Undocumented Missionaries

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?


  1. I was hoping there would be a post on this.
    The anti-Mormons and those who hate all illegal immigrants own the comments section on the Salt Lake Tribune article, no other newspaper has an article about it at this point, and I’ve found no civil, reasonable on-line forum to talk about the issue, until now.
    That missionary served in my current ward right before I moved into it. From what I’ve heard (from the current missionaries in my ward, so it’s all hearsay) is that he had a valid passport, but his visa expired (presumably while he was on his mission). His mother had volunteered to drive down to pick him up, but his mission president had insisted he take the flight instead, even though it was only a drive of a few hours. The mission president visited him daily after the arrest, until the missionary got transferred to DC. The church has hired attorneys to try to help the missionary. (Again, all hearsay).
    I think the church’s response is the right one–keep these Elders away from airports, and allow them to serve missions in the US, which is what many of them regard as their home country. Many of them have no connections to the country where they were born. It’s obvious that many church members have a hard time accepting these people; exactly for that reason, the church should continue to embrace them, allow them to serve missions in the US, etc. The church is sending a clear message–these are human beings, good church members, and they deserve acceptance and not hate.
    I personally feel that the next few years would be a good time to push for major immigration reform, and I think that would be a productive thing for the church to get involved in.
    It might alienate some LDS members–but getting involved with politics always will.

  2. Just to say this as a foundation, that missionary was in our mission. He ended his mission as a Zone Leader in our stake and is a WONDERFUL young man. I don’t think I’ve ever met a better person or a better missionary.

    The worst thing about his situation, outside of his actual arrest, is that the jail where he was being held initially denied the Mission President and Stake Presidents in our area standard ministerial access to see him. He had no toiletries when he was arrested, as he didn’t expect to need them, and he was not provided any in jail. He had to wait a full week before being allowed to shower. His overall treatment has been . . . I find it hard to describe adequately, but “abominable” fits best.

    I like the Church’s practices, and I find it troubling that this might become a standard practice – immigration agents “picking the low hanging fruit”, per se. If organizations are allowed legally to provide service opportunities to undocumented members, I believe the law should not allow for their arrest while technically still engaged in that service – and missionaries still are missionaries until they are released.

  3. Tim, what ward are you in?

    Also, he was transferred from the county jail in KY to a jail in Chicago – not DC. His family lives about 4 hours outside the mission, and he was not flying at the MP’s insistence. The offer to come and get him came after the arrest; it was denied by the immigration people. It took over a week for him to receive visits from the MP, but he was visited daily after that. (Btw, he was teaching one of the other inmates the discussions, and when the authorities found out, they transferred that inmate away from him.)

    Rumors spread quickly when other missionaries are talking about it.

  4. Norwood.
    Thanks for the corrections on the hearsay.

  5. Tim,

    I’m curious about something you posted just now about the missionary’s having a valid passport, but not a visa.

    Which country’s passport did he possess? If a US passport, then he is either a US citizen or a fraud (and would not have had a visa). If the passport were from some other country, he would have resided in that country in order to acquire it. Where’s the hardship in having him to return to whatever country he’s from like the millions of honorable people who wait patiently (yes–sometimes for years, and I am one of them) for LEGAL entry and work privileges to the US?

    Whence the entitlement?
    Where’s the integrity?

  6. Tim, Fairfield. I’m on the Stake Missionary Committee, so we’ve discussed his situation in some detail.

    Angela, he originally is from another country, but his family now lives in the states. What’s the hardship? Other than the fact that he would be alone in a country with no job, no family, no money, no connections, no possessions, etc.?

    Probably none.

  7. The church needs to continue doing what it is doing. The membership of the church, at least those who side with the likes of Lou Dobbs need to realize that that is not the position of the church vis a vis immigration.

    In my last branch, in a poor area of Queens, NY, we had many illegal immigrants who were active in the church, including high priests. Based on American law, they should be deported, but based on the gospel, that’s just not the case. I’d love for the more conservative Mormons around us to match their political views to the gospel. It would solve a lot of problems.

  8. Whence the entitlement?
    Where’s the integrity?

    Have you looked in your butt? It could be there…

    (yes, feel free to delete my comment admins… )

  9. >Where’s the hardship in having him to return to whatever country he’s from like the millions of honorable people who wait patiently (yes–sometimes for years, and I am one of them) for LEGAL entry and work privileges to the US?

    One problem is selection in income and education. The process (as you apparently know; I do too, being married to a foreigner) is long and difficult and complicated with no guarantees. By and large, it requires many connections and relationships and higher-than-average income and education levels to have a reasonable chance at navigating the bureaucracy. While the rules _in theory_ may be the same for all people, the real rules are _not_ the same for all people.

    While some people may view a policy that only allows high-income, high-education foreigners smooth entry as a positive, I think it’s morally reprehensible, contrary to our nation’s historical roots, bad for the economy, etc…

  10. #7: “I’d love for the more conservative Mormons around us to match their political views to the gospel. It would solve a lot of problems.”


    The “conservative” Mormons who are so unsympathetically against immigration drive me crazy.

    You loved the Mexican people when you served them on your mission… just as long as they don’t try to follow you home, eh?

    That doesn’t seem right.

  11. >I’d love for the more conservative Mormons around us to match their political views to the gospel. It would solve a lot of problems.

    Dan, I’d love for you to not make such uninformed, hypocritical, self-serving comments. It would solve a lot of problems.

  12. It is interesting that the Church is taking special steps to protect missionaries from US law enforcement. Reminds me of the polygamy days.

  13. Scott, I don’t know why you’re so upset. According to a few things I saw at your old blog, you’re anti-xenophobic. What gives?

  14. Given my connection to this missionary, this is more personal to me than to most. This is a real person and a real family, suffering real pain and difficulty. Can we please focus on the situation and the questions of the post and dispense with political name-calling?

  15. My mom works in a mission home and she’s told me though go to great lengths to make sure their undocumented missionaries dont’ get caught. (that sounds more devious than I mean it) . Those missionaries aren’t allowed to drive. They never fly (to or from) their missions. My mom arranges bus routes and members to pick them up and get them home.

  16. You’re right, Dan. I’m a big fan of throwing the gates wide open and letting people live where they want to live.

    What I’m not a fan of is a smug blanket statement suggesting that an entire group of people who disagrees with you is out of harmony with the gospel. That group of people (if it exists) would certainly argue that they are in harmony with the gospel, and that you are not. You do them a short shrift by asserting as much, and you make those of us who agree with your preferences on immigration look like insufferable know-it-alls.

  17. Good point, Scott.

  18. I think if we’re really concerned about this young man’s (and others’) welfare, then why don’t we ask what he will do with his life? Can he get a legal job in the US? Can he work for the Church in the US? I thought that’s why the Perpetual Education Fund was started, to help people in other countries have a better life? Can he really be all that successful here? Not without lying (and breaking other laws), I think.

  19. Well I’ll respect Ray’s request to keep this on subject.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    Just a reminder that this is a serious issue, so please keep the level of discourse here serious and constructive.

  21. Latter-day Guy says:

    Thanks, Scott B. I appreciate the fact that you are willing to acknowledge that this issue is complex, and that both sides may have valid points. That having been said, there’s no question that this situation sucks. I hope that the Elder will be able to return to his family with a minimum of trouble. Do keep us posted, Ray, Tim, et al.

  22. Some of these young men were brought to this country illegally by their parents when the young men were very small children and not in control of their movements — although in this country illegally, they have done nothing wrong themselves.

    We might wish the law had not been broken; we might acknowledge the justice of a law that regulates border crossings; we might even agree that it would be a very good idea to have these young men regulate their status. But the U.S. gives them absolutely no workable way to do that — I don’t consider it workable to demand that they go “back” to countries they haven’t known since they were toddlers, where they know no one and have no resources, countries which might be in political chaos and economic despair (the reasons their parents left in the first place), and expect them somehow to survive while they deal with a hostile bureaucracy.

    At least God prepares a way for people to regularize their status when they have broken His laws, died without baptism, and cannot go back to help themselves. But the U.S. Goverment isn’t God, no matter how much it pretends otherwise.

  23. Whoahorsies says:

    How did he get a US passport if he is not a US citizen?

  24. Kevin, Dan, Ray, Latter-day Guy–
    I apologize for a short fuse. There are few public policy topics I take more seriously than this one–both as a Latter-day Saint and as a citizen of the U.S. I do not see this as being about politics, but about human beings–both immigrants and citizens who welcome or oppose them, and I lose patience with political statements about any of those involved.

    I hope the Church continues its course in allowing undocumented foreigners to serve missions, even if it does require extra effort and consideration to avoid legal hangups.

  25. Mark Brown says:

    It does not behoove LDS U.S. citizens to demand strict compliance with U.S. immigration and visa laws.

    Some of us have served, or have family members who have served, in various parts of the world on missions. While I credit the church with a good faith effort to comply with the laws of other countries, we also sometimes find ways around the bureaucracy. There’s no need to get the high horse out for a gallop.

  26. Angela, Whoahorsies:
    It wasn’t an American passport.
    From what I heard, he, like many others who are now in the country illegally, had an expired visa.
    I’m sure Ray knows the details better than I do.
    What an awful end to a mission. If he was anything like me, he was looking forward to returning home, seeing his family and friends again, etc.
    Hopefully he’ll be able to make the most of his situation, whatever that may be.

  27. MinJae Lee says:

    I am not at all comfortable with the apparent lack of regard for the 12th Articlew of Faith. How can we say that we believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” when we assist people in living illegally in a country (any country, not just the US). For those in the US, in the long term they will continue to have more and more problems due to their illegal status – the only help the Church should be providing is helping them get legal.

  28. >the only help the Church should be providing is helping them get legal.

    I completely understand the sentiment, but the difficulty is that there is no way of “helping them get legal.” The only options the INS (or whatever it calls itself these days) gives you are to 1) stay under the radar or 2) get out of the country.

  29. Researcher says:

    Trotting out the good ol’ 12th-Article of Faith argument always baffles me.

    Using the Article of Faith as a bludgeon to disagree with the policy of church leaders regarding immigration is credulous at best, considering the point at which the Articles of Faith were written (1842).

  30. MinJae Lee, I’m sure Elder Holland would appreciate hearing from you directly. You can call him to repentance from your political Rameumptom, and get back to us.

  31. I seem to remember something about Jesus and his disciples picking corn on the Sabbath and about Joseph Smith trying to escape from jail.
    I also remember a recent Conference talk about Thoreau, the father of American civil disobedience (although the speaker didn’t discuss the civil disobedience thing).
    And I hardly think church member Helmut Huebener is burning in hell for resisting his government, Nazi Germany. I’m not trying to compare the US to Nazi Germany, except to say that neither are perfect–I’m just saying that sometimes the spirit of the law dominates over the letter of the law, and sometimes God’s laws dominate over man’s.
    These are people we’re talking about–they need the same help the rest of us do. I think it would be rather heartless for the church to abandon one of its faithful missionaries before that missionary can return home and report.

  32. MinJae Lee: I am not at all comfortable with the apparent lack of regard for the 12th Articlew of Faith.

    Me either. But the problem is far worse than you know. I have heard that most Mormons exceed the speed limit daily!!! Broad is the path the hell folks, broad is the path.

  33. 1) If the Church reported every undocumented person who expressed interest in joining it, it would cease to be an international church and morph into an arm of the US Government. I mean that literally. The Church is NOT a United States church, and American members need to realize that once and for all. It’s a global organization headquartered in the US, and it has NO responsibility to actively enforce laws. It must leave personal compliance to its individual members.

    2) The Church’s primary mission is to preach Jesus, the Christ – to allow the Gospel to change lives. If undocumented people knew they would end up jailed and/or deported by listening to the missionaries and risking making their status known (since the missionaries would be required as agents of the Church to report them), the work would cease among that group – and the transforming power of the Gospel would be denied to them.

    3) Local leaders do everything they can in situations where they can do something to help undocumented members receive proper documentation. However, there are some obstacles that can’t be overcome without hurting people terribly. Also, there are some investigators who can’t get baptized, because they can’t get married. Until you know individuals in these situations and, especially as Ardis says, the kids who had no choice or say in their current situations, it’s very easy to see this in simple black and white terms. It is anything but simple.

  34. One more point:

    I know this is a generalization, so I am phrasing it as such, but it’s fascinating to see some of the most conservative members argue against these missionaries serving. I support the Brethren fully, and when someone who preaches, “Follow the Prophet. He knows the way,” vociferously and without exception argues AGAINST the Brethren on this issue – at the very least they should realize and admit that they are opposing the Prophet by doing so.

    As I said, that’s fascinating to me.

  35. Scott B. is right. Immigration has nothing to do with religious belief.

    Religious arguments on immigration are very thin cover for purely cultural ones. American Protestants (as a rule) oppose illegal immigration, American Catholics (as a rule) range from tolerance to heartfelt embrace.

    Why the difference? Are Catholics less/more Christian? Is the Catholic Church more international? Does the Pope support some 5th column?

    No. These questions do not interest American Catholics at all. The simple truth is that American Catholics were/are recent working class immigrants (Italian, German, Irish, Mexican) with strong historical roots and extended family continuity, yet passionately in love with their new country. Never having had power in this (or their former) country, they do not fear to lose it.

    Catholics are company men, not entrepreneurs. They of all groups may subscribe least to the (non-Biblical) belief that “God helps those who help themselves”. They were not planning to get ahead in business anyway, so increased competition is no threat to them.

    Catholics fully grok the motivation of more recent arrivals (whether refugee or economic immigrants) and instinctively empathize, even those who are for managed immigration. Many parishes even have unofficial “underground railroads” where papers are not checked at the door, and this is not viewed as un-American. Above all, the sight of the INS separating an undocumented parent from his/her documented child fills a Catholic heart with pain, disgust, and shame. If there is immorality in immigration policy, it finds its greatest evil in this.

    Immigration law has no moral authority, having been historically shamelessly self-serving, attracting cheap labor from Chinese men, but forbidding entry to Chinese women as insurance that the men will not overstay their “welcome”. German farmers were welcomed and sent (willingly) to the front lines of Minnesota to lock in gains at the expense of the native population, but not welcome in NYC. And we all know how quotas were used to keep out Jewish refugees fleeing central European pogroms.

    Whatever historically dominant perspective Mormon have had on immigration derives no doubt from its ethnically homogeneous origins, (well-founded) fear of outsiders, and alternating need to get along with and exist apart from their Protestant neighbors. If the perspective of the Church has changed, is it inconceivable that increasing success internationally is playing a role?

    I am strongly pro-immigrant, and before this blog I thought it was for noble reasons. I see now that my ancestors have preprogrammed me. If I have little choice in my subconscious belief system, I am at least grateful that they chose wisely on my behalf.

  36. It appears that this young man just had terribly bad luck–ICE happened to be hanging around at the airport, and either were checking documents randomly (so long as the persons looked Hispanic) or TSA advised them of people carrying foreign passports.

    We had a young man from our area who served a mission in Utah. Church travel told us to send him by air, but we felt insecure about that, so he spent three and a half days on the Greyhound bus on his way out. When he returned, though, he flew, and arrived in 4.5 hours.

    The sentiments that most have shared, hoping that there’s some way this young man’s situation can be fixed and he be returned to his family, are, sadly, unlikely to be realized. Given his age and his situation, I think it’s highly unlikely that he will be eligible for any relief from removal. The provisions of the INA that allow a judge to exercise mercy (asylum, cancellation of removal) usually have pre-conditions that he would probably be unable to meet. And that wonderful law also requires that, if he leaves the U.S., he wait 10 years before he can return.

    So, what causes people to stay? The hope that these horrible laws will change and allow them to obtain legal status here, and that they will be able to remain here, contribute to our society, and provide a better life for themselves and their children.

  37. One issue from this is the extent to which temple goers are expected to be truthful when asked if they are honest in all their doings. (Does it say “all”, I forget.)

    For example, I have a wealthy member buddy who hires almost exclusively illegal aliens to clean home and business in the SLC area. The justice side of me feels bad when he lives extravagantly on the backs of his poorly paid (non-benefit) workers. I am also curious how he answers the temple interview honesty question.

    I talked to a Bishop about this and he said we should just focus on the big things.

  38. Quite by accident, I once found myself at a foreign airport with a legally trained GA, giving in to an extortive demand for a bribe from a functionary (they maintained I had violated some Byzantine and basically ridiculous rule and could pay an enormous fine or let them “take care of it” for a small goodwill offering). As I recall I sort of confessed it to this thoughtful, spiritual man, and he said something like “these are complicated places, aren’t they?” neither condoning nor condemning.

    It brings us back to that old problem we had of rendering Caesar his due without serving Mammon (I don’t mean this in terms of money, but in terms of loyalty when spiritual good sense is at odds with either legal or otherwise normative culture), which we have lived with for a long time. Although I don’t think the writing is that great, and it’s so heavily dependent on a specific military action, I do like to reflect a little on Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience from time to time.

    Bending these sorts of rules that strike us as ludicrous is almost hardwired in us, and it’s tricky to sort out when to be “moral” in the sense of legal and when to be “moral” in the sense of loyal to our spiritual common sense.

