left Scandinavian, I have no idea how many left England for Utah.
    I live in S.Cal, which one time belonged it to the indians, then the Spanish, then the Mexicans, then the Whites. The Latnos are taking it back and quickly as they can. (Now about 60% non-White) It is still a very nice place to live and doing well.

  62. Bob (61), IIRC, the total from Europe was around 100,000 to about 1890.

  63. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for this, Scott. I’ve appreciated the Church’s careful and moderate position on immigration and loved this statement.

    I’ve seen some Utah Republicans try to make the argument that this is just Public Affairs going off the rails, that surely President Monson doesn’t subscribe to such a view. That’s just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. There’s no way on God’s green earth that Public Affairs would issue such a statement on such a sensitive policy issue if it didn’t have the full support of the First Presidency.

  64. Jonathan Green says:

    Kevin, a friend who works in Public Affairs has told me the same thing. They don’t make announcements like this without FP approval.

  65. This is wonderful to read. Everything else I might say has been said by someone else, so I just will second what Kevin Barney just said in #63.

  66. #11. Cynthia. I would note that during WWII the Nazi Government did imprison homosexuals as well as Gypsies/Roma, Seventh Day Aventists, Communists and other groups which they believed tainted the pure “Master Race”. Castro likewise imprisoned them.

  67. #63,64,65: It would be easy for the Newroom to avoid confusion on such a sensitive policy issue , just say who wrote the article and have the FP sign it.

  68. Steve Evans says:

    Anybody who is somehow confused by the meaning of this or doubts its authoritativeness is a moron.

  69. Steve Evans says:

    I mean, I guess you can quibble with the meaning of “authoritative” and say that nothing’s gonna make you be nice to illegals unless the FP signs a letter to be read over the pulpit. But seriously?

  70. Cynthia, you owe me $10! ( see #66)

  71. Steve (#23) is right about the timing – a week before the Utah GOP Convention, where this issue is on the agenda. Also, the statement includes specific phrases from the Utah GOP Platform that are at issue. Influential Utah party members have been lobbying the Church to issue this kind of statement prior to the convention.

  72. @Sam 66: I am aware of extensive, systematic, historical and current oppression of gays. However, IMHO, I personally don’t see the examples you cite as good examples of atrocities where immigration was a primary issue. This post, and the Newsroom piece, are about immigration.

  73. Peter LLC says:

    Until Ron Paul weighs in, I’m going to withhold judgment on whether the FP approved this statement.

  74. Bob,

    Seeing that it’s labeled an “Official Statement,” it’s really hard to see how there’s confusion on the matter. It’s time for those who disagree with the church on the immigration matter to admit they disagree instead of pretending that the church is being unclear or that such statements are not from the First Presidency.

  75. #74: I have never said I disagree with the ‘Statement’. I disagree with how the Newroom works. I have no problem with the Newroom given simple statements about what going on in the Church. But I don’t agree they should be giving out major “Official Statment” without stating who told them, who wrote the “Statement”, and having a signed/printed approval of the FP at the bottom.
    If Obama wishes to make an “official Statement”, he will do it himself, he does not use an unconfirming Newroom staff. The Mormon Church says it does not claim infallibility in it’s leadership, Members should feel the same way about the Church’s Newroom.

  76. But yes__it should be Newsroom.

  77. Bob does the spelling errors, Bob takes owership of the them, Bob “approves” them to be his own poor skills.

  78. Bob, you’re right.

    It’s obvious that the Newsroom has gone apostate, and has started releasing radical statements without the permission or input of the First Presidency. Given this reality (how else would they release this pro-illegals dreck?) I fully expect the First Presidency to fire the whole lot of them first thing Monday. The fact that the Newsroom had the nerve to call it an “Official Statement,” erroneously leading all thinking people who aren’t aware of the Newsroom’s apostasy to believe that the the statement came from the very top levels of the church, means that the people staffing the Newsroom will most likely also be excommunicated.

  79. #75 – Wow.