    On a separate note, I have clear memories of the terrible way these “documents” played out in Russia when we were there, a way for the police to attack and antagonize the n*****’s (their reference to anyone not clearly European). I myself started to get paranoid when I realized once that I had not completed the paperwork to the T and strictly speaking had become “undocumented”–a worse feeling than the moment when we discovered quite by accident that our train had lurched into Belorussia (note to self: read the actual tables when traveling near international borders) and had to try to explain how we had ended up there without a proper visa, only to be told that our passports had expired (the immigration officer couldn’t read US passports and was off by 4 years). Fortunately, since we were white (I think) they let us go with a gentle reminder to keep our documents in order. My “undocumented” status in Russia got solved by an NGO “consultant” “honoring” an immigration officer with a liter of vodka and a bouquet of flowers after they had serially rebuffed me personally.

    Strange world, particularly for those of us who lack $$.

  39. One of my family members is married to an undocumented alien. They are saving to take the steps required to make her legal, but will need close to 10k to do it.

  40. tdamcbigity says:

    Let us all step back and consider the fact that nations and borders are merely telestial constructs. We are all children of God and have no boundaries other than those we place on ourselves through sin and transgression. I applaud the Church for seeking to provide ways for all God’s children to serve if they so choose.

  41. Confused says:

    I consider myself a “liberal” Mormon, but I still side with the 12th article of faith. Growing up in southern California and a rural farm town in Arizona, I don’t understand why the church should look the other way. I don’t think we should turn people in, but I think legal presence ought to be a requirement for baptism just as marriage is for those cohabitating. Or should we look the other way on that, too?

  42. Legal immigrant says:

    I know dozens of documented and undocumented people, some of whom come from relatively wealthy countries. Others come from abject poverty. Some made a choice to enter or stay in the US illegaly, falsify their work papers, lie about their nationalities, and cheat the system.

    I know several people who chose to return to their countries of origin rather than overstay their visas, because they interpreted, “Thou shalt not bear false witness” to mean exactly that. I know some would-be immigrants who value honesty so highly that they are willing to take a chance at a divrsity visa or wait 20 years in a third world country for a family member to sponsor them.

  43. I have always answered the “honest in all your dealings” question with “i try”. I do try. I’m not sure if i am perfectly honest.

    I am really big on obeying the law. I don’t even speed, unless driving in CA and it is unsafe to do so.

    I am also really big on entering the country legally…HOWEVER…this exact situation shows why it is such a complicated issue. What do the children of the illegal immigrants do? They may never remember their “home” country, have never been there, not speak the language…really they are supposed to go there and wait for years for someone’s friend to get in the mood to let them come here?

    Surely this process can be streamlined somehow…surely simplicity is a possibility? Surely there is a different process for those who have been raised here, than those who have be caught here smuggling illegal substances or such…

    A few wards ago we had almost every south american country represented in our ward. Our bishop was a legal immigrant. he would quietly go about stepping people through the process. He was very loving about it, and very helpful.

  44. esodhiambo says:

    I was unaware–thanks for brining this story to my attention.

    This is so complicated. I am extremely liberal but I will admit to feeling negatively about members who break even absurd and unfair US immigration laws. And I admit US immigration laws are absurd and unfair, especially if you happen to be a Mexican (from whence it can take the US consulate 14 years to look at your application).

    That said, minors brought be parents, obviously, do not share the same blame as adults who made decisions to overstay visas or cross borders.

    And to suggest these kids go and apply from their countries of citizenship just won’t work. As young, unmarried, maybe poor, males who have previously violated laws, they have virtually no chance of being granted legal access.

    I still am uncomfortable with the Church getting involved in evading laws. Would it help at all to have undocumented missionaries serve in their home missions? No flying that way.

    Poor guy–I am sure he will be fine eventually, but this is not how he imagined his return.

  45. MinJae,

    As was noted before, the LDS Church is not required to serve as a branch of immigration services.

    So they ARE honoring and following the law of the land – a law of the land which does not require the LDS Church to do INS’s job for it.

  46. 19th century Mormon missionaries violated European laws every time they crossed certain borders or opened their mouths to preach. They evaded authorities as long as they could; they went to prison when they got caught. They preached to the public before they were arrested; they preached to jailers and fellow inmates while they were in prison. They were deported and told never to come back. As soon as they could find a way back in, they went back.

    Church members cheered them as heroes then, and we remember them as heroes and martyrs now.

  47. To add to what Seth said, the Church also is following the law of the land here in America – where there is a law explicitly allowing organizations to let undocumented members provide unpaid service for that organization. The Church is acting strictly within the limits of existing US law in what it is doing – and actually changed its policy because of that law. (See the second paragraph of the post itself.)

    It’s easy to forget that, but it’s central to the whole situation.

  48. It just chafes me to see members so willingly embracing the roles of Swedish priests and Prussian soldiers and Hungarian princes today.

  49. I wonder if the immigration people realize they arrested an actively serving missionary, since he still hasn’t been released by his home Stake President. That concerns me every bit as much as the actual arrest – that they might try to identify and arrest actively serving missionaries even before they are returning home.

    (I believe that’s the case. I probably will find out next week in our monthly meeting if an exception was made to have someone else release him, or if his Stake President traveled to him to do it.)

  50. MinJae Lee says:

    I don’t think the church should be a branch of immigration services – what I am opposed to is the Church helping people to continue in illegal behavior and avoid apprehension. At the same time, it is not the Church’s position, necessarily, to “rat them out”. My thought is that if the Church does get involved at all it should be with the intent to help people “get legal”. Now, if we want to throw out the 12th Article of Faith I would no longer have any objection to the church aiding and abetting those in need.

  51. My thought is that if the Church does get involved at all it should be with the intent to help people “get legal”.

    MinJae, that happens all the time at the local level. All. The. Time.

  52. Ardis speaks the truth.

    As anyone who has served a mission in a land with laws that discriminate against foreign missionaries well knows.

  53. Obviously Elder Holland and the Church Missionary Committee do not share the assessment of some commenters that the calling of missionaries in this situation is a violation of the 12th Article of Faith. If they recognize such elders’ status as a crime, they do not view it as a disqualifying sin.

  54. #46

    Well said, Ardis.

  55. Also, there is a long precedent, from Dallin H. Oaks to Joseph Smith, Jr., of righteous men expressing willingness to lie or actually lying to their fellow men to serve a higher purpose. The imperative to tell the truth (or to obey civil laws) must always be balanced against other moral imperatives. Would you lie to the SS men asking if you are hiding jews in your attic? Speaking half truths and learning to read between the lines — that was the very fabric of the underground that kept prominent LDS leaders, most notably President Taylor, from being arrested for deliberately disobeying federal anti-polygamy laws for the better part of a decade. (Come to think of it, did John Taylor immigrate legally?)

  56. So what other felonies is the Church willing to overlook when interviewing prospective missionaries?

  57. It continues to disturb me that so many people see this in black and white, that so many put up their understanding of the 12th Article of Faith (an understanding the prophet Joseph didn’t have) above the second greatest commandment.

  58. The treatment by the U.S. of arrested, undocumented residents, such as this good missionary, is outrageous. Some may or may not have watched the movie “The Visitor” for an example of such treatment that is unworthy of a country that purports to stand for fairness. I thought that the movie overstated the types of shameful treatment arrested undocumented residents receive, but the SL Tribune report on the treatment of this missionary indicates that the movie did not overstate that unfairness and (in my opinion) indefensible immorality of this law, particularly when applied to individuals brought to this country as children.

    God bless and comfort this good missionary and his family.

    I personally feel that the current president, attorney general, secretary of homeland security and Congress may be more inclined to humaneness in the application of immigration laws and regulations. I pray that they might show forth a spirit of conciliation in this case.

  59. Alvin T,
    An expired visa=felony? What universe do you live in? Unbelievable…

  60. Just to follow up (and clear up some of the more outlandish rhetoric on this thread): undocumented immigration is not even a crime. It is a violation of civil, not criminal, law.

  61. Steve Evans says:

    Members Without Borders.

  62. I think it is important to note that in most cases these missionaries did not violate the law themselves but were born into families that brought them at a young age. It is unlikely that these missionaries made conscious decisions to immigrate illegally.

    It makes the decision dicier and makes them much less “felonious” as we believe that the sons do not pay for the sins of their fathers. Or am I doctrinally incorrect?

    I personally like the “don’t ask don’t tell” approach and I think the examples we have heard are about how the mission presidents individually handle their situations which hopefully is based on inspiration. One step the church could take, however, is to have missionaries sign some kind of form saying that they acknowledge the risk of traveling without documentation just to make sure that everyone is informed.

  63. Molly Bennion says:

    Query for the Immigration Attorneys-Will the INS typically move to find and deport this missionary’s undocumented family members? (IMHO compounding the tragedy.)

  64. Mark Brown says:

    The IRS says you need to issue a W-9 form to your babysitter if you paid over $600.00 (50/month) in the calendar year.

    I am almost certain that almost all of us are in violation of one law or another.

  65. So what other felonies are you willing to overlook, Mark?

  66. Mark Brown says:

    OLC memos. I side with pres. Obama here.

  67. Ditto DavidH– The Visitor does show it well how poorly undocumented Americans are treated. It is over the top though–

  68. This issue raises for me genuine feelings of conflict. I share a sense that it is deeply tragic for children illegal brought to the US to grow up without a country and to lack citizenship for something that is not their fault. However, I also sympathize with the view that legalizing such children would create more incentives for illegal immigration, not resolve the root problem, and be unfair to those who waited to go the legal route. I would like to see better policies for legal immigration, policies that began with punishing employers so that there was less incentive to become an illegal immigrant and that increased and streamlined legal immigration.

    But in the meantime, I think that the church’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is a wise move in keeping with our church’s mission. I wonder to what extent the church even knows if its members are legal or not?

  69. INS no longer exists–the enforcement arm of Homeland Security is called ICE (wonderful acronym, isn’t it?)–Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It’s not altogether clear how ICE operates, but . . .

    ICE states that its priorities are (1) “criminal aliens”, which unlike what the ignorant think are not those who have overstayed visas or entered the country “without inspection,” but aliens, no matter their immigration status, who have been convicted of crimes, and (2) aliens with outstanding orders of removal–in other words, those who have already had their day in immigration court and been ordered deported, but who ignored that order. Still, ICE seems to look for easy pickings–hang out at the bus station and check people’s papers. Or, go to an address looking for someone on their “priority” list, but find nobody there, so do some random doorbell ringing around the neighborhood in the hopes that they might find somebody to haul in.

    As others have said, overstaying a visa is not a crime. Those who call undocumented aliens “felons” are either ignorant (I suspect this is the overwhelming majority of the anti-immigrant rabble–see, for example, Lou Dobbs) or they’re misapplying criminal laws about identity theft to ratchet up the charges against people who are simply working without authorization. (Try thinking hard about that for a while: working without authorization. Damn, what criminals! They’re working! Oh, the humanity!)

    There is a bill that has been introduced again in this Congress to provide relief for children brought to the U.S. before 16 years of age–it’s called the DREAM Act. It would permit those in that category who have graduated from high school or who are currently in college, who have “good moral character”–meaning they haven’t been convicted of any crimes–to obtain legal status. Similar legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, and in both houses the bills have been referred to the Judiciary Committees for consideration. For details, check out http://thomas.loc.gov and search for DREAM Act. Call your senators and representatives and urge them to join as co-sponsors of that legislation and to work for its passage.

  70. Hurray! Something we can actually do! Thanks, Mark B.

  71. policies that began with punishing employers so that there was less incentive to become an illegal immigrant

    Surely you must be kidding. You want to punish people for working? Or punish employers for hiring people? Wouldn’t it make more sense to punish people for not working? Or to punish people who try to get rich without working? Or punish employers for taking advantage of workers–essentially blackmailing them because of their immigration status?

    Sadly, the only thing that “employer sanctions”–first introduced in 1986–have accomplished is to raise the costs to employers of hiring undocumented workers, which means less pay for those workers and poorer working conditions. It’s time to recognize that they don’t work, and be rid of them once and for all.

  72. Wake up Brad (#56), Illegal immigration is a felony offense in Arizona. It is also a federal felony to assist illegal aliens due to personal convictions. So while I may be legal because I was born here, knowingly assisting my brother and parents who are here illegally makes me guilty of a felony.

    Believe it.

  73. Alvin T,

    As I understand it, the bill that would have made it a felony to be an undocumented immigrant in AZ was vetoed. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

  74. Kelly Ann says:

    Interesting discussion. I don’t think we can ever live all the laws of the land, but I think we should try. I also think there are major and minor violations.

    I think immigration is major. I don’t think the church should rat people out but I am slightly appalled that they knowingly let undocumented workers serve missions. The idea of baptism doesn’t bother me as much as to give them a position where they “represent the Lord”.

    In regards to the comparison to the cohabitation (why not require them to change first), that is actually the reverse situation. Rather than an illegal action that the church doesn’t consider a sin, it is a legal action that the church considers a sin. In the US it is true that if cohabitating one must marry before baptism, however, in Chile (when I served my mission) when divorce was illegal, couples cohabitating could be baptized and could serve in leadership positions. However, they could not be sealed in the temple. I taught a couple in this situation that had to have a special interview before baptism. I always was a bit puzzled by this. Talk about complexity …

  75. Kelly Ann says:

    This was why the church encouraged legalized divorce in this country.

  76. Anne (UK) says:

    I’m perplexed by this.

    I have every sympathy for a missionary who finds himself in a situation of having been brought into a country illegally by his parents, having grown up here, having lived a good life, then wants to serve a mission.I’m sure this young man is a good boy. He’s a victim of circumstances not of his making, but, he is still technically an illegal immigrant, isn’t he?

    The point I don’t understand is, how do you square this with being honest in all your dealings? I beat myself up every recommend interview trying to remember any instances when I have unintentionally misled, or underpaid, or whatever, and at the same time the Church is condoning – indeed, actively encouraging- keeping people in these circumstances (in this case quite literally) under the radar by having them travel to internal mission areas by circuitous routes, and so on?

    I’m genuinely baffled by this, because my entire Church life I have been taught AofF 12 takes precedence. for example, here, law dictates that temple marriage must be preceded by civil marriage as temple marriages are not recognised by law. Can we start ignoring that one, too? And if not, why not? Where’s the consistency? Either Aof F 12 is inspired, or it isn’t, surely?

    The Church here recently ended up in a mess for ignoring Child Protection laws, and had to change procedures very fast in order to avoid further legal consequences. Turns out we did have to abide by them after all.

    I hope the young man is ok after all this. he’s been hit with a double whammy, innocent victim of the actions of many others.

  77. What ever happened to”Law”? My ancestors emigrated legally, payed taxes, obeyed the law and integrated themselves into society while maintaining thier cultural identity. Good he got busted. he broke the law. Nothing against him serving a mission just every action and choice has a consequence.

  78. Peter LLC says:

    25: It does not behoove LDS U.S. citizens to demand strict compliance with U.S. immigration and visa laws.

    Especially when some of them flaunted the immigration rules of the countries in which they served their missions. As ward mission leader in a Western European country, I’m aware of multiple cases of non-compliance with local and EU law by US missionaries whose misdeeds go unpunished because of generous leeway granted to Americans as “good” foreigners here.

  79. Peter LLC says:

    74: The idea of baptism doesn’t bother me as much as to give them a position where they “represent the Lord”.

    76: Where’s the consistency? Either Aof F 12 is inspired, or it isn’t, surely?

    77: What ever happened to”Law”?

    As one who was tried and convicted himself, perhaps Christ has better answers than any of us here.

  80. 77:

    Since most ancestors of Latter-day Saints in the U.S. entered the country when there were essentially no laws regulating immigration, it’s a safe bet that obeying that non-existent law wasn’t too difficult.

    I suspect that you meant “immigrated.” Other that the old Soviet bloc countries, most countries have not had restrictions on emigration.

    Finally, as Dickens’s Mr. Bumble said, “The Law is a ass–an idiot.” He wasn’t talking about the Immigration and Nationality Act, but only because he died long before it became law.

  81. #71 –

    No, actually, I’m not kidding. I don’t think it is good to have illegal employment going on. I think it keeps wages down and leaves a lot of workers unprotected. What we need are more legal immigrants who are working legally.

    However, illegal immigration will continue so long as employers will hire illegal immigrants. The solution seems to me not to permit illegal hiring but to ensure that we admit enough legal immigrants that these jobs are filled. I’m all about more, easier, legal immigration.

  82. I must say, if I was an antagonist anti-Mormon reading this blog post my position that Mormons are liars would be proven. So far we find that LDS history and the current attitude toward immigration law (in the U.S. and other places) shows that Mormons continue to break the law and lie if it helps them. Also, are not Mormons acting as the agents of the Government when they are required by law to bring abuse to the attention of the authorities? It might be said that the law forces the hand in the case of abuse, but then I don’t see anyone questioning the rightness of said law. The argument might then be that abuse is harmful and therefore nothing to discuss, but there are those who insist that illegal immigration is also harmful.

    As for following the prophets, I do not see this as a case of them making a statement about immigration that members need to follow. They have not talked about the proper behaviors and actions toward the law in Conference for instance. Therefore, as a “follow the prophets” kind of person I find it proper to question what is happening. The Church has made it clear, for instance, their position on abortion (I hold to a stricter position and acknowledge that) and homosexuality. They have said little about immigration issues. Their actions in relation to scripture and law becomes open to discussion and questions.

  83. GeoffJ:

    Chapter and Verse:
    ARS 13:2319 – Targeted toward the coyotes, also criminalizes the human cargo. Used successfully to convict a man of smuggling himself into the state – plenty of information on the web – do a google search.
    8 U.S.C. 1325: Illegal entry into the United States -punishable by 6 months for first offense,
    8 U.S.C. 1326: Re-entry after deportation – 2 years in prison.
    8 U.S.C. 1327: Assisting a criminal alien to enter the U.S. – up to 10 years.

    I heartiliy recommend fairus.org to anyone wanting to inform themselves of the laws and the ways they have been interpreted by the courts, and have a serious conviction toward changing them.

  84. Peter LLC says:

    For all proponents of legalism I have a suggestion: read the article.

    If you do, you will discover that:
    U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah inserted language into a 2005 agricultural bill that absolves religious organizations of criminal liability for allowing their undocumented members to perform volunteer service, including mission work.

    Wailing and gnashing of teeth is most appropriately directed at your elected leaders.

  85. My, my, my — I see a lot of serious murmuring against the brethren going on by the anti-immigration crowd in this thread…

  86. Alvin,
    Overstaying your visa is still not a violation of criminal statute and you’re still wrong. Believe it.

  87. Jettboy,
    History is history and facts is facts. 19th-century Deseret was a colony of illegal immigrants (as was Jamestown). The Church aids and abets illegal immigration (and other modest forms of bending or breaking the law) insofar as such actions further the purposes of the kingdom. If it doesn’t jive with your own sensibilities about strict adherence to immigration law as an untrumpable moral imperative, I’m sure you can find people out there who share your fervor for having an undocumented-free church and community.

  88. I see a lot of serious murmuring against the brethren going on by the anti-immigration crowd in this thread…

    Some of whose blogs find themselves on the Murmur Free Mormon Blog Aggregator. SHOCK!

  89. Regarding Ray’s followup comment about helping members “get legal” — I have attended regional welfare and employment training for stake and ward leaders where “Resolving Immigration Issues” was a workshop topic, taught by an immigration attorney.

    If Elder Holland (and by extension, the FP and the Q12) don’t have a problem with it, I don’t either. But maybe we should go ask “Elder” Glenn Beck what he thinks about it…

  90. The church I grew up in, served a mission in, and followed faithfully all my adult life would not stoop to playing the technicalities of the law by aiding and abetting under the protection of a clause thrown in the Farm Bill by a Utah Senator.
    My only reconciliation is to tell myself that we have the church I cling to and another animal I call the “institutional church” that can justify their actions while claiming that “he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.”
    Doesn’t the Holy Ghost tickle just a little when they make these special accommodations to avoid the law?
    No, I don’t expect the church to assume the role of Immigration agents, but I do expect the leaders to live the principles they teach.
    This is clearly the institutional church practicing situational ethics.
    And I must stand up to those who say it is SO HARD to come here legally, especially from Mexico. We issue over 140,000 green cards a year to Mexican citizens, more than any other nation in the world.
    Our immigration levels (legal) ought to be 250,000, but we admit ONE MILLION.
    If you would like to study immigration policy, I’d be glad to advise you. I have learned that it is far worse than I could have imagined.

  91. Since this is a policy issue for the Church, I’ll ask some questions.

    Priesthood ordination for all worthy men/young men was a policy change in 1978. If a member prior to this were to think that restrictions were bad, were they in apostasy? What about a day, a minute, or a second before the change? Do they need to repent since the brethren had not yet said “it’s okay?” Not allowing discussions on difficult policy issues is (a big) part of the reason why people call the Church a cult.

    If you still follow the policy but question it, are you in apostasy? If so, I have a question about how changes happen. If an apostle questions, are they in apostasy? If so, how do they talk about changing policies? No jokes about the BYU mistake on the “twelve apostates.” And are the apostles and FP the only ones who can do this? If not, how far down the hierarchy does this go?

    Finally, if you have a problem breaking laws, can you refuse to participate in helping these missionaries avoid being caught? If you do so on your conscience, are you in apostasy? Elder Holland after all says in the Trib. article that we’re always trying to be absolutely lawful.

  92. “This is clearly the institutional church practicing situational ethics.”

    You should read about Nauvoo sometime. Or the, say, 4 decades following the first passage of federal antibigamy legislation.

    If things are far worse than even you could imagine, it sounds to me like people really do need you to tell them just how bad it is. If your criticism of the Church here is rooted in a categorical distinction between an ephemeral, ideal Church and the flawed Church as an institution managed by flawed, mortal men, might I suggest you check out guest posting at any number of conservative faithful LDS blogs where such nuanced reasoning is always welcome and never associated with tares, the seeds of apostasy, evil-speaking, or wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing. As Ronan mentioned, there’s even an aggregator for such righteous blogs (which, as should be obvious to all, does not include the this blog).

  93. Sheriff Bull Connors felt very strongly about enforcing laws about marching without a permit.

    I had a investigator on my mission whose only hang up about Joseph Smith was that he had been arrested so many times. After all, only bad people break the law and go to jail. This simplistic thinking made me giggle, but I didn’t think much about it because she was an oft confused person.

  94. Thank you, Brad, for the comment. FYI, I know far too much about Nauvoo. And cohabitation.
    Unfortunately, unlike yourselves, I have not received my training filtered.
    I’ll not trouble this group any longer.

  95. Whether Alien Rants knows anything about immigration policy is an open question, but it’s quite clear that he knows nothing about the law. Herewith, a primer.

    Section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act makes it a crime to “transport[] or move[] . . . or harbor[] within the United States” any person who has entered or who remains in the United States in violation of law. An amendment to that section, added at the sponsorship of Sen. Bennett, says that it is not a violation of those provisions for a religious denomination to “encourage, invite, call, allow, or enable an alien who is present in the United States to perform the vocation of a minister or missionary for the denomination . . . , notwithstanding the provision of room, board, travel, medical assistance, and other basic living expenses . . . .”

    Therefore, there is no aiding and abetting by the church. There is no bending of the law. The law permits what the church does, and it is therefore legal for the church to do what it does. So, Alien Rants can get off his high horse and stop worrying that the brethren are violating either the laws of God or of man. But, AR, don’t hide behind the weasel words “institutional church.” What you’re really saying is that you, AR, know better than President Monson and the rest of the First Presidency and the Twelve what constitutes an appropriate response to the immigration law difficulties that many of our brothers and sisters face. Be man enough to come out and call a spade a spade.

    That 140,000 green cards a year are issued to people of Mexican descent is completely irrelevant to the issue of whether obtaining one is hard, or whether that is the “right” number. Usually a suggestion that the number of immigrant visas/green cards issued to Mexicans is too high is simply thinly veiled anti-Mexican bigotry. Again, if that’s your position, have the cojones to come out and say it.

  96. Thanks, Mark B.

    I’ll be waiting for the first case from “My Leaders are Wrong on Immigration” crowd to publicly name names on a blog as to which members of the 12 and FP are mistaken…

  97. Peter LLC says:

    90: Doesn’t the Holy Ghost tickle just a little when they make these special accommodations to avoid the law?

    Not when “they” are duly elected representatives of the people engaged in a legitimate legislative process.

  98. Alien Rants: The church I grew up in, served a mission in, and followed faithfully all my adult life would not stoop to…

    Well no doubt the Lord misses you. Remember, President Monson has invited you and all others who have become offended/disaffected and left the church over petty issues to come back and feast at the table of the Lord.

  99. 80. My non-LDS people came from Poland in 1912 and were processed through Ellis Island and gained their citizenship lawfully.

  100. It used to be that coming to America meant giving up economic security for risk, hard work and a step down the economic ladder and a step up to more freedom.

    That has changed. I’m glad it has, but it changes all sorts of dynamics.

  101. 99. That’s wonderful, Tom. And the only laws restricting immigration in 1912 were those prohibiting the immigration of the diseased, the insane, criminals and those who had an offer of employment before embarking. Oh, and polygamists. And Chinese.

    That’s why Ellis Island was so fearsome–people were nervous that they’d flunk the medical inspection and be returned home.

    But, other than that, the door was wide open, and if you could pay your passage, you could immigrate.

    So, the “my ancestors came in legally, why can’t those filthy [fill in your favorite group of foreigners] do the same?” argument is just not worth squat.

  102. Well at least we know Tom didn’t descend from criminally insane diseased Chinese polygamists now. (Yes, I’m as surprised as the rest of you)

  103. I have several relatives who’ve spent their careers enforcing immigration law at both northern and southern borders. A first time offender who crosses without inspection is still subject to the penalty of 6 months in jail followed by deportation. Someone who re-crosses the border illegally after being deported is guilty of a felony.

    In order to work in this country, an employee must sign an I-9 swearing under penalty of perjury that they are authorized to work here. An illegal alien who signs his/her name to that form just committed a felony. State and Federal law also prohibit presenting a stolen or fraudulent identity for employment, which are also felonies.

    I struggle with the concept of the church leaders knowingly ignoring Federal law in order to welcome illegal aliens as converts and as missionaries. I know of instances where members have been asked to employ illegal aliens (ie the landscaping company that Mitt Romney was asked to employ by his Stake President).

    I really don’t understand how an illegal alien can look a Bishop in the eye and answer that they are being honest in their dealings if they are simultaneously breaking numerous laws.

    I do agree that a minor child brought here illegally by his/her parents doesn’t bear any responsibility for their actions…. until they turn 18. At that time they need to make a choice of either rectifying their legal situation or continuing to live in the shadows and being forced to break further laws in order to remain.

    To me it’s no different than a young adult learning that the inheritance he had received was stolen years ago by his father and making a choice between being honest and doing the honorable, difficult thing (giving it back), or continuing to enjoy it and hoping that the authorities don’t catch on. I would think that God would look more favorably on those who follow the harder path, but live an honest life.

    There are avenues that would allow them to leave temporarily and obtain a student visa, allowing them to return as a student and have the hope of a work permit, later green card and eventually even citizenship. To legally serve as a missionary they could leave and request an R1 Visa, granted to church volunteers.

    With regards to the so-called “foreign culture”, I doubt that a first generation child of immigrants from another country would be completely ignorant of the language and customs of their parents. From what I see, the first generation seems to learn very little English, even after 20 years and relies on their children to translate.

  104. My son is currently serving in the mission this fine missionary served in and was one of his companions.
    A better man and more dilligent missionary would be difficult to find. According to my son, the missionaries who served with this fine elder are deeply shocked and saddened at this turn of events.

    Our family is praying for the compassionate treatment of this young servant of the Lord, and hope that the legislation previously enacted (in 2005) to protect those in his very situation is reviewed by the authorities and reconciled with his abysmal treatment. The authorities who arrested him were acting beyond the law, not in accordance with the law.

    It is really pretty simple, we are to follow the prophet.

  105. Lisa, if you are following this thread, please send me an e-mail at fam7heav at juno dot com. I would love to know which missionary is your son – as there is a good chance he is attending the same building as I do in my home ward. If so, I will say hello to him for you.

  106. re: Lisa

    You do realize that the 2005 law does nothing to protect the illegal alien missionary from deportation or other penalties for his illegal presence? It only prevents the government from suing or fining the church for sending him on a mission.

    You should also know that if your son ever drove a car where this missionary was a passenger and had been pulled over, he could have been subjected to the Federal Immigration laws against transporting/harboring illegal aliens. The 2005 law would not offer any protection to companions, just the institution of the church.

  107. Mark Brown says:

    Buffalo Springfield was right. Paranoia runs deep.

  108. Hey Darren,

    Lisa had it right: “It is really pretty simple, we are to follow the prophet.”

  109. Please provide a quote from President Monson instructing the members of the church to ignore immigration law then, or at least one General Conference talk where we are instructed that it is OK to be dishonest or break laws if we can justify it .

    I took this issue (the church baptizing and giving callings/recommends to illegal aliens) to my local Bishop and he read to me the 12th Article of Faith and D&C 58 (members of the church should obey the laws of the land). He is unaware of any policy that would allow him to extend a calling or temple recommend to an illegal alien, and doesn’t believe that the church would send a missionary out, knowing that he was illegal.

    I also tried calling the church public relations department and was told that the church absolutely does not support illegal immigration and that anyone who says otherwise is incorrect.

    It appears the be an instance where the mainstream members of the church are taught one thing (obey the law, be honest) and the foreign-language wards within the states containing vast numbers of illegals are being told something different. There have been numerous instances where both groups have gotten together and it usually results in contention, since neither side is hearing a consistent message.

  110. timeline question says:


    You started commenting here at 10:14PM. You submitted your last comment at 11:11PM.

    You took this issue to your Bishop and contacted the church’s public relations department when? I want the Bat Phone you’ve got.

    Anyone else see a troll here?

  111. This is clearly the institutional church practicing situational ethics.

    Unlike the scriptures, which clearly teach, for example, that it is always wrong to kill a man and take his property, especially if he is unconscious and helpless — oh wait. Um, never mind.

  112. I live abroad and am required to get a new visa every 1-6 months. It is actually quite a lot of work and gets rather confusing after a while. While my visa hasn’t lapsed, I have friends who have technically been “illegal” for months on end without even realizing it. It’s really easy to do.

    At one time I had a single entry visa valid until Feb 13, and a multiple entry visa valid until January 30. The multiple entry visa (that I got after the single entry visa) invalidated the single entry visa. So even though the single entry visa technically expired after the multiple entry visa it ended up expiring before. If that’s not confusing, tell me what is. I had to deal with that every month for the first semester and a half I was out of the country.

    I was so happy when I was finally approved for a student visa. That only has to be renewed every 6 months.

    Anyway, my point is that maintaining a valid visa can be trickier than it seems and cases like this should be looked on with charity rather than with judgment unless you’re willing to cast the first stone.

  113. Nancy: cases like this should be looked on with charity rather than with judgment unless you’re willing to cast the first stone

    There apparently are plenty of nutters in the church that would be thrilled to huck the first stone.

  114. Charity is is pretty short supply in these here parts now isn’t it? Loving one another was the first commandment, makes one think that without that one thing, we are lost even with perfect conformance to the “law”. Scripture backs it up.

    Mercy is in pretty short supply here too, but as long we are embracing and loving and enforcing the commandments we like best, i guess we are ok…Right?

    We will be granted the same mercy we granted to others…
    good luck with that.

    I don’t know how to provide a link to this article, but it may give a little more information on the church’s stance, if you are willing to take a 70’s word for it, or Mark Tuttle, the Church’s spokesman.

    Dennis Romboy Deseret Morning News “Debate resumes over illegal immigrants’ status in LDS Church”. Deseret News (Salt Lake City). FindArticles.com. 26 Apr, 2009. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20080215/ai_n21416917/

  115. What does my start time for posting on this site have to do with anything? I’ve been aware of the church’s contradictory stance on illegal immigration since 2004 when I was accosted by a group of Spanish speaking LDS members at the Utah state Capitol. I had submitted testimony prepared by my father (the deputy chief border patrol agent over the Northern border) to a legislative committee which was contemplating whether or not illegal aliens should receive drivers licenses. My father had just testified before Congress on a similar issue and wanted to provide some information to the committee, but had a conflict and was unable to personally attend.

    After the meeting ended several people who had begged to committee to allow illegal aliens to have licenses approached me and accused me of being an unworthy Latter Day Saint and told me that my words had been in conflict with the Gospel and that if I wasn’t careful I would be removed from the church. I told them it was my understanding that the Gospel supported the rule of law and that breaking it and being dishonest were not in harmony with the Gospel. They told me that in their Wards, they had Bishops and other leaders who were illegal aliens and that the church had no problem with anyone’s legal status. I told them I found that hard to believe, considering that callings and temple recommends were based on worthiness and honesty. They were pretty angry about this issue and adamant in their understanding of what they church was teaching them. I ended up having to resort to my Spanish ability (from my mission in Spain) to calm some of them down.

    I was confused by the exchange and then did bring it up with my Bishop, asking him whether or not the church had a stand supporting illegal immigrants. That is when he quoted the scriptures I mentioned before. During the last Utah legislative session, after some Latino members of the church publicly stated on KSL that the church supported illegal immigration, I asked my current Bishop and phoned the church PR department and was told by both that it did not. Now this latest story about the illegal alien missionary has come out which confuses the issue even more. I asked my Bishop about it today at church, since we have had other conversations, and he was sure that the article must have been mistaken.

  116. Darren:

    Assuming this story is legit,

    1) You have a Bishop who isn’t aware of political practices. So what?

    2) You asked the Church if it “supports illegal immigration”. Seriously? That’s what you asked? Wow.