    That’s all.

  80. Steve Evans — now, now, they just maybe illiterate instead.

  81. I don’t agree with Scott B that the church’s statement rejects “states-rights”.

    If you substitute “federal legislation” for state legislation the idea it would be the same.

    Any legislation that fails to treat each other as children of God is is a problem. It doesn’t matter if it is from the state or federal level.

  82. I will accept no future Newsroom statements no matter how large the OFFICIAL STATEMENT stamp is, unless the First Presidency’s names are printed at the bottom. No, on second thought, they had better be original signatures. No, wait, I need to hear it from their voices, all three in chorus, over the pulpit at General Conference. No, that’s not right either. They need to come to my home and tell me in person. And they’d better be accompanied by an angel with a flaming sword. Then, just maybe, I might be willing to grant that the statement is official.

    Now, as to whether or not I will accept the counsel give in such statement, let me spell out my requirements …

  83. Chris H. says:

    Scott: well done.

  84. 1) Is it the Church’s position that all foreign nationals in the United States without authorization should be given preference over all foreign nationals who have remained in their home countries when it comes to receiving permission to enter, reside, and work in the United States?

    2) Does the Church feel that it is ever appropriate for foreign nationals in the United States without authorization to be deported?

    3) What sort of enforcement of immigration control is compatible with granting all foreign nationals within the borders of the United States permission to remain?

    4) If it is a litmus test of loyalty to the Church for LDS lawmakers to automatically implement policies supported by the leaders of the Church, is it unreasonable for non-LDS who do not believe the leaders of the LDS Church to be true prophets to therefore refrain from voting for candidates who are loyal Latter-day Saints?

  85. #84 – The statement itself answers those yes/no questions – but #4 just is silly, as it rests on a false assumption in the first place.

  86. The reality is that the LDS Church is more concerned with expanded membership in the U.S. (with much of the growth among illegals) and preserving its presence in South & Central America than cracking down on illegal immigrants in the U.S.

    They are clearly embarrassed by the Arizona effort (led by an LDS High Priest) and didn’t want Utah to go down that path. Nor, do they want Utah GOP delegates next week to oppose the Utah guest worker law.

    That is what they want. They’ve been comfortable working behind the scenes but now are being forced to act in public. And, that is the current problem. In Utah, right now, this statement has created considerable backlash by LDS conservatives.

    The key question is whether the LDS Church becomes even more public this next week or if they decide that they’ve done enough. I suspect right now that GOP delegates will next week oppose the Church position and call for the repeal of the Utah guest worker law. The only thing I see with a chance to turn it around is a statement by a member of the First Presidency in a public forum. President Uchtdorf would be ideal. I suspect that considerable discussion is occurring right now.

  87. The only thing I see with a chance to turn it around is a statement by a member of the First Presidency in a public forum.

    If the official statement doesn’t do it, then that wouldn’t do it either, unless that public forum is general conference. And since GC ain’t next week, I guess that’s that.

  88. I really hope the Church does not go further into this Utah intra-party dispute in more detail. The Utah bills in question are only symbolic anyway. Church members are already judging and accusing each other over this.

  89. michelle says:

    So one thing I don’t think I have seen addressed is while the statement recognizes that it’s ultimately a federal issue to come up with immigration reform, the Church also supported a state-level effort to address the current situation, which I think also reinforces that there may be things the states can do along the way while the federal government figures something out. But the statement clarifies that enforcement-only approaches aren’t the way the Church thinks things should go.

  90. #82: I don’t think all three need to be in chorus…..

  91. #82 and 90 – I want MoTab to sing it. :)

  92. The church statement has an interesting word choice. Without looking at it, fill in the blank:

    “The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to ________ without this necessarily leading to citizenship.”

    Why that word?

  93. 90: That’s because you’re a gullible old fool. I, on the other hand, am careful to discern the validity of the voices I listen to. And this time I’m not talking about the ones in my head.