    It’s clear, based on your father’s occupation and your comments, that you are adamantly opposed to illegal immigration. It’s obvious you disagree with this practice of the Church. Fine. We agree to some extent, at least philosophically, about illegal immigration – in a vacuum; we disagree about this practice. Fine. I’d just be careful throwing around the type of charges you are throwing around based on Bishops not knowing political issues very well and questions about the Church “supporting illegal immigration”. In this situation, those actually are two really weak arguments – since the former is irrelevant and the latter is horrible wording.

  117. Darren,

    The first time I heard about this kind of policy was in 1982. A letter — I suppose it may have been from the First Presidency, but I’m not sure — was read over the pulpit in my (English speaking) ward in San Diego. It said more or less that immigration status in the USA is irrelevant from the Church’s point of view.

    So it’s a long-standing policy. But it’s not the same as “supporting illegal immigration” as you put it. The Church’s policy is simply that the Church doesn’t regard immigration status as a Church issue.

  118. Darren: Now this latest story about the illegal alien missionary has come out which confuses the issue even more.

    It shouldn’t be all that confusing. The church’s policy is to allow undocumented immigrants to serve in the church all they want. Nothing too confusing about that.

    If you have a problem with that you should take it up with the brethren. Who knows — maybe they will be thrilled another ark steadier like you telling them how to administer their callings…

  119. There’s a lot of anger back and forth on this with both sides insisting they are more righteous than the other. As someone who agrees with both sides of the issue, I’m not sure where I fall.

    I think we should obey the law and be honest in our doings and I fully acknowledge I break the law plenty of times, and do other things like avoid paying taxes on as much as possible by deducting legitimate business expenses (pc for home office that also gets used for home photos, camera for business purposes that also gets used on vacations, etc.)

    So I acknowledge that I’m not perfect and I’m not the least bit interested in following a strict law of Moses as the church is concerned nor as the legal system is concerned.

    But I still strive to follow the laws, not only when it is convenient, but where it is also inconvenient. At the same time I probably cut corners both out of ignorance at times and willfully at others.

    And I’d be willing to pick up my guns and revolt against the US if it ever became necessary as well — an action which I suppose would be illegal.

    Jumping into immigration I agree that the church shouldn’t enforce immigration policy, but I also agree that the church shouldn’t encourage people to break immigration laws.

    If your here illegally (or “undocumented” if you want to use a strange euphemism to make yourself feel better, but hey I don’t own any assault rifles, just semi automatics) then you should do your best to get legal. Which many people do.

    But it’s very difficult at best, and nearly impossible at worst. So what’s better? Making sure your family has good opportunities, a healthy up bringing, etc. or making sure you have the right stamp in your passport?

    What’s more important, getting to the office 5 minutes earlier or violating traffic laws put in place to save lives?

    Ultimately, I think most people would agree and be happy with the following:

    – Easy / Loose immigration laws for people who want to come and live and work in a legal and orderly manner who contribute to society.
    – Backed by some requirement to learn or be presently engaged in taking English classes
    – A desire to assimilate into the culture, not throwing away your traditions, but bringing them with you and also embracing new ones of the US and incorporating them into your own
    – A very strict policy that swiftly removes anyone violating serious laws (Drugs, violence, theft)
    – No eligibility welfare benefits until you’ve lived here and paid taxes for a certain amount of time showing you’re a productive member of society (maybe 2 years? to prevent further overload of our already overloaded health, welfare, etc. services)

    Generally I’d be happy with a policy that looks like the above or similar to it in some regard.

    If you’re a good person and working hard and contributing and desiring to melt into the pot (adding some of your own ethnic spices, who doesn’t like chipotle peppers) then I’m ok.

    The current system stinks. The current diatribes back and forth are useless and only serve to prevent not only compomise but effective progress.

  120. My biggest problem with the whole “the Church supports or encourages illegal immigration” charge is that it’s so ridiculous. The Church teaches and preaches and baptizes and ordains and sends on missions in and from every country where it is allowed to do so. It adds to its membership wherever the people are who want to join its ranks. Here in America, it’s not breaking ANY law in doing so – not one.

    It no longer baptizes in other countries and then encourages members to come here illegally. It actually encourages them to stay in their native lands and build the kingdom there. How in the word that can be termed as “supporting” or “encouraging” illegal immigration baffles me. If it will baptize people wherever it finds people, and send them on missions (legally) from whatever country in which they live. These people are already here. The Church didn’t bring them here or influence their decision in any way . . . I simply don’t see “support” or “encouragement” for illegal immigration going on.

  121. Chuck McKinnon says:

    Having read all 120 comments so far, I’m surprised by those who seem unwilling to admit that one might disagree in good faith with their position on illegal immigration: Geoff J, Ardis and Mark B in particular. Your position is not strengthened by mocking those who disagree with you and insinuating that they privately espouse extreme positions they did not articulate.

    That this particular missionary outstayed his visa is immaterial, as is his personal character; both church and government policies are targeted at the general case, which is what we’re arguing here.

    I see two problems with sending undocumented immigrants on missions. The first is the ability to answer the temple recommend question about honesty in one’s dealings. In the modern church, I can’t think of another law one can openly flout (as in, acknowledge it to one’s bishop in a recommend interview) and still go to the temple — particularly if that lawbreaking requires ongoing deceit and maybe perjury. It’s one thing to admit undocumented immigrants to fellowship in a local congregation; it’s quite another to send them out as official representatives of the church in a country where they illegally reside.

    The second problem, a larger one for me, is that if the Church intended to take a principled stand against current U.S. immigration law and the untenable situations it can create, one would expect us to share the risks as well as the benefits of missionary service with our undocumented brothers and sisters. As things stand, both the individual and the church benefit from the missionary’s service, but if the missionary is found out, he or she bears the consequences alone. That local help may be forthcoming is (again) not the point; the point is that the missionary faces statutory penalties while the church that sent him faces none. Sending these missionaries out increases their exposure — their risk of being caught — and that’s a risk the Church has steadfastly refused to share; we only began sending undocumented immigrants on missions once Senator Bennett’s agricultural bill rider passed into law. Whatever the real intent, it gives the appearance of being an opportunistic position rather than a principled one.

    I am in sympathy with those who seek a better life for their children. If I were raising my kids in desperate circumstances I could see myself doing anything, violating any immigration statute, to secure them the hope of a better future. But hard cases make bad law. In the modern law-and-order church (it’s not the nineteenth century anymore, Ardis) I think members are justified in asking why the Church apparently turns a blind eye to this one class of lawbreaking and to no other.

  122. 121: I’m proud to be singled out — especially in the company of Geoff J and Mark B. — as being on the opposite side of the issue from Chuck McKinnon. There is little that could have done more to reassure me of the correctness of my earlier comments.

  123. Thomas Parkin says:

    I think we should abolish borders and all live together in Peace. God didn’t draw any borders – the Man did that to us.

    Also, I think BCC should be given admittance to the faithful blog aggregator.

    Hahaha. Oh, I kill me. ~

  124. Is marriage to a citizen still a pathway to legal US residency and eventual citizenship? If so, ought we/the Church encourage its undocumented adult singles to marry sooner rather than later – and to US citizens?

  125. I stand with #121.
    #123: God stands by borders all the time. See: “Land of….”.
    #124: Again, only a work around to break the Nations laws.

  126. I am in sympathy with those who seek a better life for their children. If I were raising my kids in desperate circumstances I could see myself doing anything, violating any immigration statute, to secure them the hope of a better future. But hard cases make bad law. In the modern law-and-order church (it’s not the nineteenth century anymore, Ardis) I think members are justified in asking why the Church apparently turns a blind eye to this one class of lawbreaking and to no other.

    Sure, ask away, but I think you already answered the question with the first two sentences of that paragraph.

  127. Peter LLC says:

    only a work around to break the Nations laws

    So you’re saying that marriage, which in the US includes temple marriage, between holders of different colored passports is nothing but a ruse? Incredible and, frankly, offensive.

  128. Ardis, be patient with Chuck McKinnon – assuming he’s the very same Chuck McKinnon formerly of the Bow Valley Ward.
    I remember fondly Chuck at the pulpit in our ward (heavily populated with young married students), explaining that he was following Spencer W. Kimball’s counsel to “live together in love, and let the children come”, and how strongly he felt about the evils of birth control. Needless to say, everyone woke up in a hurry, not quite believing that this was happening in sacrament meeting! We still laugh about that.
    But he was a big help to us on one particular occasion, and we are still grateful.

  129. From my T&S post.

    “I am with Ray. I care more about the elder then the immigration laws. If I was in a position to help him I would. As LDS folks our loyalty should be to this elder. He just put aside his life and went and served the kingdom. Most likely he left on his mission when he was 19 and most likely his parents brought him here when he was 2-17. He is not exactly a serious criminal since he was a minor when he made his illegal entry most likely.

    I wonder what the long term implications will be for illegal immigrants and the missionary program. This may force a change for illegal immigrants serving. We were kind of getting away with allowing undocumented missionaries to serve inside the US before this incident

    As all of you know I am a cultural conservative and am opposed to comprehensive immigration reform but my covenants & loyalties to the Lord and his Kingdom and his servants like this elder over-ride any of my political leanings”

    On a more practical note. It would be a political/religious disaster for the LDS church to take a stand against illegal immigrants. It would play right into our critics hands that we hate people of color. You can kiss goodbye LDS progress in Central and South America if this occurs

  130. I served a foreign mission. Because of delays in getting a work permit, I served in the US for a month after the MTC until my permit cleared. We followed the laws of the country.

    We also hear stories in conference about the church following the laws of various countries and ultimately being blessed for it: ie. temple in East Germany, BYU center in Israel, etc. These faith-promoting stories always quote Joseph Smith and the 12th article of faith.

    The thing that is astounding to me in this board is the support for flagrant violation of our own country’s laws. I’m not arguing for or against current immigration laws. I’m not denying that everyone on the earth is my brother or sister. I’m not saying that the “prophet is wrong”. I’m just saying that the church can’t have it both ways.

    I am also completely baffled how someone can answer that they are honest when the whole premise of being in this country is a lie. To me, that would preclude going to the temple. No one is perfect. If we were, no one would go to the temple. I repent every day. Repentance, however, means changing what is wrong. The only way to change the status of “illegal alien”, is to make yourself legal.

    The church is NOT the INS. I agree with that. However, is it too much to ask that our representatives are at least honest people?

  131. I’m not going to be nice if I enter this discussion, and I’ll say something that I’m going to regret. So let me say, I side with all the people who feel that the immigration laws are poorly thought out, poorly drafted, and applied in a poor manner.

    I’m not in a position to break the immigration laws, inasmuch as I was fortunate enough to be born in the U.S. Because I cannot conscientiously object to them by disregarding unjust laws, all I can do is object vocally and incessantly whenever I hear about the unjust laws applied unjustly. So again, let me second all those people who say this situation is a travesty, as is the application of these laws in many other situations.

  132. #127: I can’t tell if you are agreeing with me or not?
    The ” ruse”, is in #124..not my comment. I am not even sure there is a “Temple marriage” in the USA (?) Rather a civil marrage done, followed be a sealing(?) But I am happy to let it be called a “Temple Marriage”.
    Again, I am not happy with a marriage to only become a citizen of the USA.

  133. 101: Perhaps but you overlooked becoming citizens, paying taxes and becoming Americans. Not working illegally, taking jobs from citizens, not paying taxes and being a drain on society. And by the way I did not make any disparaging remarks along the lines as …

    “my ancestors came in legally, why can’t those filthy [fill in your favorite group of foreigners] do the same?”

    102: ?????

  134. Re: 130

    Maybe it is too much to ask for honest representatives, who knows? Unless you’re in a position to make those calls, it’s none of your damn business. Are you as worried about members who are guilty of more serious offenses like violating a building code to finish off a basement or who water their lawns in areas where there are watering restrictions? Such flagrant dishonesty cannot be tolerated, can it??!?!? After all, a man who does not pull a required permit to finish off his basement could not possibly qualify for a temple recommend or, worse, serve as a missionary (senior missionary or misson president)? And if such a dishonest man does find himself in the mission field, his conscience should compel him to return home and address his dishonestly finished off basement- potential converts be damned. (A finished basement may enhance the value of a home which may affect property taxes to be paid. Therefore, failure to pull a permit may be viewed a form of tax evasion, in a very strained reading of the dishonest act of intentionally avoiding pulling a building permit.)

  135. Ray Says:
    April 27, 2009 at 12:11 am


    Assuming this story is legit,

    1) You have a Bishop who isn’t aware of political practices. So what?

    2) You asked the Church if it “supports illegal immigration”. Seriously? That’s what you asked? Wow.
    I have a Bishop who agrees with me on this issue. He sees a conflict with an illegal alien violating the laws of this land and the Gospel principles.

    I asked to church to confirm whether or not the words of the Latino leader who appeared on KSL and portrayed the church’s stance as non-nuetral was correct. The main motivation was in 2004, the church acted quickly to publicly rebuke members of an anti-illegal immigration group in Utah (UFIRE) who made public statements questioning whether or not illegal aliens were living in harmony with LDS teachings.

    The public relations representative I spoke to informed me that the statements that Clara made were incorrect, but that there would be no public statement to clarify that.

    The transcript from the interview follows:

    KSL TV – Interview Representative Glenn Donnelson and Michael Clara, Utah Republican Hispanic Assembly 2-15-08 6:40 p.m.

    Issue: Repeal of In-State Tuition HB241

    Wimmer (KSL TV): Is this bill in step with the sentiment of most Utahns do you believe?

    Clara: Well, statistically it looks like it was at one point but I think sentiments have changed especially with the LDS Church coming out against it, they were against it last year, and now we have more of a solid voice if you will from the LDS Church that they are against it, against the repeal if you will.

    Wimmer. What was your take on the call for compassion? (not verbatim)

    Donnelson: ….As I understand the article said the LDS Church has no position on this and that’s a statement from whoever is making those statements Elder Jensen or the Alliance.

    Clara: I would suggest that Rep. Donnelson read the Deseret News today it was very clear that Elder Jensen said he that was there at the assignment of the first presidency and spoke the words of the first presidency. Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the 12 was clear for the last two years in a letter saying that he is opposed to the repeal of in-state tuition so I find it curious that Representative Donnelson is now saying that the Church is neutral and that’s not the case.

    – snip –

    Donnelson: ….I called Church headquarters and asked them about the comments and they reiterated that the Church had no position on it and that they were speaking for themselves so I felt comfortable with that.

    Clara: Representative Donnelson, you and I are LDS and we know good and well that a member of the Quorum of the 12 is not going to say something that is not endorsed by the first presidency and a member of the quorum of the 70 is not going to go say that the First Presidency gave him an assignment and gave him a message to deliver so I think it is a little disingenuous of you to say that you called somebody at church headquarters and they are saying something different from what the brethren are saying.

  136. Steve Evans says:

    To generalize that undocumented aliens are “a drain on society” is a repugnant and stupid remark. Choke on those tomatoes and strawberries, on that prepackaged cut of beef. Stumble and trip on your manicured lawns.

    A pox on the hypocrites of a society that utterly depends upon undocumented aliens and yet has the audacity to disdain them as cattle. Seriously, that is amazing.

  137. The first time I heard about this kind of policy was in 1982. A letter — I suppose it may have been from the First Presidency, but I’m not sure — was read over the pulpit in my (English speaking) ward in San Diego. It said more or less that immigration status in the USA is irrelevant from the Church’s point of view.
    When my father began his career, he was stationed along the southern border and we lived in San Diego until the late 1970s. During that time the church (or at least the local Mission) had a strict policy that missionaries were not allowed to teach illegal aliens. If they encountered illegal aliens who wanted to hear the Gospel, they were told to return to their country of origin to get their legal status fixed, and then they could hear the Gospel.

    I don’t know why this would’ve changed in the 1980s. Perhaps it was related to the 1986 massive amnesty which was supposed to “Solve” the issue once and for all by giving approximately 3 Million illegal aliens status, followed by strict enforcement at the workplace against employers and illegal aliens. Unfortunately, the enforcement of laws has been haphazard at best, leading to the current problem of 20-30 Million illegals here today.

    What I have seen is corruption among church members in Utah, particularly business owners who hire (exploit) illegal aliens, using compassion to justify this breaking of law. Even the church has been caught employing illegal aliens at meetinghouse construction sites, Deseret Industries and welfare farms.

    I’m still waiting for an authoritative, doctrinal statement from the church that states it is OK to break international immigration laws, commit perjury, steal an identity and perhaps avoid paying taxes as long as you’re from a 3rd world country. I don’t think a random statement in a newspaper qualifies but is more representative as someone “speaking as a man”. I would also think that if this was really doctrinal, the church would allow this story to appear on KSL, the Deseret News or even the Church News.

  138. Unless I’ve overlooked a stray comment, I don’t believe anyone commenting in support of the church’s welcoming all to come unto Christ, whether ICE grants its blessing or no, have said anything to merit an accusation that we endorse smuggling, identity theft, crossing borders illegally, entering into false marriages, drunk driving, overstaying visas, the non-payment of taxes, “stealing jobs” (whatever that means), or lying to Church officials for the purpose of baptism, obtaining a temple recommend, serving as a missionary, taking the sacrament, or any other ecclesiastical function.

    As evidenced by multiple statements read over the pulpit, printed at LDS Newsroom, and included in the linked article at the top of this whole thread, the Church has concluded that immigration status is not a barrier to Church service. The Church may not have explained its reasoning to your satisfaction, but those with the right to make that judgment have made it. They have also determined, as explained in the article, that calling a missionary in that situation who does not have to cross a border to travel to or from his mission is not a violation of U.S. law. Again, you may not like that decision, but it is in fact legal.

    When you advocate that such missionaries not be called or that temple recommends not be issued to such persons, you attempt to usurp the authority of those whose right it is to make those judgments. When you advocate denying baptism and sacrament and callings to such persons *because of your political beliefs and flawed interpretation of U.S. law* you also advocate letting uninspired, unbaptized, non-communicant legislators, issue advocates, and politicians make sacerdotal decisions — in effect, you turn the running of the Kingdom of God over to the infidel.


  139. When you advocate that such missionaries not be called or that temple recommends not be issued to such persons, you attempt to usurp the authority of those whose right it is to make those judgments.>

    Amen Ardis. The ark steadying going on by the extreme anti-immigration crowd it over the top in this thread.

  140. I’m way late in commenting on this issue, but I am constantly reminded that Christ’s ministry, by example, was to the weak, powerless, humble, and needy. I can think of very little that is more Christlike than granting a child, who had no say in where his parents brought him or her in their quest for a better life, the opportunity to share the gospel with others.

    I again am reminded of the Savior’s story of those who were on his right hand in the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 25:

    “34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
    35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” No mention of borders there.

    We need to remember that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is universal, and to conflate this eternal gospel too closely with man-made institutions and culture is to cheapen it and ourselves in the process.

  141. RE: 134

    I agree with you. If someone knowingly does something dishonest, they should fix the problem before serving as a representative of the church. If someone is an unethical businessman, they should fix the problem. If someone illegally finishes their basement, they should fix the problem before representing my church. The spirit cannot be with that person.

    Similarly, if someone is an illegal alien, they should also fix that problem. The root of the problem is that, according to our current law, it is ILLEGAL. Until the laws of our country change, we can either support them as a church and society, or we can pick and choose which we follow. God’s house, ideally, should be a house of order. Thus, Joseph Smith’s words to “support the laws of the land”.

    We are on the same page. Thank you for your support of my position.

  142. Mike S., I have a radical idea. LET’S FIX THE LAW!!

    Its a bad law, immoral in my opinion, one that gives too many people here the undeserved assumption that they are ENTITLED to less immigration to preserve “their” job opportunities (as if the job opportunities belonged to them in some way).

    To be convinced that the strict legal approach is the best way to go, I, for one, first need to be convinced that the law has any moral basis to it in the first place!!

    Its a bad law, badly administered. Fix the law and most of this problem goes away.

  143. re: 142
    How would you suggest the law be fixed? Currently the U.S. allows over 1 Million legal visas to potential immigrants. These are awarded to people who have been waiting for years to obtain their opportunity from all across the world.

    At 1 Million per year, it exceeds to sum of all other visas granted by every other country in the world. How much would you raise this by? Would you increase this number to 2 Million, 5 Million 20 Million, 100 Million, 1 Billion? Is there any conceivable limit that might overwhelm our existing infrastructure of food/water/housing?

    Currently legal immigrants need to be disease free, self-sufficient, and free from criminal or terrorist background checks. Do you want any of these loosened up?

    The primary injustice I see is that in many cases illegal aliens are giving preferential treatment via amnesty and other support over those who do play by the rules, learn our language, pay the fees and wait patiently for their turn, which is delayed by “opportunity thieves” who choose to jump in front of the line because it is convenient for them geographically.

    There is no consistent enforcement of the law, which leads to situations where an LDS missionary is arrested for trying to board a plane, but in Salt Lake City, an illegal alien could be arrested 14 times for DUI or drug possessions, but never turned over to ICE due to political correctness.

    I support legal immigration and have personally welcomed and helped people come here from other countries. I just have a hard time with those who take the easy way out and choose to break the laws, particularly when they develop an entitlement attitude and feel that we owe them something as they take advantage of our social programs.

  144. Here’s an offer to the Mike Sses in this discussion: I promise — I really do — to sustain you fully when you are called to the Quorum of the the Twelve and thus are in the proper position to make these pronouncements.

    Until then, do you mind if I sustain Elder Holland? Pretty please?

  145. To 144:

    I also sustain Elder Holland. However, every member of this church is entitled to his/her own opinion. Even on issues as important as blacks and the priesthood, members of the Quorum of 12 were of different opinions (read David O. McKay’s biography). Brigham Young told us that no one had to take a prophet’s word for anything, but could come to it on their own. Now, everyone is required to support official policies of the church, but that doesn’t mean people have to agree. And the church has also changed it’s policies when faced with political realities (ie. polygamy – where a vision was given as to what would happen to the church if they didn’t change).

    In a similar fashion, I don’t have to agree with the laws of this country regarding immigration, taxes, or anything else. I have never claimed that the laws were right, only that they should be followed, if we claim to be a law-abiding church.

    In regards to your specific comment, I was under the impression that on a discussion board, the goal was to discuss things. People can make various arguments for/against various things. People may or may not change other peoples’ minds. But at least some degree of civility should be observed. I have not attacked anyone. I have merely tried to present a well-informed opinion. You attempts to belittle the conversation and me serve no point.

  146. Chuck McKinnon says:

    Ardis #122: Thank you for illustrating my first point; your backhanded ad hominem adds nothing to the discussion.

    Kuri #126: I respect your sympathy for the plight of the desperate, but where does one stop? Family law often favours the mother. If a man and woman divorce, and the woman absconds with the children thereby denying her husband visitation rights, can he still get a temple recommend if he consequently stops paying child support?

    The ideal of the law is to have one rule for all. Dealing with exceptional hardship on a case-by-case basis is one thing. A blanket exemption is another, and makes me very uncomfortable.

  147. If a man and woman divorce, and the woman absconds with the children thereby denying her husband visitation rights, can he still get a temple recommend if he consequently stops paying child support?

    I know one thing for certain — unless you are that person’s ecclesiastical leader it is not your decision and really none of your business.

  148. Chuck McKinnon says:

    Ardis, I apologize; #138 was a much better response. I still disagree, but 138 has substance (despite some snark). Thank you.

  149. Peter LLC says:

    132: The ” ruse”, is in #124..not my comment.

    Right. You call it a “work around”; I submit that “work around” is another way of saying “ruse.”

    I am not even sure there is a “Temple marriage” in the USA (?) Rather a civil marrage done, followed be a sealing(?) But I am happy to let it be called a “Temple Marriage”.

    Whatever happens in the temple–often colloquially referred to by members of the church as “temple marriage”–counts as a civil marriage in the US, but not in most other countries.

    The point: when you claim marriage is “only a work around to break the Nations laws” in the context of foreigners marrying US citizens in the United States, you are tarring not only the godless institution of civil marriage, but temple marriage as well.

  150. I hope this is resolved before the second coming. Jesus doesn’t have a prayer at getting a work visa. Especially after ICE realizes that he is a convicted criminal and a known rabble rouser from the Middle East. You can bet his application for a visa will be held up for years.

    And if he just bypasses the whole visa application process and descends directly from heaven to the temple in Independence, Darren will be on the phone to his bishop to make sure everyone knows he isn’t worthy of a temple recommend. It will be an ugly scene for sure.

  151. Peter LLC says:

    Similarly, if someone is an illegal alien, they should also fix that problem. The root of the problem is that, according to our current law, it is ILLEGAL.

    Mike S., the point that many have made here is that what the church and it missionaries are doing is not illegal; the church may avail itself of even illegal aliens to perform unpaid volunteer work. A missionary does not have to have to fix his or her status to volunteer since the two are as unrelated as cheese and chalk.

  152. Here’s what President Hinckley had to say about a different form of civil law matter on the Larry King show.

    President Gordon B. Hinckley’s interview with Larry King-8th Sept 1998

    LK: Are you surprised that there’s, apparently, a lot of polygamy in Utah?
    GBH: I have seen the thing grow somewhat. I don’t know how much it is. I don’t know how pervasive it is.
    LK: Should there be arrests?
    GBH: It’s matter of civil procedure. The church can’t do anything. We have no authority in this matter, none whatever.
    LK: Would you like to see the state to clamp down on it?
    GBH: I think I leave that entirely in the hands of the civil officers. It’s a civil offense. It’s in violation of the law. We have nothing to do with it. We’re totally distanced from it. And if the state chooses to move on it, that’s a responsibility of civil officers. …………
    LK: You condemn it.
    GBH: I condemn it, yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law.”

    I wonder what President Monson would say if he were appear on the Larry King show today to answer questions about the practice of sending illegal aliens out on missions.

  153. Darren,

    I think the point is that the law was explicitly amended to permit the Church, without violating the law, to send and maintain undocumented individuals on missions. So the Church is sustaining the law.

  154. Probably the same thing, Darren – that it’s a civil issue and the Church won’t break laws doing so.

  155. Peter LCC:

    You said: “A missionary does not have to have to fix his or her status to volunteer since the two are as unrelated as cheese and chalk”

    A agree with you 100% on the point you made. Anyone can volunteer for anything, regardless of any law that they have broken. That’s not my point.

    My point is whether it is ethical to answer the question: “Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow man?” in the affirmative if you are knowingly breaking the current laws of this country? Or perhaps we can shade the truth in our temple recommend interviews for the sake of a “higher cause”?

  156. Bluedevil says:

    I have a few questions and I would sincerely hope someone will have the clarity or courage to answer them.

    1. Based on comments made by Elder Jensen, Elder Ballard, and Elder Holland, it appears that illegal immigration is not perceived as being wrong by the leadership of the church. Would any of you please help me understand what other laws of this country I can feel free to disregard?

    2. More importantly, I understand that Senator Bennett wrote in language that specifically protects the church, but can someone help me understand what laws of this country I can break and then have the church help me to either avoid or evade the consequences for breaking that law or laws?

    3. While I understand that immigration is a touchy issue, why if it is not a problem for illegal aliens in this country to have the full blessings and ability to serve the church here in a country they are illegally in, why doesn’t the church have or put missionaries in countries that it would be illegal to do so? Are those of our brethren and sisters any less deserving of hearing the saving gospel of Jesus Christ?

    4. Is the church and its leadership living the letter of the law or the spirit of the law on this one? Obviously they don’t have a problem with illegal immigrants as there are numerous wards and branches that are set up solely to administer to these people, but helping missionaries that are illegal to evade the law seems to contradictory to the gospel of Jesus Christ. What other illegal activities should we be allowed to do and justify, because we are acting to further the kingdom of God or the mission of the gospel?

    Last I checked, we still believe the 12th article of faith as well as accept the 58th section of the D&C as truthful, but I guess this is a case of selective obedience, my simple question is what other activities can the brethren help us understand we can choose to selectively obey?

    Anyone? Obviously I have an issue with illegal immigration and the actions of the church on this, but I sincerely would love to have someone just answer those questions I asked, instead of throwing out more of your righteous platitudes.


  157. Steve Evans says:

    Mike S, if you answer the question in the TR interview by saying, “I generally endeavor to be honest, but I am in this country illegally,” I’ll bet you a nickel you walk out of there with your TR. That fact probably drives you nuts, but there it is.

  158. Darren @143 wrote:

    re: 142
    How would you suggest the law be fixed? Currently the U.S. allows over 1 Million legal visas to potential immigrants. These are awarded to people who have been waiting for years to obtain their opportunity from all across the world.

    Yes, and I would NOT change who is in line first. But I think we can probably vastly increase the number of immigrants. I don’t think we will be able to stem the tide of those coming illegally until we have the waiting period for a legal visa down to less than 5 years, and I would prefer to see the time on the list waiting down to less than 2 years.

    BUT, I would also try to balance that goal against a realistic look at the infrastructure required to support that immigration.

    At 1 Million per year, it exceeds to sum of all other visas granted by every other country in the world… Is there any conceivable limit that might overwhelm our existing infrastructure of food/water/housing?

    Um, I’m not sure why the fact that 1 million per year “exceeds to sum of all other visas granted by every other country in the world” is relevant. We are in our situation, and need to tailor the law to our situation, not their situation.

    Of course there is a limit, but it is significantly higher than where we are now

    Currently legal immigrants need to be disease free, self-sufficient, and free from criminal or terrorist background checks. Do you want any of these loosened up?

    I don’t know. I don’t have enough information about the effect of those restrictions to know whether they are fair or not and whether they actually benefit the U.S. in any way.

    [removed paragraph I basically agree with]

    There is no consistent enforcement of the law, which leads to situations where an LDS missionary is arrested for trying to board a plane, but in Salt Lake City, an illegal alien could be arrested 14 times for DUI or drug possessions, but never turned over to ICE due to political correctness.

    I’m much more worried about well-thought out, smart enforcement of the law instead of problems with “consistency.” When the law is so strict that no one in the chain (from ICE to prosecutors to judges) has any discretion to correct injustices or adjust for individual circumstances, there is a problem with the law.

    From what I see, the ICE piece of the puzzle is the worst. It is ICE that choses to spend time cherry-picking easy cases, such as those in the immigration courts trying to fix their immigration issues. Instead ICE should be working to identify those who are content to stay here in an illegal status, especially those who are actively involved in current criminal activity.

  159. #156: Would any of you please help me understand what other laws of this country I can feel free to disregard?

    Well there is no law against being an insufferable self-righteous twit but I bet if there was you’d disregard that one.

  160. Steve Evans says:

    Bluedevil, your answers are below, platitude-free. Enjoy.

    1. You personally cannot disregard any of the laws of the land. Your conscience will not permit you to do so.

    2. None.

    3. The Church does not put missionaries in a country illegally because the institution of the Church, the Corporation of the President, has established this policy in exchange for the good will of the countries in which we are allowed to proselytize. It is often a condition upon which our presence in a country is accepted, and were the Church to do otherwise we would swiftly find our access restricted in many nations. The history of our Church in the former Eastern Bloc nations may be instructive on this point. Of course all deserve to hear the Gospel, but our efforts to spread the Gospel internationally would be hindered, not helped, if we did not go in through the front door.

    4. The Church is living the letter of the law, which does not prohibit the religious proselytizing, baptizing or fellowshipping of undocumented aliens. Your second question in 4 relies on a false premise, that is that the Church allows and justifies undocumented aliens. It does not; it follows the law in this respect and does not harbor or employ such.

    Any more questions? I sincerely hope that you are able to understand these answers.

  161. Bluedevil, you’re coming to this conversation way too late for anybody to be willing to hold your hand and walk you through the response. Your too-clever-by-half question has been asked and answered a half a dozen times.

  162. I stand corrected. Steve Evans was feeling uncharacteristically charitable …

  163. Bluedevil says:

    -“The church’s view of someone in undocumented status is akin, in a way, to a civil trespass,” said Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, relating it to coming onto someone’s property uninvited. “There is nothing inherent or wrong about that status.”

    -Speaking on behalf of the First Presidency at the interfaith forum, Elder Jensen asked Utah lawmakers to consider proposed immigration legislation with a “spirit of compassion.” He called for a more “thoughtful and factual, not to mention humane, approach” to the issues.

    -Addressing the matter of baptism and temple rights for undocumented immigrants, Elder John C. Pingree, an Area Seventy, told the Deseret Morning News in 2005, “It’s not a problem for me.”

    -Enforcing immigration law is not the role of the church, said Elder Pingree, who served as a mission president in Mexico City.

    “This isn’t the church’s issue,” he said. “This is the government’s issue.”

    -The church, Elder Pingree said, does everything it can to encourage its members to stay in their home countries to strengthen local stakes and wards. “But once they’re here, we want to make them feel like part of the community, a valued part of the community,” he said.

    Tuttle said Thursday that statements Elder Pingree made then remain accurate.
    Until I read or hear something different coming from President Monson, it sure sounds like the Church has no problem with people breaking the law.

    Nice example from the brethren. Like I asked, what other laws can I expect the church to help cover for me, when I break them?

  164. Bluedevil (156),
    Off the top of my head, you can probably break the following laws without any significant ecclesiastical issues (1) the speed limit; (2) jaywalking; (3) (probably) illegal filesharing; (4) parking laws (including double-parking and not feeding the meter); (5) showing movies for an audience larger than your family; (6) entering your workplace’s NCAA pool; (7) littering (although this clearly makes you a bad person, and destroys large patches of ocean); and (8) along with filesharing, making other copies of copyrighted material.

    I’m not advocating that you do any of the above, but you can break the law in most, if not all, of the above-mentioned ways and keep your temple recommend. And, I would say, the moral and legal implications of at least some of the above-mentioned laws are probably pretty much on par, economically and morally, with illegal immigration. (Note that, while illegal immigration hasn’t destroyed any industries of which I’m aware, illegal filesharing has almost certainly crushed the record industry as it existed from the 30s to around 2000.)

  165. Steve Evans says:

    Apparently everyone is shocked by my charity today. Folks, it’s not complicated — Steve is a contrarian. If you’re nice, I’ll be mean. So, the fact that I am being kind and charitable in my comments should give y’all a clue.