  94. Ardis…love you.

    I’m already hearing some conservatives strain at trying to say how this doestn’ relaly apply…and some are reconciling themselves with the newsroom statement. It’s interesting.

    I really like the statement. It’s not conservative or liberal…it’s loving.

  95. Methinks that many here are straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

    Let me put it this way, very carefully. As a Mormon Democrat with slightly progressive political opinions, I support every official position of the Church. The Newsroom is a pretty good source of clarification if I have any questions. There are some policies of the church that I don’t fully understand or feel right about, but I follow them anyway or if I have a real problem doing so, I simply remain quiet because of my loyalty to the LDS church and the covenants I have made.

    I think that many Republican conservatives who may not feel comfortable with the Church’s position on immigration now have a wonderful opportunity to try that out for themselves. Give it a try. You will be blessed for it.

  96. #93: The reason there was also an angel on your lawn is given in Luke 15:10.

  97. Want some strange fun? read the comments in the Deseret News on this.

  98. MLJones says:

    #86–See the first line of #95.
    Straining at gnats, indeed. Although I see other reasons. They MAY want a guest worker program. They MAY see a guest worker program as ‘THE SOLUTION.’

    ‘THEY’ don’t understand 1) The U.S. Constitution (states can’t enact immigration rules–temporary OR permanent). So unless the Feds pass something to support Utah’s ‘guest worker program’, the “guest worker program is DOA.” Generating a great deal of heat, but very little light.

    Not to mention other issues, such as A) Sociologically, a guest worker program without the possibility of citizenship leads to the same type of multi-status, multi-rights society we have in the U.S. now, the only difference being that guest workers come and go, whereas we have increasingly trapped undocumented workers in the U.S. (multiple legal penalties for leaving and returning, not to mention the exponentially increasing coyote price). so B) as a practical matter of spreading the gospel, guest workers are fundamentally better suited–they are more likely, as fringe members of society, to seek new associations, and then when they return home (as the theory of guest workers suggests the must) they add to and support congregations in their homelands. But C) from a public policy perspective, (especially if you believe, as I do, that the United States’ ability to attract and integrate a wide variety of immigrants from all classes and countries is one of our primary competitive advantages in the global economy today) whether it is the un-integrated undocumented immigrant OR the un-integrated guest worker, both systems set up and depend upon a throw-away class of human beings. Fundamentally, the ONLY difference is that a (national) guest worker program does proper homage to the ‘rule of law’ idol.

    don’t get me wrong. I believe that Rule of Law has been fundamental to the U.S. society’s ability to expand and grow socially and economically beyond limited circles of trusted friends and family. But I do not believe that Rule of Law should be idolized, as it so often is in the immigration debate, over the basic humanity of people, not to mention human rights and dignity. Laws can break people as much as people break laws. CONGRESS chose to make it illegal to WORK (#92) without papers. Frankly, the 1986 Congress didn’t even really consult U.S. society before legislating that fundamental social change. But that may have been because they didn’t really plan on enforcing it. . . . and from a practical standpoint, it really wasn’t enforced–until the Obama administration. The real irony is that making employers accountable for checking legal status was Teddy Kennedy’s idea. . . .

  99. Keith R. Wood says:

    Through neglect and even purposeful act by government, a simple issue has become the elephant in the guest room.

    It used to be easy for people to come to America — all they had to do was survive the trip.

    Today, however, there is an entrenched bureaucracy, which has grown bloated on the basis of making it hard for people to come to the United States — and this has resulted in a back pressure against the bureaucracy and the laws which it enforces, like river water rising behind a dam. Eventually, the river will find ways around or over the dam, and that’s what has happened.

    It is necessary to open the gates of the dam wide enough to handle the river. The majority of illegal aliens are people who would be here legally, if not for the delays and logjams of quotas and corrupt immigration officials (who see a large “Pending” stack as their job security).