    Bluedevil, you’ve asked your question already and I’ve answered it already. The answer is, the Church will not help you cover for any violations of law. As a policy, it does not help anyone cover for any violations of law.

  166. Bluedevil: Like I asked, what other laws can I expect the church to help cover for me, when I break them?

    I think that with that comment you are now officially guilty of aggravated jackassery. I recommend you turn yourself in immediately. (After you email the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve and rebuke them on this matter of course.)

  167. Bluedevil says:

    So even though the church and the Brethren are helping illegal aliens to live in this country illegally, serve missions, and either by their instruction or direction, help the illegal alien to evade the law, there is nothing wrong with that?

    My question still stands, “what laws can I feel free to break and THEN HAVE THE ASSISTANCE OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS, and THOSE THAT ARE ADMINISTERING IT, help me avoid the legal consequences of breaking that law?

    To my knowledge the church isn’t representing or helping people that are “(1) the speed limit; (2) jaywalking; (3) (probably) illegal filesharing; (4) parking laws (including double-parking and not feeding the meter); (5) showing movies for an audience larger than your family; (6) entering your workplace’s NCAA pool; (7) littering (although this clearly makes you a bad person, and destroys large patches of ocean); and (8) along with filesharing, making other copies of copyrighted material.”

    But they have, continue presently, and will continue to help illegal aliens live and minister in this country, with their presence being against the law.

    Is this really that difficult a question? Seriously, what laws can I break and have the church either help me or cover for me?

  168. Bluedevil, I’ve answered your questions. The church does not help illegal aliens to live in this country illegally or help them evade the law. That’s a complete fabrication. Stop with it, read my answers to you, or go away now.

  169. Bluedevil says:

    Geoff: “I think that with that comment you are now officially guilty of aggravated jackassery. I recommend you turn yourself in immediately. (After you email the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve and rebuke them on this matter of course.)”

    Who is the jack ass now? As if emailing, calling, or writing a letter to the brethren is going to solve anything. What I will get is a nice form letter instructing me to take the issue to my local priesthood leadership so they can tell me to pray for a softer heart and better understanding of the Lord’s will.

    Uh huh.

  170. #149: If you read my comment, You will see it is against the “ruse” of the #124. The Marriage done inside the Temple IS a civil one. Two kinds of unions are done. I am not “tarring” anything. God bless each of them.

  171. re 160: #4

    The church does indeed hire illegal aliens. There was a case from a couple years ago where two illegal aliens employed by the church at its welfare from in Eureka got into a fight and one was stabbed to death. The church appears on a list of organizations fined by the government for employing illegal aliens at Deseret Industries as well.

    Also the church volunteer exemption is not an amnesty for the illegal alien in question. They are still subject to deportation if caught. The church seems to understand this, since they asked an Uncle to drive from Utah to Oklahoma to transport a returning illegal alien in order to avoid possible ICE detection.

    Why wouldn’t the church use it’s connections to seek an R-1 Visa for their domestic illegal alien missionaries, allowing them to proselyte within the country as an authorized representative? That would protect all parties. By protecting itself from prosecution the church seems to be sending a message that they approve of the illegal alien status of the missionary to begin with, and would like them to remain so after.

    Even if the church resumed the old practice of asking them to leave and serve in their home countries, it would be better for the missionary, since they would learn any language or culture they were lacking before, and gain valuable contacts for their post-mission life in their homeland while they await legal entry back into the States.

  172. For all the people here for whom US law=immutable, divine law (and who, I’m sure, are completely beside themselves with outrage over unlawful wiretapping, rendition, abrogation of the geneva conventions, etc.), let me remind you:

    Joseph Smith and other Church leaders have flagrantly defied the laws of the land when they conflicted with the laws of God. Regardless of its canonization 50 years after the fact, the 12th article of faith was composed as a PR document, a distillation of basic Mormon beliefs (though by no means all of them), including attitudes toward non-Mormons and laws enacted by non-Mormons, targeting a non-Mormon audience.

    Get over it.

  173. Bluedevil says:

    Steve: The church and its leaders through either counsel, suggestion, actual action, or policy, are arranging for “below the radar” transport of illegal aliens returning or going to their missions. The church spokesman in the Tribune article made specific mention that now that ICE is checking these places, they are going to have to change everything and reevaluate.

    Are you seriously telling me that the Church and its administrators are not helping keep illegal aliens from being caught? What would you call it?

    I don’t know if they are helping the missionary with his legal troubles now that he is caught, but they surely were involved up to that point. Or am I out to lunch on this one? What about the other missionary from Oklahoma who the “local church leaders” in Utah determined his uncle needed to drive to pick him up.

  174. To my knowledge the church isn’t representing or helping people that are…

    I have bad news for you. The church is “helping” people who do all those things. In fact most every American is or has been guilty of one or more of those offenses.

    But really, if you want a comprehensive list why are you asking a bunch of strangers at a blog? You should ask the leaders of the church in SLC yourself (after you rebuke them for not obeying your wishes of course).

  175. Darren, it was my understanding of that case that the Church had verified SSNs and papers for those Eureka employees. Hadn’t heard re: D.I., although I know that there is a definite policy in place there for work authorizations.

  176. Bluedevil (169),
    You argue that the Church is advancing the interests of illegal immigrants. While you are wrong (see Steve’s various responses), so what if the Church is supporting undocumented workers in the U.S.? It seems to me that, if that were the case (and let me further emphasize that it is clearly not), then the Church is advocating civil disobedience against an unjust law. In which case (again, in hypothetical land), the Church would have your back where you broke an unjust law in the interest of seeing that law change.

    And what would constitute an unjust law in the Church’s eyes? Beats me.


  177. Bluedevil says:

    Why is it that the only defense that pro-illegal people have is to suggest those that have a problem with the Church’s involvement with it, contact Salt Lake and “rebuke” the brethren?

    We get it, you are much more righteous than the rest of us because you NEVER question anything that comes out of the mouths of the Lord’s “annointed”, but seriously, do any of you have an excuse for the Church’s actions on this, other than the usual stuff we hear?

  178. “do any of you have an excuse for the Church’s actions on this, other than the usual stuff we hear?”

    Are you really asking that on this thread? Try reading, say, 1/2 of the comments.

  179. Bluedevil, yes — I am seriously telling you that the Church and its administrators are not helping keep illegal aliens from being caught. As to your examples, I don’t know the whole story — no one here does, including yourself — but they sound to me like local folks acting without sanction from any regional or general authority. I see no evidence of any action, direct or indirect, by the Church itself.

    Look, I can understand your beef, but we’re talking about isolated incidents involving local people taking matters into their own hands. There’s no reason to take issue with the institutional Church over it. To the extent you see this as some sort of top-down systemic collaboration, yes — you are out to lunch on this one.

  180. Bluedevil, apparently Federal law prohibits imitating Smokey the Bear, and carrying wooden teeth across state lines. So there’s another couple of ideas for family home evening tonight. You can teach your kids about the thrill of breaking the law without incurring ecclesiastical repercussions, which is clearly a valuable lesson.

  181. Why is it that the only defense that pro-illegal people have is to suggest those that have a problem with the Church’s involvement with it, contact Salt Lake and “rebuke” the brethren?

    Well, hmmmm, let me take a stab at that one… Perhaps because they run the organization and are responsible for the policies of the organization? You think that might have something to do with it?

  182. Bluedevil says:

    Sam: I’m not saying the church is advancing the interests of illegal aliens. I am saying that it knows these people are in violation of criminal trespass laws, they are here illegally, and the church is helping them to stay here, serve missions, and then return from said missions. I’m sure they are doing many other things at a local level to help illegal aliens, but I don’t have any documented events to reference, so I won’t hypothesize about it.

    Your definition of an “unjust law” is exactly that, yours. It doesn’t change the fact that it is law, and SUPPOSEDLY we are subject to the laws of the land and are supposed to be honest in our dealings. Is that not the case?

    You can justify it all day long, but in the end, these people are breaking the law and the leaders of this church are helping them to do it. I am simply asking what other laws, unjust or not, can I break and expect the same type of help from the Church and its leaders?

  183. Bluedevil,
    The logic, if your enfeebled capacity for nuanced moral reasoning requires me to spell it out for you, is as follows: there are lots of important and good things. Obeying laws is one of them. So is taking care of fellow human beings (and treating them like fellow children of God). So is furthering the work of the Kingdom through mission work and other forms of Church service. If any of these or other goods come in conflict with one another, then someone (like, say, prophets, seers, and revelators) needs to make a decision about prioritizing one over the other. It appears, however maddening you and your pharisaic ilk might find this, that the leaders of the Church have decided that, when in conflict, the imperatives to build the Kingdom and care for fellow human beings trump the imperative to follow US immigration law. The sabbath was made for man.

  184. Bluedevil says:

    Steve: This is not a case of local leaders doing something. I have provided quotes from the GENERAL AUTHORITIES of this church and I can tell you this.

    My father was a mission president, one of my business partners was a mission president, and I have known several other mission presidents, as I’m sure you have.

    If a missionary farts the wrong way, Salt Lake can and usually does get notified and instructions are requested.

    If a missionary was detained at an airport because of his illegal status and another was expecting the same thing the following week, I’ll bet you an original copy of the Book of Mormon that the TOP levels of the church were in on this one.

    Please don’t insult my intelligence or that of others by suggesting that “local leaders” took things into their own hands. That rarely if ever happens in this church, and when it does, heads can and do roll.

  185. “Please don’t insult my intelligence”


    OK, Bluedevil, have it your way. You’re insisting on fabrications, so you’re gone. Bye.

  186. Bluedevil says:

    Fabrications? I would sincerely like to know what I have fabricated? Specifically, what have I said that is untrue? I’m simply stating what has been reported and not refuted.

    And as bad as the media is, obviously if Elder Holland gave an interview to the Tribune, SOMETHING happened, right?

    What is fabricated?

  187. Bluedevil,
    You misread me. I didn’t say that it is an unjust law. Instead, I said that, if you were right that the Church is helping people break the law, a simple and logical explanation is that the Church views it as an unjust law, in light of Dr. King’s view that we are responsible for breaking unjust laws.

    By your definition, as Geoff said, the Church does enable us all to break laws. I can speed as much as I want, with my Stake President in the car, and he won’t turn me in. I can confess almost any sin to my Bishop, including breaking the law (with certain statutory exceptions–I believe there is a legal duty to report child abuse and certain other violations of law) and he not only will not turn me in, he probably has a legal duty not to testify against me (depending, of course, on the state).

    I get that you don’t like immigrants. (Sorry–undocumented imigrants.) And that you don’t like the Church’s policy on undocumented immigration. To which I respond, so what?

    I’m done, by the way. Until you read what I write, I have no further interest in discussing with you. What laws can you break and let the Church have your back? Not a one. Not a single law. If you do the crime, you darn well better do the time. Fair enough?

  188. Bluedevil says:

    Brad: I’m not looking for an argument, just clarification. So if the Brethren, you choose who or what level of calling, tell us that it is ok to disobey certain laws, then it is ok?

  189. Speaking of aiding illegal aliens. There was the case last summer when an LDS chapel in San Diego was used by the Mexican Government. They setup computers in the cultural hall and allowed hundreds of illegal aliens to come through the building in order to purchase Matricual Consular cards. Local church members who tried to access the building for other purposes where escorted from the premises, but not before they were sworn at and flipped off by the various Mexican officials.

    Also, every time the Utah legislature attempts to crack down on crime committed by illegal aliens, senior leaders of the church (Elder Jensen & Elder Ballard primarily) do whatever they can to derail the efforts through one on one meetings or by distributing letters with their signature on it. While they may be motivated to protect the LDS illegal aliens, they are also protecting some pretty nasty criminal thugs.

  190. Darren, your charity runneth over.

  191. Bluedevil says:

    Steve: Fair enough. I think you are correct that if you get caught breaking a law, the church is going to leave you hanging, kind of makes sense, given agency and all, but in this particular subject, it looks like the church will do what it can to keep you from getting caught if you are an illegal alien serving a mission, but if you get caught, you’re on your own.

    Interesting policy to say the least. Kind of makes you believe more and more that the Perpetual Education Fund is surely inspired. That is the correct way to help people, the legal way I might add.

  192. From the comments above:

    “unjust law”

    This is the root of the problem. Whose definition of “unjust” do you use? A minority of US citizens think the current immigration laws are unjust. A minority of US citizens think the current gay-marriage laws are unjust. The list could go on and on.

    My recommendations (for what they’re worth, which isn’t much):

    1) The church should recognize that they made a mistake and try to follow the SPIRIT of the laws of this country as they currently stand. This implies a lot in the context of this discussion that I won’t rehash.

    2) If the church feels so strongly about this matter, which I agree would be an admirable thing to do, then they should devote as much time, resources and influence towards changing the US immigration law as they did for Proposition 8.

    The thing that bothers me the most with all of this is the dual standard of claiming to follow the law, but essentially ignoring it when it’s convenient. They may be following the letter of the law with Bennet’s amendment, but on the whole, they are completely choosing to ignore the SPIRIT of the law. As individuals, we are all weak, but I would expect the Lord’s church to set the example and take the high road. Their current explanations, hiding behind “double-speak” and legal definitions smack too much of what the definition of “is” is.

  193. “So if the Brethren, you choose who or what level of calling, tell us that it is ok to disobey certain laws, then it is ok?”

    Not, necessarily. But if the brethren choose to turn a blind eye to your turning a blind eye to certain laws, that is okay for them.

  194. Bluedevil says:

    Couldn’t have said it better than Mike S.


  195. “Their current explanations, hiding behind “double-speak” and legal definitions smack too much of what the definition of “is” is.”

    You should spend some time reading through the thousands of statements made by LDS leaders during the 1880s.

  196. Okay, folks, BCC is not a podium for y’all to speak evil of the Church and its leaders. I know you might think that’s not the case, but let me disabuse everyone of that notion right now.

  197. Lets explore the practical implications of denying TR’s and callings to illegal immigrants just for a moment shall we?

    I am sympathetic to the arguments that its a clear mistake to allow millions of people to live in the US illegally.

    But I think the Church has this issue right. Its a matter of realpolitic and the proper application of the scriptures.

    Imagine a stake such as mine with a very active Spanish speaking Hispanic ward populated with a mix of illegals, green card holders and US Citizens. Lets roll out a program of denying mission calls, TR’s, callings etc to the illegals in this ward. What happens? I think ALL the members in this ward get the message that they are not welcome in the church and many of them consequently leave.

    On a larger scale the press would be just terrible. It would drive out hundreds of thousands of active Hispanic members and cripple missionary work in Central and South America for generations.

  198. Lest it go uncommented-upon, may I just say that it is AWESOME that the Mexican government was able to comandeer an LDS building in San Diego. Simply awesome.

  199. “On a larger scale the press would be just terrible. It would drive out hundreds of thousands of active Hispanic members and cripple missionary work in Central and South America for generations.”

    You don’t seem to understand, bbell — it would be a VIOLATION OF CIVIL LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No possible good could undo that evil. ;)

  200. Fwiw:

    In so many ways, it would be nice to live in a simple world, where everything was obvious and competing interests and contradictory goods didn’t clash – where absolutes were easy to identify and follow – where shades of gray and difficult issues simply didn’t exist – where everyone could join hands, sing soft and gentle songs, smile at all and never struggle or cry.

    That’s our ultimate goal, to build a real Zion, but I’m glad I don’t live there now. We not prepared for it, so I’m afraid it would be governed by practices that would not be conducive to actual growth and progression. I’m afraid the happy vibe would run only skin deep, with the kind of rancor shown in this thread running strongly under the surface.

  201. Brad,

    I really think the implications of a really hardline immigration policy pushed by the church would be a disaster. It would make any fallout from prop 8 look like a cakewalk. I also think I would lose some of my Hispanic YM forever. I am not in favor of pushing policies that drive these kids and their families out.

    Can you imagine the press?

  202. (pstt, bbell—Brad was joking)

  203. I couldn’t agree more, bbell.

  204. Sam I caught that.

  205. To bbell and Brad:

    I think the church could actually handle it very nicely and turn this to their advantage.

    Imagine the following points in a press release (obviously written by someone who was more eloquent):

    – We were attempting to follow what we felt was a legal thing to do. This is obviously at odds with ICE and the government’s interpretation.

    – In order to follow the spirit of the law and uphold our commitment to obey the law of the land, from this point on, we will only call missionaries to serve in their official home country, or in countries in which they can legally get a visa to serve. We realize that this may be a hardship on good people who are in a tenuous situation regarding citizenship status, but we believe in honoring and sustaining the law.

    – Additionally, because we feel that we are all God’s children and want to support them spiritually and temporally, we are going to officially support a reformation of our country’s immigration laws

    If they actually mobilized their resources as in Prop 8, and formed a coalition with the Catholic and other churches and interest groups, I think:

    1) It would let people know the church values following the laws of the land. This would give them much better legal footing.

    2) It would let people of other nationalities know that the church supports them and their issues. I think that this would actually HELP, rather than HINDER the work in Central and South America, knowing that there is a large organization working for them.

    3) It would help the members who are otherwise confused by the wording of Elder Holland and others, where they say they will have to try other strategies to “work around” immigration laws (basically choosing to ignore them).

  206. Hey Mike S,

    If you and your anti-immigration buddies pray super hard maybe you can talk God into convincing the leaders of the church to obey your wishes on immigration policies!

  207. Chuck McKinnon says:

    Brad #183: The Church only decided that “when in conflict, the imperatives to build the Kingdom and care for fellow human beings trump the imperative to follow US immigration law” after Senator Bennett had carved out an exemption for the Church to the penalties — an exemption that does not apply to the missionaries actually serving.

    Sam B #187: Likewise, the key difference is that Dr. King accepted that the price of breaking an unjust law was to suffer the attendant punishment. Indeed, often the point of civil disobedience is to “put the law on trial” by suffering an unjust penalty and turning public opinion against it.

    Henry Morgentaler, here in Canada, did the same thing with our abortion laws. He set himself up to get caught and tried, with the explicit goal of putting the law on trial. He succeeded, but not without a long legal battle that included some jail time. I differ dramatically from Dr. Morgentaler’s position on abortion, but I have to admire that the man so obviously had the courage of his convictions.

    If the Church’s goal really is to defy what it sees as unjust laws, I’m disappointed that it seems willing to stand up and be counted only after it has been granted immunity from prosecution. I’ll go on record that if it loses the tenuous legal protection afforded by the 2005 rider, I expect it will disallow undocumented immigrants from serving missions. I’m sad to say it, but that strikes me as an opportunistic stance, not a principled one in a fight for greater justice.

  208. I’ll take a stab at “unjust law”. If I am a kid who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and was brought to the US by my parents when I was one year old, and I have never been back, then my “home” country becomes a bit ambiguous at best. Requiring me to have to agree to go “back” to that country that I have never known for at least 10 years or longer, just because the fire of testimony burns in my heart and I want to serve a mission, strikes me as suffering under an “unjust” law.

    And I, for one, am not the least confused by the wording of Elder Holland and others.

  209. Chuck,
    So it is. And I don’t see any point at which the Church has shown itself unwilling to accept the consequences of its actions.

    Dr. King didn’t break the law with the purpose of suffering the attendant punishment. That was and unfortunate consequence. His purpose, however, was to effect change in the law. The Church appears to have had some measured success in this regard, if it’s true that Sen. Bennett proposed the change at the behest of the Church.

  210. I should add, if I had my druthers, the Church would become involved with the New Sanctuary Movement. The fact that it won’t, however, does not cause me to find our leaders uninspired, hypocritical, or evil. I don’t expect the Church to support all of my political leanings (as much as I think it would be cool if the Church did); it’s not the Church’s responsibility to cater to my politics.

    But at least I can buy Dan Zanes’s The Welcome Table album and have the money go to the churches that do participate.

  211. Hey Geoff J:

    First, your comment makes you sound really intelligent and certainly contributed a lot to the discussion here.

    Second, if you actually read the comment above yours (#205), you would realize that I am NOT anti-immigration. In fact, I would love for the church to fight to reform our immigration laws. We form a large percentage of the population and I think it could have success. My arguments have merely been that we should support the existing laws of the land until we are able to change them.

  212. WatchDog says:

    Just read some of the comments. I wound up with a few that need a little rethinking.

    “…It does not behoove LDS U.S. citizens to demand strict compliance with U.S. immigration and visa laws….”

    It doesn’t? Come on, now! What is different? Seems to me that if this thinking was okay, Joseph would never have ridden to Carthage, knowing full well that he was going to die there!

    “…were brought to this country illegally by their parents when the young men were very small children and not in control of their movements — although in this country illegally, they have done nothing wrong themselves….”

    Wait a minute! I can just hear is now: But, but, officer…I didn’t know I was (you fill in the blank here with absolutely any criminal act you wish) in violation of existing law. No matter what you choose to put in the blank spot, the VERY DAY these kids become 18, THEY are in violation of existing immigration law, and become illegal aliens in and of their own right. They NO longer get to blame their parents.

    A side note: IF this logic was correct, then when do I get to pick and choose which law I would like to break?

    You are correct that it was their parents that caused the problem. You miss the fact that it is NOT ours to resolve, it is theirs. Period!

    “…I hope the Church continues its course in allowing undocumented foreigners to serve missions, even if it does require extra effort and consideration to avoid legal hangups….”

    So do I. BUT first, they should be resolving the ID theft, going through ALL the steps of repentance getting ready to serve, AND then, the church could ask these illegal aliens to serve (legally) in their OWN country – where they legally belong. We could even teach them how to apply legally, come here legally, etc. By “ALL” the steps or repentance, we should not forget their need to repay the damages done because of stolen ID’s, or the costs to a foreign government that they had NO right to be expecting their schooling from, etc., etc., etc.

    “…we believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law…”

    Yes, we do! ALL of it, ALL of the time! Have you forgotten the statement that NO unclean…can dwell with God? How do you think the Lord is going to respond when we arrive with the nerve to suggest that ANY violation of the law concerning (fill in the blank here) we chose to violate would not matter if we had not gone completely through the repentance process? I don’t care if you fill the blank with illegal immigration or speeding or jay walking, or …. It is NOT going to get the response you are hoping for!

    We are here to make choices. One of those choices involves obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law – or not. It is absolutely a black and white issue. NO grey area whatsoever. Before you decide to agrue with me, remember, “NO” unclean…. That’s “NO”, meaning none, nada, never.

    “…Trotting out the good ol’ 12th-Article of Faith argument always baffles me. Using the Article of Faith as a bludgeon to disagree with the policy of church leaders regarding immigration is credulous at best, considering the point at which the Articles of Faith were written (1842)….”

    Policy of the church, you say? What might that be? That we can ignore accepted scripture because it was written a couple of generations ago? Give me a break! You have to be kidding, right?

    “…Trotting out the good ol’ 12th-Article of Faith argument always baffles me….”

    Why? It is, after all, one of the foundations our our church. There is nothing there that has not been a solid gospel principle for around 4000 years.

    Bear in mind that disagreeing with the First Presidency is not something that should be done lightly. That is because they are supposed to be following our scripture.

    Think about what they can do:
    1. They can follow existing scripture.
    2. They can create entirely new scripture.
    3. They could even delete scripture if they so desired.
    4. They CANNOT however, ignore existing scripture.

    They have done none of the first three things over this issue. What they have done is contained within the fourth item. They have done so, in an underhanded and deceptive way no less. They have, AFTER THE FACT, had Sen Bennett change the law AFTER they got caught in Elberta hiring illegal aliens. Even the supervisor was an illegal! They have gone to state legislators with requests to kill bills regarding illegal immigration – while at the same time publicly, loudly, proclaiming that they don’t get involved in politics.

    What concerns me most of all is that we are being asked to sustain these leaders when we KNOW they are in need of serious repentance in their own lives. Why we continue to do so is what baffles me.

    Now, I will go see if I can get through the rest of the comments.

  213. Geoff J.,

    For what it is worth, I think all of your comments really do make you sound intelligent. Keep up the good fight.

  214. What concerns me most of all is that we are being asked to sustain these leaders when we KNOW they are in need of serious repentance in their own lives.

    It’s apostates on parade!

    Just think, if the far right wackos of the church keep up this kind of murmuring against the brethren the church’s movement from the right to the middle will happen even faster. (And we can all thank God for that).

    Keep it up wingnuts — keep up the good work.

  215. “What concerns me most of all is that we are being asked to sustain these leaders when we KNOW they are in need of serious repentance in their own lives.”

    WOW!! This discussion really has spiraled out of control.

  216. What is it, anyway, about wingnuts that requires them to CAPITALIZE random words?

  217. WatchDog, you’re off the reservation. You’re officially and publicly calling the prophet and the apostles of the Church to repentance. To say that takes some cojones is an understatement. More accurately, you’re firmly on the road to apostasy.

  218. Chuck McKinnon says:

    Sam #210: Here we find solid ground for agreement. Thanks for a measured response.

  219. Remember, everyone, this young man carried an incredible spirit with him. He spoke with power and conviction and understood the heart of the Gospel at least as well I do. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a more spiritually in-tune missionary in my life – and that’s not hyperbole. God walked with that young man as he served his mission as much as He has walked with any missionary I have ever met.

    That is not inconsequential, as it relates directly to how he is being characterized, even if only indirectly, in many comments at multiple sites. This isn’t just a person; this is a man of God – a truly amazing man, quite frankly. It’s easy to lose sight of that fact, especially for those who have not met him or felt the depth of his spirit.

    Discussions of legal options and the law are one thing; statements that demean his character and paint with overly broad brushes of condemnation and vitriol are quite another.

    “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

    “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

    There’s a lot of stone throwing going on over this issue in lots of places and in lots of discussions, and that makes me FAR sadder than even this young man’s plight.

  220. Hey everybody! The First Presidency just released the following statement:

    “The ramblings of a brother named Watchdog were recently brought to our attention. And after much consideration, we have decided he was right and we had fallen so far from the truth. Starting tomorrow we will send all undocumented foriegners back to where they came from (Sorry Elder Uchtdorf). And thank you again brother Watchdog for so carefully watching out for our salvation”

  221. To quote from — well, from my own SLTrib op-ed last year about the 12th Article of Faith:

    Sometimes fellow church members ask me, but what about the Articles of Faith? This is an important series of short statements setting out basic church beliefs, and one of them (the 12th) states that church members believe in “obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.”
    Does that mean that church members – legislators, even – should support more stringent immigration law policy or enforcement?
    No, it doesn’t. Church members are not required to support unjust, anti-family laws; and in fact, church history is full of opposition to such laws. Church members vigorously opposed the unjust, anti-family Edmunds Act and its cousins, and we should similarly oppose (in existence and enforcement) the harsh immigration laws that sprang from the same poisoned well.
    Immigration laws as enforced today are among the most anti-family laws in existence. Every single day, immigration officials break up families, flaunting another recent statement of church doctrine – the church’s Proclamation on the Family, which solemnly declares that children are entitled to a home with father and mother.
    Recent proposals to further penalize immigrants would only make matters worse. A better immigration policy would be one that built on the proclamation’s statement that children are entitled to be reared by father and mother. It would focus on keeping immigrant families together, rather than tearing them apart.
    Immigration barriers also clash with another of the church’s basic Articles of Faith – the 10th article of faith, which prophesies the “literal gathering of Israel” to a promised land here in the United States. This idea corresponds to verses from the Book of Isaiah that “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains,” and that “all nations shall flow unto it.”
    Church leaders have long explained these verses as a prophecy that the nations of the Earth would come to the temples of the Lord in the Utah mountains. (The idea is reflected in popular church hymns like “High on the Mountain Top.”)
    If church members really believe in this gathering, why would we try to impede it? We should instead welcome the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that the nations of the Earth be gathered to Zion.
    As church Elder Marlin Jensen recently reiterated, “Immigration questions are questions dealing with God’s children.” In these matters, a humane approach is required. We are all children of God, a popular church hymn goes, and He has sent us here; He gives us an earthly home and parents kind and dear.
    Children are entitled to be raised within those homes, not in homes fractured by misguided government policies. Legislators of all religious persuasions should take steps to reinforce immigrant homes and families, not tear them down.
    And people everywhere who share Latter-day Saint values should follow Elder Jensen’s words, and push for more humane immigration laws and policies.

  222. Well put, Kaimi.

    What bothers me most about so many of the comments both here and on T&S is the unwarranted focus on the 12th Article of Faith and following every jot and title of the law.

    Yes I prefer that people obey the law, but the law is not as important as the Gospel, and it is made by fallable humans.

    In spite of attempts to discuss other issues around this situation, the morality of the law, what should the law be, certain participants keep coming back to the law, as if that’s everything.

    We get it. You want those here illegally to obey the law.

    I’ve got news for you: It ain’t going to happen.

    Why don’t we talk about what we should do recognizing that illegal immigrants aren’t going to stop coming just because you want them to follow the law.

    Why don’t we talk about how after decades of progressively strict laws and increasing enforcement, no progress has been made in stemming the tide of illegal immigration.

    Why don’t we talk about that fact that the change in Church policy you suggest won’t actually help anything, but will actually hurt people and lead to worse outcomes.

    Gentlemen: Your prescription for solving the immigration problem isn’t working, and doesn’t look like it will ever work.

    Let’s change the law to get something that does work, preferably something that will treat people as human beings and discourage the disdain and poor-treatment found in enforcement of the current laws.

    Lets change failed law for law that actually works.

  223. So, other than marriage to a US citizen, or returning “home” for at least 10 years, is there any way for an undocumented alien to gain legal residence in the US?

    Those who infer that my previous question on this point (#124) were an encouragement for sham marriages do so incorrectly.

  224. Craig M. says:

    Question: Could it be that the “always obey the law”/12th Article of Faith argument is an example of following the philosophies of men — albeit mingled with scriptures?

    It seems to me that these arguments are sometimes based more upon political ideologies than gospel principles, but then resort to a scripture to support it.

  225. Kent, what is this new law you propose? I want to hear it. I agree the immigration laws have lots of problems.

    Kaimi, I’m not sure why you bring in Edmunds. The Church had a clear directive to practice polygamy back then. Is there a clear, divine injunction for people to break US immigration laws? (Note I didn’t say the laws were good, but I believe the analogy is flawed). I believe the injunction to move to the US was lifted about fifty-100 years ago. Now people are instructed that it’s usually best to stay in the country in which they were born. Has this changed? If so, why do we have the PEF?

  226. Craig M. says:

    To clarify my #224 — I don’t say that as an accusation, but just to raise the question. That is too big of an accusation for me to make.

  227. Leaving the 12th article of faith debate and going back the the young man in custody, there is a question that needs to be answered. Assuming that he had a visa when he started, why did no one in his mission management chain or his ecclesiastical line of authority make sure that his situation was taken care of? The church employs darned good lawyers around the world and is not afraid to twist arms in the diplomatic community and the U.S. State Department to make sure that missionaries get the best visa and work permit conditions that the church can negotiate. Somebody messed up and there ought to be some seriously blistered ears about this situation.

  228. I’m quite late returning to this bloodbath, but I have a few responses:

    To Chuck McKinnon: I’m not quite sure what you were reading when you suggested I was mocking those who disagree with my position on this issue. Believe me, I’ve done plenty of mocking of those persons and their positions, but I was puzzled that you thought I had done it here.

    To Darren: Reread section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The penalties for harboring or transporting require “knowing” or “reckless disregard” of the alien’s status. The other elder in the car is not likely to meet either of those standards.

    About marriage: that marriage is abused for immigration purposes is shameful and wrong. But is someone seriously arguing that no U.S. citizens should be permitted to petition for their spouse’s visas because others abuse the system? To answer, briefly, some questions above: marriage to a US citizen will only lead to legal status (without some other substantial hurdles) if the non-citizen was inspected by an immigration officer upon entering the country–coming through the desert with los coyotes doesn’t count, and that person’s status, even if he or she marries a U.S. citizen, can only be legalized if he or she departs the U.S. for 10 years.

    Finally, it’s easy for those of us who were born in the U.S. in this century to talk about a “law-and-order church”–(by the way, I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, not the Church of Law and Order)–because we don’t face the heart-rending choices that some in other countries do: stay there and starve or live in a grinding cycle of poverty or move and give my children a chance to live (racheted up several degrees of difficulty depending on the person’s situation). Don’t judge other people’s righteousness without getting into their shoes and understanding the difficulties of their situation.

  229. Chuck (218),
    No problem.

  230. Re 227.

    There is virtually no chance that this young man started his mission in valid non-immigrant status. See my comment on this subject on T&S.

    In short, I think that the Church Travel Department, which handles, at least initially, the visa applications for missionaries, can rest easy on this one.

    Re 223.

    To quote a famous line heard somewhere: There is no other way. (Mostly)

  231. Chuck McKinnon says:

    Mark B: It was posts 95 and 101 that got my notice, specifically:

    “Usually a suggestion that the number of immigrant visas/green cards issued to Mexicans is too high is simply thinly veiled anti-Mexican bigotry. Again, if that’s your position, have the cojones to come out and say it.”


    “So, the “my ancestors came in legally, why can’t those filthy [fill in your favorite group of foreigners] do the same?” argument is just not worth squat.”

    Especially in the second post, the insinuation that the original poster must have had a hidden, darker motive behind his or her forthrightly-stated opinion seemed to me unjustified.

    In retrospect though, you made quite a few posts early in the thread and it was unfair of me to categorize all of them on the basis of those two. I overreacted. And for the record, I love the idea of the DREAM Act, or something very like it.

  232. MaxRespect says:

    I’ve just spent family night reading all 200+ posts. What a sad situation for the missionary. With regard to this, I find the Church’s position loving, tolerant and consistent.

    In the UK it used to be the case about 5-10 years ago (not sure if it is still the case) that the church couldn’t help people financially that were illegally in the country even if they paid a full tithe. But that didn’t stop rank and file providing support.

    On a side note:
    Re Comment #74, even now that divorce is legal for some years, people living-in-sin still hold callings, etc…

    Apparently having to wait a year or two for a divorce to be processed is too long to wait and hence why not just shack up and be happy? No problem at all.