    Heavenly Father created this land without people — even the “Native” Americans are descended from immigrants — and we were expected to fill it in righteousness. When the people who should be allowed to come here are able to do so, that will leave the traffickers with only those who should be kept out, making it easier to keep them out. Instead, the Border Patrol is overwhelmed by wave after wave of illegal immigrants, with no way to separate the sharks from the salmon.

    We are not automatically better than everyone else because we are Americans. Being American (like being Mormon) simply gives us the opportunity to BECOME better. And every good person who comes to this country makes this a better place for all of us.

  100. This new trend with the Newsroom is really disturbing me. It’s really making the church feel like a corporation to me. (Yeah, I know that it IS a corporation, but I don’t want it to FEEL that way.) The Newsroom needs to stick with simple “news” articles. And if the church wants to make an “official statement” it should come from the Prophet and it should be the clear will of the Lord. If it isn’t the revealed word of the Lord to the prophet than maybe the church should consider just staying quiet on the matter.

  101. “And if the church wants to make an “official statement” it should come from the Prophet and it should be the clear will of the Lord. If it isn’t the revealed word of the Lord to the prophet than maybe the church should consider just staying quiet on the matter.”

    Who’s saying it’s not from the prophet and that it’s not the clear will of the Lord? What else does “official statement” mean?

  102. Hey, Brett, I’m with you! Yessiree, I am. See my #82.

    And if it seems like this comment is a tiresome repetition of my earlier comment, well, you’re my model for that, too.

  103. Today’s Deseret News has an editorial on the topic: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700143237/Preserve-the-Utah-Solution.html

    One thing that jumps out at me, after reading the comments, is that most anti-immigration folks see this as a case where the Church has made a drastic mistake and needs to be either ignored and/or corrected.

    In some sense this reminds me of when Utah was the state that repealed prohibition. The Prophet opposed doing so but enough members felt otherwise that Utah cast the deciding vote.

  104. “a solution” is different from “the solution.” For some people a variety of status positions may be better than a single status.

    Mexico has already gone from 4.6+ children to 2.4 children per family. Given that is a floating average, they are rapidly heading to the 1.7 or lower number sinking in the world over. They, and other countries are very likely to start facing negative population pressures such as Europe now has.

  105. I note the ‘Church News’ declares it’s the
    “Authorized News Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”.
    What then is the Newsroom? Why does it exist?

  106. The Newsroom is Church PR’s site. There, they post press releases and statements for the news media and the public to access. The Church News is just a Church publication like the Ensign or New Era.

  107. Tim (#101) wrote: “Who’s saying it’s not from the prophet and that it’s not the clear will of the Lord? What else does “official statement” mean?”

    It looks and acts like a press release. It came from the publicity arm of a multi-billion dollar corporation. It doesn’t identify the Prophet, the man we believe speaks for the Lord, as its author nor even a contributor. Is it the official statement of the corporation wishing to protect it’s assets or is it an official declaration of a prophet? I can’t tell.

    So, I’m not saying that it’s NOT from the prophet. I’m NOT saying it’s not the will of the Lord. I actually agree with the content. But if the Prophet is going to speak the will of the Lord, I think it ought to be unambiguous. Why do we all have to sit here and wonder? Would it have been that difficult for President Monson to have added a little clarity?

  108. There has been some in-depth discussion about the role of the Newsroom here at BCC before, including its shift from pure news tidbits to issuing doctrinal statements, and what that means for the church. See this interview BCC did of Michael Otterson, this announcement of the creation of the Newsroom blog, and Steve Evans’ definitive What’s a Newsroom for? article.

  109. #106: I think you have it backwards.The Church News Website is for news. The newsroom is for PR.
    #101: Maybe I am just old school__ an Official Statement is signed to make it Official. Otherwise, it’s just a statement.

  110. Bob,

    Hate to break it to you, but you might want to take a look at the Newsroom website. Above the immigration article, in black, are the words “Official Statement.” And in the first sentence, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today issued the following official statement on immigration…”

    It’s an official statement. End of story.

  111. Mark D. says:

    Next Saturday, the Utah GOP will hold its state convention. Under consideration is a resolution opposing the Utah bill creating a guest worker program. This statement is an attempt to block that.

    I happen to be a state delegate. I suggest that the primary reason why the resolution in favor of repealing HB116 is likely to pass is not because of knee jerk opposition to guest worker programs, but because parts of the bill are wildly unconstitutional.

    If the implementation of HB116 was contingent on the granting of a federal waiver then at least it would have the pretense of constitutionality. However, that is not the case. HB116 instructs the governor to take a series of actions on July 13, 2013 that are serious violations of federal law. Any employer who relies on Utah worker permits will be violating federal law as well.

    The Deseret News has an interesting theory about the power of the Attorney General of the United States to grant a waiver, but as far as I can tell, the provision that they are referring to is itself in reference to governmental authority to grant temporary protected status in cases of armed conflict and natural disasters(*), not some sort of carte blanche for the AG to grant arbitrary exemptions to federal immigration law.

    (* cf. 8 USC 1324a(h)(3)(b) and 8 USC 1254a)

  112. Last Lemming says:

    Wasn’t their an enforcement bill as well? Is its constitutionality any less dubious? Is the Republican party calling for its repeal, too?

    Anyway, the value in the Utah legislation is not that it is a constitutional solution to the problem, but that it demonstrates that a similar compassionate solution at the federal level could get support from an ultra-red state. That is a statement worth making, even if the legislation itself will probably never be implemented.

  113. Pretty much all the legislation on immigration passed by the recent session of the Utah legislature is likely unconstitutional. Why it’s important not to repeal HB 116 without repealing the entire set of new laws is because it was part of a package that got pretty close to the balance of the Utah Compact supported by the LDS Church as indicated by the involvement of Bishop Burton. Even the new Official Statement of the LDS Church recognizes these issues should be addressed at the federal level.The LDS Church IMO would like to see Utah setting a good example for the US Congress to follow on principle even if the Utah statutes are ultimately unconstitutional (and unnecessary if the US Congress got its act together)..

    The problem is, there was great proposal a few years back promoted by Senator McCain and President George W Bush. And it was pretty close to the principles of the Utah Compact with secure borders, a guest worker program and a pathway to citizenship. The Republican base rejected it out of hand. Don’t forget that Jason Chaffetz destroyed Chris Cannon in caucuses and convention on this very issue. I’m guessing that it was the same crowd who threw out Senator Bennett and are going for Senator Hatch next.time. I’ve brought it up with my own Congressman Bishop and he just brushes it off emphasizing “enforcement.”

    So, there just has to be some kind of shift in the Republican Party of the State of Utah. I hope they can accomplish it.

  114. Mark D. says:

    Yes, there was an enforcement bill (Utah HB497), similar to Arizona’s in some respects, but generally milder and much less extensive. The constitutionality of these bills is an interesting question. The Supreme Court recently held that an Arizona provision to revoke business licenses of those knowingly employing illegal immigrants is constitutional, stating:

    Arizona’s licensing law falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the States and therefore is not ex-
    pressly preempted. While IRCA prohibits States from imposing “civil
    or criminal sanctions” on those who employ unauthorized aliens, it
    preserves state authority to impose sanctions “through licensing and
    similar laws.” §1324a(h)(2).

    In the same ruling, Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting (2011), the Supreme Court also upheld the Arizona law requiring employers to participate the E-Verify program. Utah has not passed similarly extensive requirements. The state certainly could, and would be in the clear, constitutionally speaking. I doubt such provisions are likely to be enacted in the near future, however.

    As far as state assistance in enforcing federal law goes, 8 USC 1357(g), also known as Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, provides for precisely that. If Congress did not want such assistance they could pass the opposite provision, pre-empting state enforcement of such laws. I don’t think the Supreme Court has ruled on either the Arizona or the milder Utah provisions in this area.

  115. @Tim (#110)

    I get that “they” have called it an official statement. But, is it an official statement of the corporation or an official statement of the Lord through his prophet?

    And how are we meant to tell the difference?

  116. John C. (not the regular John C.) says:

    If an undocumented worker is here and working, does “squaring with the law” mean that they will be given a chance to do something about the: 1) document fraud that they have committed to get the job, and 2) the perjury they committed when they signed their W-2??

  117. Note, the above John C. is not me, your regularly scheduled John C.

  118. #115 – never mind

  119. John C. (the real one) — You think we couldn’t tell the difference???

  120. #116, I know it’s been used time and time again, but the comparison is noteworthy since getting a job to provide for your family takes precedence over driving to work…

    When you signed your drivers license are you away that you agree to abide by and follow all the rules of the road? Are you aware that when you neglected to use your turn signal, you in essence committed perjury as you had previously signed a document stating you would do no such thing? We could continue all of the traffic violations we commit on a daily basis that violate rules of the road we agree to that are in place to actually save lives from immediate harm.

    When someone gets a job, picking lettuce, hanging drywall, or sweeping floors there is not a 5% chance of you being seriously injured or killed. Yet from time to time we all speed, roll through stop signs, or run a yellow/red light. This does not justify “bad behavior”. But it places it in context. Let those who you accuse of bad behavior square themselves with the law, even while you continue to dangerously violate it in other areas.

  121. I don’t want to justify any of those things, but exceeding the speed limit is not perjury. Perjury is lying under oath.

    Exceeding the speed limit is certainly common, running red lights isn’t, nor is driving through stop signs without approximating a complete stop. If you completely ignore any of those rules, you are guilty of reckless driving, which is a serious offense.

    Suppose you file a false tax return stating that you do not owe any income taxes. That is perjury. People can and do suffer serious criminal penalties for things like that.

  122. “John C”, ‘squaring yourself with the law’ in this case clearly suggests some sort of amnesty program that allows continued residence within the country. Without such a program, the only way to square yourself with the law is to quit breaking it, which means leaving the country if not granted permission to stay.

  123. Fo those of you who applaud the church’s approach to “not breaking families” of illegal immigratnts, please think about the families of those who are trying to immigrte legally and have to wait for their turn for years while being apart with their family. I support the church’s position that we should not be found jusdging or hating anyone–legal or illegal. But the part of the statement favoring the approach of lagalizing those who are here illegally is wrong. I am not going to lose my faith in the church over this, but I will exercise my right to study the issues and make my own decisions (to support politicians and measures aimed at defeating any laws aimed at amnesty).

  124. #123 – I’ve thought about it. Nothing’s changed. I still think the Church’s statement is correct – that families shouldn’t be broken up if there is a way to avoid doing so.

    Obviously, there are at least three ways to avoid doing so (allow families of illegal immigrants to remain somehow; deport all family members of illegal immigrants; allow all family members of legal immigrants to be in the US with those immigrants), but breaking up some families just because others are separated by a different immigration situation? No, thanks.

  125. Mark B. says:

    There’s no need to have an “amnesty”–although I would welcome it. It would, after all, solve the “problem” of all those illegal immigrants who are here working and contributing to our economy and paying taxes and rent and buying groceries and gasoline and clothing and doing entry level labor so other people can become their bosses and drive big Ford pick-up trucks. So, ms801, while you’re studying basic English writing skills and immigration law and policy, make sure that you spend some time learning about the contributions made by all those people whose families you might just want to avoid breaking up.

    But, as I say, we wouldn’t need an amnesty, and a substantial part of the population could regularize their status if we’d get rid of Section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which bars persons who have been “unlawfully present” in the U.S. for specified periods from re-entering the U.S. for up to ten years. A great penalty (if you like that sort of thing), except that one of its primary effects has been to stop people from returning to their home countries and obtaining immigrant visas that they would otherwise be entitled to. Until 1996, no such concept existed in the law, and we managed to get along fine without it. Let’s repeal it now, and we’ll see the “problem” solve itself over the next several years.

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