    It doesn’t seem like an ideal situation to me…

  233. I am not trying to insult anyone here, but How can anyone Whose very presence in this Country is breaking the law, be considered in good standing with the Church! If we cannot honestly answer the question, do you deal with your fellow men honestly? How can we be worthy to go on a mission?

    I have nothing against this young man. If he was legal when he left and became illegal while he was gone then someone really dropped the ball. If he was illegal when he left then he should have been found unworthy! It is not the Church’s role to enforce the law, but we do live by certain rules that have been defined in the articles of faith and by our prophets and religion. If we are willing to change those rules for some are we not being hypocritical!

    The problem is that if as citizens of this great Country we decide to look the other way while some break the law we create a group of people that are priveledged over the actual citizens of this Country. Which in turn leads to hard feelings and can culminate in increasing hard feelings and even violence. We should be for actually holding everyone to the same standards. So if I break the law, then I pay the price and the same goes for the illegal aliens. The argument that we are breaking up families is false. They have done this themselves. If I break the law here in America (which thousands of Americans do every day) Then if I am caught you can bet that I am going to be taken from my family!!! Why can I not expect the same to happen to those aliens that would break our laws???

    When we choose to pick and choose the laws that we want to enforce many people can be injured in the process. Because we have chosen to look the other way on this issue for so long many, many American Citizens have been injured, sexually assaulted or Killed! Because we have looked the other way for so long, in my little community over the past 15 years over 50% of the murders committed here were committed by illegal aliens!!! Including the Kidnapping and Murder of my own Son!!! These People make up less then 6% of our population and yet they account for over 50% of our murders!!! Can you see a problem???

    We as a Church should take the lead and we should love everyone but if you are illegal it should be the policy to help those that would join our church attain legal status so they can honestly be in compliance with the rules of the Church.

    I am not trying to say that I know more then our Church leaders. I am not second guessing them, this is just my opinion.

  234. Hmmmm, I have just realized that there is another Mark B. My post only refers to post 233. Sorry about the confussion.

  235. I’ll let you sow all the confussion you want, so long as you change your name.

  236. I know the REAL Mark B. made comment no. 235. Ask me how.

  237. Mark Ba. says:

    Lol, Hows that? Sorry about the bad spelling also.

  238. Mark Ba. says:

    Hmmmm, How?

  239. Mark Ba. says:

    And Just what constitutes the real Mark B., lol.

  240. Mark Ba., it’s a secret, except to say that with every comment the distinction between you and Mark B. becomes more clear.

  241. Mark Ba. says:

    Lol, Well I am not trying to be Mark B. it just happens that my name is Mark B. When I first stated that I did not realize there was another one. So I just added the next letter in my real name.

  242. Darren suggested:

    There are avenues that would allow them to leave temporarily and obtain a student visa, allowing them to return as a student and have the hope of a work permit, later green card and eventually even citizenship. To legally serve as a missionary they could leave and request an R1 Visa, granted to church volunteers.

    Those avenues are, unfortunately, all dead ends.

    If an alien has been here unlawfully for one year after his 18th birthday, he will be barred from reentry for 10 years. I guess a 10-year stay is “temporary”–but it might just seem like an eternity to someone who’s only lived twice that long.

    Then, when the alien applies for a non-immigrant visa in, say, Mexico City, he has to convince the consular officer that he will in fact return to his home country after a temporary stay in the U.S. (whether as a visitor, religious worker, student or in some other category of non-immigrant). When the officer discovers that he already spent several years in the U.S. and that he has several immediate family members in the U.S. (all of which will be disclosed on the visa application form–google DS-156 and check it out yourself), the chances of his receiving a visa drop to absolute zero. Well, maybe not absolute zero. But he would have better odds of winning the PowerBall and the Irish lotteries on the same day. The same rules apply even if the alien involved is a woman (if you’re confused by the apparently masculine pronouns).

    And one minor correction: the R-1 visa is for religious workers, not volunteers. Part of what’s required in the application for the visa is evidence that the person will be paid, and that the church has the wherewithal to pay the salary/stipend.

  243. I came to this late, but let me thank the commenters–nothing makes for some good laughs like the duelling of trolls and snarks when reading a favorite blog way past bedtime.

  244. If the person has been here unlawfully for more then a year he must be willing to pay the penalty. If you or I were to break the law every minute of every day for a year or more and were then caught, we would be held accountable! What makes them priveledged? What make them above the law?

    To many good people have paid far to high of a price at the hands of this issue! It is not our job to sort them out and decide which ones are good and which ones are bad! By their own decisions they have put themselves and their families in harms way! Bad behavior should not be rewarded!

  245. Well goodnight all. I will pick this up tomorrow.

  246. Good to have you, Mark Ba., you and your exclamation points.

  247. >By their own decisions they have put themselves and their families in harms way!

    Good grief, sir. Many of these undocumented souls we’re talking about were brought here as small children by their parents. This whole discussion started with a missionary-age kid who was almost certainly not responsible for bringing himself and his family into the country illegally. What are you talking about?

  248. But Scott, i just got done welcoming him. Now egg is all over my face. Good grief, sir.

  249. You have admin privileges. Do what you must, sir.

  250. OK — thanks!

  251. Latter-day Guy says:

    This is one of the most baffling posts I’ve ever read. Well, not the post so much, but the comments. It’s truly marvelous. Comments, such as those by WatchDog et al., have shown me that I am not as jaded as I thought. You have renewed my sense of wonder and awe. Never again will I doubt the indomitable power of the human spirit when coupled with inexhaustible ignorance and an utterly unwarranted sense of certainty.

  252. i read this entire thread up to this point, and there have been some VERY good points made…mostly by bluedevil…

    here is the essence of the problem…for every $1 an illegal contributes through taxes, they remove $3 of benefits. this is unsustainable. they are destroying our country by overwhelming our social infrastructure through “entitlements.” this goes for “good” illegal immigrants as well as “evil” illegal immigrants. it is impossible to function in this country “illegally” without misrepresenting the facts, ie, lying.

    instead of trying to “split the baby” we need to send them all back to their country of origin. but, there is no political will to do what is necessary to save our country…so, it will implode.

    stock up on your food supply, buy a few guns, put aside some gold or silver and try and be as self-sufficient as possible, because the ship it be sinking…

  253. Hehe. Another one shows up out of nowhere. Who knew that there was such an unending supply of wingnut dillweeds out there?

  254. ds7, the economic ratio for the elderly and for severely disabled children is much, much worse. Same treatment? That would solve your scenario much faster than deporting people, and, if this really is an economic issue at the core, we need to address it as such. We can’t let other factors get in the way, right?

  255. Latter-day Guy says:

    stock up on your food supply, buy a few guns, put aside some gold or silver and try and be as self-sufficient as possible, because the ship it be sinking…

    You see?! Wondrous. Almost a miracle. The insanity is expressed in a capital-letter-free, e.e. cummings-esque style, and the cherry on this sundae of delusion must be the pirate dialect of the final phrase. Truly, it is a gift that keeps on giving.

    500 comments or bust, people. Keep the madness coming!

  256. Steven (225), take a look at my comments in 158. That gives about all the thought I’ve put into what the law should be.

  257. ds7 (252), put up now. what is your source for this 1:3 cost claim?

    I haven’t analyzed any of the studies that these kind of claims are based on (and I know equally outrageous claims are made on both sides), but I suspect that they have either been manipulated or us deficient methodology.

    For a normal, healthy working adult, a 1:3 cost claim is outrageous. I can’t conceive of how that level of cost is possible.

    What, did they add the entire ICE budget into the costs?

  258. Peter LLC says:

    The US has $3 of benefits per illegal immigrant to remove? I thought the social net was a little more threadbare than that; I would’ve guess about a nickel.

  259. aloysiusmiller says:

    I am amused by those who justify illegal immigration by saying that it is the church’s mission to invite all to come unto Christ. Coming unto Christ means repenting of your sins. If one has not repented they have not come unto Christ. It is basically impossible to live illegally in the US or any other country in an honest way. (See Mark 10:19) So the Church should indeed go to illegals and it should ask them to repent and be baptized.

    Adopting a benign policy could have repercussions. For example: what if the authorities in China asked the Church what its position is on illegal aliens. China has an illegal alien problem. They have many refugees from North Korea that are in China illegally. Their situation is tragic beyond anything we know. Yet China says no to North Korean refugees. So perhaps we promise that we will never baptize an illegal in China. So China asks what do you do in America. How would our authorities answer? What if this were the deal breaker for getting permission to proselyte in China?

  260. Mark Ba. says:

    “Good grief, sir. Many of these undocumented souls we’re talking about were brought here as small children by their parents. This whole discussion started with a missionary-age kid who was almost certainly not responsible for bringing himself and his family into the country illegally. What are you talking about?”

    Did I not say that by their own decisions they put themselves and their families in harms way? Would not their families include their children? I am not saying it was the childs fault and I have not judged this young man in any way. The fact is that by deciding to break our laws some families have put their children in harms way! If you put your child in harms way you would probably be visited by DFS and maybe had them taken from you! Also at the age of 18 most children are given a chance to change their status to legal if they do it in that one year window.

    Geof J says: “Hehe. Another one shows up out of nowhere. Who knew that there was such an unending supply of wingnut dillweeds out there?”

    If you are talking about me joining this group it might help if you used an intelligent argument instead of stooping to the lowest level by calling people names! If you can argue this on even a base level of intelligence I will be glad to argue the points of this issue with you.

  261. Mark Ba. says:

    Steve Evans; Thank you very much for welcoming me to this forum. Some times I get very emotional about this issue and can’t stop my finger from putting an emphasis on my exclamations, lol.

  262. Wow Geoff, you have driven the wingnuts to defend the use of reason. I guess this is what happens when “God said so” does not apply. I can relate to this conflict myself, but is fun to see the other side struggle with it. The problem is that some arguments do not warrant a reasoned response.

  263. another problem the church has is that politically it is anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and now it is trying to convince its members it is pro-illegal immigration. that has to be the smallest coalition in america to hold those 3 hot button positions simultaneously.

    if they are willing to parse people out by ethnicity and call it a “spanish ward,” why not by political affiliation? they could have whole democrat wards where people like harry reid could show up and “feel comfortable” and justify their destruction of the country in support of “equality” and “diversity” and “multi-culturalism.”

    as the church has grown it has had to dumb down the doctrine to appeal to the lowest common denominator…go back and read the books by ezra taft benson and the noted byu religion professor cleon skousen…they truly saw our day.

  264. ds7,
    Are we “politically” anti-abortion? That might be another post.

    Actually the largest anti-abortion, anti-SSM, pro-illegal immigation group in the country is the Republican Party.

    Skousen wrote about this stuff but he was never a “noted byu religion professor.” If anyone was a specialist at dumbing down complex truths or appealling to “the lowest common denominator” it was Skousen

  265. Wow, the sl trib in the comments mentioned this blog to show what the mormons were thinking about the trib article. Let me just say that honesty doesn’t mean much to a lot of you. Wow!

  266. I’m a little confused here. This site proclaims to be welcoming and a place to openly discuss issues by thinking for yourself and coming to “common consent”. However, I’ve noticed a pattern that newcomers are routinely mocked and the common rebuttal to all arguments is to close your eyes and blindly follow some newspaper quotes written with an open-borders slant.

    Is this some sort of elitist enclave of immigration lawyers and business owners who routinely break the law by hiring illegal aliens? I don’t understand the un-Christlike mocking attitude that many supposed regulars have in their postings which personally attack other people.

    At least within my family, illegal immigration is a disturbing issue and not just because of the law enforcement background. We’ve have very close friends who have been victimized by illegal aliens. Not the type you would run into at church, but those who drive without license and insurance, drive through a red light and total a car and then give fake information to the police. One of my best friends growing up joined the border patrol, got married, was pregnant with her first child, but then was ambushed and killed by an illegal alien fugitive in Texas. If you honestly believe that all illegal aliens are simply economic refugees, coming here to improve their life, you are either very naive or are taking a calculated risk that your personal economic gain by hiring them offsets the costs to society.

    One organization that routinely studies the issues in depth is the Center for Immigration studies (www.cis.org).

    It shouldn’t be that hard to imagine that illegal aliens cost more money than they contribute when you consider that most are uneducated and perform the lowest paying jobs available. Many have bigger than average size families, allowing them to claim many exemptions upfront, reducing their income taxes to virtually nothing.

    They tend to share housing with other people, watering down the property taxes that are paid for that location, yet sending more children than average to the local schools, who may need extra resources if the children don’t speak English. Because of the low income + large families, they are able to take advantage of several social programs, particularly if they have a child here. They may claim WIC, Medicaid, Food Stamps, housing subsidies.

    Many uninsured take advantage of emergency rooms which legally can’t turn anyone away, even if they can’t/won’t pay. This has led to dozens of hospitals closing along the border because they can’t afford to treat so many non-paying people.

    There seems to be a growing entitlement attitude among them that they somehow deserve all of these social things because they “are willing to do the work that Americans are too lazy to do”. Yet, they’ll swear at our culture and call us stupid for rewarding their lawlessness. It’s interesting that most of those jobs represent the very first jobs I did as a youth (working at a berry farm, bailing hay, fast food). I’ve even come across families of Spanish-speakers who sign up for multiple “sub for santa” programs around Christmas time so they can double and triple dip into the generosity of people here.

    I’ve even heard that within LDS wards, the Brethren are concerned because many of the illegal alien members do not pay much if any in tithing, but do use a lot of church welfare resources.

  267. Mark Ba. says:

    Stunned; Why would you say that honesty does not mean much to us?

  268. Stunned,
    You are easily stunned. I think that must of us are being quite bluntly honest. Apparently morally arbitrary political borders mean a lot to you. Wow.

  269. Darren,
    I think the Brethren are worried about anyone not paying their tithing. If they are addressing specific groups of individuals and their tithing status is public, that might be problematic itself. If you heard this in PEC or in similar settings, it would not be appropriate to share either.

    Many of your attacks on undocumented immigrants are just rehashed rebush. The same things have been said about the poor and down trodden for centuries. The data does not hold, unless you get your data from anti-illegal immigration extremists like CIS.

  270. I’ve got to get to work, so I’ll just comment quickly. You can’t possibly think that having church leaders knowingly disregard laws is acceptable. After reading a few of the comments and seeing how your church leaders have them avoid airports, bus stations, etc. so they won’t get arrested and think this is ok is beyond me. Remember, illegals steal people’s ids to get jobs and such. If the church doesn’t like the law, they should lobby to get it changed. It doesn’t impress me that they pick and choose what they will follow. Let’s hope for your sake this doesn’t make national news.

    We’ll I’m off this site for good.


  271. Chris H. Says: “…Skousen wrote about this stuff but he was never a “noted byu religion professor.”…”

    not to get off on a tangent here, but…cleon was a byu religion professor and he has written a book that in the past year has been rated #1 on the amazon.com website, the largest online bookseller in the world…that would put any author in the “noted” category…but i suppose it all comes down to what your definition of “noted” is…how about this, he probably has greater “name recognition” than any other byu religion professor outside of the LDS community or provo…

  272. Bye-bye!

  273. Steve Evans says:

    Darren, as a newcomer to this little cocktail party it behooves you not to badmouth the host and mock the party locale. If you don’t like it, leave. But if you stay, please be a nice guest.

  274. Steve Evans says:

    aloysiusmiller, loath as I am to see you here, you’re raising an interesting point — except I am not sure that Christ would say that complete compliance with Caesar’s law is a prerequisite to coming to Him.

  275. Stunned is Lou Dobbs!

  276. It looks like the comments here have been hijacked by the crowd who have been posting comments on the Salt Lake Tribune article. Kudos to the Tribune for a decent article, but a pox on the vast majority of those who commented on the article. Nothing’s uglier than anti-Mormons and illegal immigrant haters banding together for a common cause.
    By the way, ds7 is a troll on the Tribune pages.
    It’s obvious that illegal immigrants have become the scapegoats of our generation. Blaming them for all of our problems doesn’t actually solve anything. And calling church leaders to repentance only shows how far some have fallen into apostasy.
    Do we put our trust in God’s word and God’s law? Or in man’s? Do we see others as human beings or as monsters? Is the LDS church an international church, or is it an American church? Time to decide.

  277. Researcher says:

    Oh my. Am I understanding right that the Salt Lake Tribune commenting crowd just showed up complete with lack of capitalization and punctuation? Now that’s scary.

    (It seems like this story and all the different issues surrounding it have already been discussed thoroughly and the new commenters are just rehashing things that were said earlier in the discussion. But I could be wrong about that. As Steve just pointed out, aloysiusmiller, of all people, might be saying something original.)

  278. aloysiusmiller says:

    Thank you for your kind welcome Steve. Your post is very amusing. I suppose if one’s presence here as an illegal defrauds no one I would agree. Please show me such an example of how illegal status does not involve fraud. This isn’t merely Caesar’s law. It is our interdependent community. Again your (its only the monolithic government) stand betrays your leftward leanings.

  279. Kevin Barney says:

    As the tenor of the discussion seems to be deteriorating to newspaper comment levels, I’m going to close comments. Thank you all for your participation.

  280. Thanks Kevin.

%d bloggers like this: