Defending Families: Why the #TogetherWithoutBorders Movement Matters

CNNvljRUsAA6pWOI served my mission in the Spanish-speaking wards and branches of California’s San Joaquin Valley. The overwhelming majority of the people that I knew, taught, baptized, served, and loved were undocumented immigrants from Latin America. As missions often are, this was a life-changing, perspective-altering experience.

I was serving in Watsonville in 1986, when President Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which offered a path to residency for millions of undocumented workers. For about three months, our full-time job as missionaries—with the full support of the stake and the mission—was to help Church members negotiate the bureaucracy required to become legal residents. It was holy work, and I remain proud that I, and my Church, were part of it.

When I left the mission field nearly 30 years ago, I home two certain bits of knowledge—one political and one spiritual—that have conditioned my understanding ever since. First, I understood that immigration, documented or otherwise, is driven by economic laws inherent in our capitalist system. When there is a large supply of labor on one side of a border, and a large demand for labor on the other side, there will be immigration. Neither large walls nor armed guards will prevent people who need jobs from finding their way to a place where jobs need people.CNNvWgeUwAAr8ZU

The really important thing that I learned, though, is that separating people from the families they are trying to provide for is spiritually destructive–both to the people being separated and to the society insisting on the separation. This is a moral issue for all people, but especially for Latter-day Saints, who rightly proclaim that the family is the fundamental unit of spiritual life. When the 1986 amnesty was finally enacted, I was able to see the profound spiritual growth that came with the simple knowledge that a family would be together—both forever in eternity and for the foreseeable future in the United States.

As immigration reform again becomes a major issue in our politics, keeping families together must become a major focus of our religion. The LDS Church has been very clear about this in their public statements supporting the Obama Administrations efforts to reform immigration in ways that keep families together. A rare public political statement from the Church newsroom makes this crystal clear:

What to do with the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now residing in various states within the United States is the biggest challenge in the immigration debate.  The bedrock moral issue for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is how we treat each other as children of God.

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

                        . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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

In furtherance of needed immigration reform in the United States, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports a balanced and civil approach to a challenging problem, fully consistent with its tradition of compassion, its reverence for family, and its commitment to law.

CNMX2BjUYAEkS0AThis is why #TogetherWithoutBorders, the recent social media campaign by Latter-day Saints supporting the Church’s unequivocal position on immigration reform, matters. It matters a lot. It is an example of individuals within the Church fighting for a core value of their religion when most LDS politicians–who regularly invoke support of the Church’s more conservative positions to appeal to their constituents—have ignored the Church on this issue and joined with a nativist right just itching for another battle in their cultural war.

And the rest of us need to support these efforts too. Spiritually, the stakes are high. This is one of the very few contemporary political issues on which the Church has taken a clear and unambiguous stand. Another is same-sex marriage. One way to destroy families (we have heard over and over again in the past year) is to sanction alternative marriage arrangements that violate the laws of God. Another way is to separate parents from their children and use the coercive power of the state to keep them apart. Families need to be together, and defenders of the family need to make it a priority to defend actual families in danger of being torn apart.

Comments

  1. Amen.

  2. Problem is, by keeping these families in the US and giving them citizenship we are still supporting broken torn apart families. Having served my mission in Mexico, I saw there were entire villages (many many of them) with almost no males in them from the ages of 18 to 50. They had left their families in Mexico to go work in the US. Their kids grew up without ever seeing or knowing their fathers except for brief visits back and sometimes the fathers simply started new families in the US and left the ones in Mexico to fend for themselves. This is the norm. If we give free citizenship to all these people there will be another mass flood making this problem even worse but no one stops to think about that. Not to mention it we encourage them en mass to navigate the risks or rape and death they undertake just to get here. By stopping illegal immigration and sending these people home we will actually be helping to support the traditional Mexican family and stop the abandonment and bigamy which currently dominates the culture. People only look at this issue from one side but when you know the whole story you will understand why we need to stop illegal immigration in the first place and return the people currently here back to their rightful home.

  3. Sarah, yes, I have seen this problem too, both in Mexico and in Guatemala. It is a very real area of concern for families. However, the effects that you describe (fathers abandoning families to work in the United States; immigrants facing great dangers trying to cross the border) occur regularly under the program that you advocate (strict immigration laws and deportations), which is the status quo. The problem is that the main driver of immigration is the law of supply and demand. As long as there is an excess supply of labor in one place, and an excess demand for labor in another place, there is going to be immigration.

    The solution to this is to create opportunities for legal immigration commensurate with the actual demand for immigrant labor. This does not necessarily mean citizenship, but it does mean acknowledging that immigrant labor is crucial to our economy and constructing an immigration policy that makes legal the amount of labor that our economy requires. Until that happens, the problems that you describe are only going to get worse.

    In the mean time, I believe that the Church is right on in its insistence that current immigration policy keep families together. The immediate, verifiable harm done to families that are split up by deportation is overwhelming, and the demonstrated ability of such deportations to even address, much less solve the (very real) problems that you identify is almost non-existent.

  4. I never understand the desire to keep people from immigrating. Immigration is basically free economic growth. If you really think your job is going to be stolen by an immigrant (who will also be a consumer), upgrade your skills and network of connections, pal, because no job is safe in a global economy if you’re standing still. And all the supposed crime associated with immigrants from down south…well, we all know what color of skin the drug consumers driving the narco trade have, and it isn’t brown or black. That’s yet another simple case of supply and demand that no amount of border militarization is going to stop.

  5. Clark Goble says:

    I favor increased immigration, but Michael (9:25) I think we should be careful not to confuse supply at a given price with supply. The big debate and why some are so emotionally opposed to immigration is the effect on low skilled workers. It’s not just low skilled issues – a recent issue has been some companies, especially in Silicon Valley, seeking high skilled immigrants who they can pay less. While the overall economic effects of immigration are usually seen as a net gain it is important to recognize there are winners and losers.

    Of course the real solution is improving the economies and governments in most of these locals. Unfortunately it seems very rare that stable governments that can develop the economies get voted in. Things are improving in some places though. While Mexico still has big problems, it’s economy has also significantly progressed the past decades. Not all the population has seen these gains though. Again, educating people so they aren’t stuck as dependent upon low skilled jobs is important.

    Owen (10:18) I think in general our war on drugs has been a disaster. Not just for us but also for countries like Mexico or Columbia. I think we should change our policies significantly but there’s not yet sufficient public willingness to do so.

  6. John Mansfield says:

    Cloak/coat scenarios don’t come up much, but maybe this is one of them.

  7. Anya Tinajero says:

    Thank you Sara and Michael, but only serving your missions in my country (Mexico) doesn´t gives you the right nor the knowledge to speak about the migration phenomenon between Mexico and the US. As a demographer an migrantologist, can picture that this coming back and forward between this two countries won´t stop soon. It´s also about economy, globalizationand in some regions a cultural thing. So I urge you to keep on reading about our history and migration. A picture derived for your 2 years of service doesn´t makes a scientific argument.

  8. your food allergy is fake says:

    Anya, what solutions do you favor?

  9. I have to agree with Sarah above. If we really want to help keep families together, we need to stop illegal immigration altogether and send them back TO THEIR FAMILIES IN MEXICO. Doing the same thing the Reagan admin did will only keep making the problem worse as we have seen. We need to implement e-verify for every business and organization to eliminate the incentive for people to come over illegally while tightening up boarder security and deporting everyone illegally in order to reunite Mexican families (They can take their kids with them and then come back legally together), Only then can we work on expanding LEGAL immigration to bring ENTIRE families over and keep them together. Right now the families are already torn apart and simply giving illegals a free pass will not help fix any of the long term family problems of the third world countries involved. The real problem is controlling our boarder, expanding temporary work permits to get the labor we need and know who is coming over, and then helping people make Mexico the kind of place they want to live and can have opportunities in instead of the dump it is now. Having lived abroad I understand the problems these countries face but until we help people in Mexico, Honduras, (i.e. their own countries) people will always want to come here; but even with the most lenient immigration laws, we simply can’t allow the 6 billion other people in crappy countries to come here. so we have to fix their home countries eventually to solve any of these world problems

  10. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

    – Emma Lazarus

    What a wonderful, noble ideal! Perhaps we should be working toward it, not farther away from it?

  11. Why do some of these sound like “we have to -make- them do the right thing(TM)”? We take individual problems and apply them to whole groups.

    If you want to know why people are risking immigrating illegally, ask them. Then, if you want to try and stop it, fix the problem. Throwing people back without helping to fix the root causes is just feeding the machine.

  12. Anya Tinajero’s not wrong about the deep cultural entrenchment of migrant work. Owing to different patterns of planting and harvest between highland and lowland regions and consequent seasonal variations in demand for labor, there has been large-scale seasonal migration in Mexico and the American Southwest for perhaps thousands of years–certainly for hundreds of years before Cortés showed up. The imposition of a fixed border, which for half of its length is an imaginary line drawn on a map in the 1850s (completely unenforced well into the 20th century, BTW) is a very recent phenomenon in comparison.

  13. The Church has never endorsed the “Obama Administrations [sic] efforts to reform immigration” except in the most general terms, and it is wrong to infer from Pres. Uchtdorf’s attendance at the White House Conference or from the statements he made and the statements issued by the LDS Newsroom after that conference that any particular proposal made by the administration has the Church’s support.

    It’s an even more egregious error to cite the article you did–which described the Utah congressional delegation’s reaction to the President’s executive orders extending “deferred action” in a way that he himself had said a year earlier exceeded his constitutional authority–as evidence that they have ignored the Church’s position and have joined the nativist fringe. It’s altogether possible to favor broad immigration reform which would open a path to U.S. citizenship to the millions here without documents while at the same time believing that the President’s actions do violence to the Constitution, and in particular to Article I which grants to Congress the power to make laws. If believing that makes one a nativist, then I guess I’m a nativist. The clients whom I represent in my immigration practice would be surprised.

  14. Wow, tough crowd, Michael. Anya, thank you for your contribution to the discussion.

  15. Hook 'em Horns says:

    Why didn’t anyone mention Mitt Romney’s approach of self-deportation? Ok….sorry, but I needed a Wednesday laugh.

    Perhaps stricter enforcement of immigration and employment laws already existing, and making the pathway to immigration easier for laborers who want to come to the US. Making immigration easier, allowing them to work legally, and tax them.

    Personally, I’m flattered that I live in a country that people would risk their lives to come to….and do jobs I couldn’t imagine doing.

  16. I don’t think that the Church necessarily endorses an “open borders policy” or amnesty or anything like that. I just think that it is promoting Christ-like love for people that are here in the U.S. and viewing them as people rather than a political football. And many members need that. However, I don’t really think that this attitude is a commentary on the policies that should be in place as far as immigration law goes.

  17. It seems that the article is trying to figure out the way to best keep families together and but it seems to have come to some interesting conclusions about church and what we should believe the church is saying. Other people seem to be trying super hard to ignore the fact that some commenters have made some extremely valid points about other views to consider and possibly better ways to actually keep the families together which would still jive with the very vague church commentary. I guess I don’t see these comments as trying to trample the quote for the statue of liberty, but simply say that just letting everyone come in willy nilly may not be the best way. Also, our country has a duty, for the best interest of the American public, to know who is coming into our country, and a duty for the immigrants to put them into a system where they are legal and can succeed. Even when the tired, poor, etc. passed the statue of liberty they still went to Ellis Island to become official and legal residents. So really, creating a system where we can effectively enforce immigration laws and putting people back in their own countries to legally come through the system is in everyone’s best interest and gives the immigrants and their families the best chance for success. So Sarah and John are pretty spot on and have identified the greater, real problem that current politicians ignore and try to paint as a sad sympathy story for their own greedy political ambitions.

  18. Once the post makes Mark B. upset, the work is done.

  19. If you think the church’s commentary on immigration policy is vague, you really should go back and re-read it. Specifically, the part that clearly states “The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work…” To their credit, 5 of the 17 Republicans running for president also support such an approach (Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore).

    President Obama also (obviously) supports this same approach. You may have issues about the methods the President has attempted to use to move towards this result, but if you criticize the intended result–allowing undocumented immigrants without a criminal background, who have U.S. citizen children in the U.S. or have met specific educational criteria–to stay in the U.S., square themselves with the law, and continue to work–you’re in disagreement with the church.

    I don’t have issues with people who are in disagreement with the church over specific issues. I do have problems with people who pretend they’re in agreement when they really aren’t. (And yes, I’m looking at most LDS politicians here).

  20. By all means, fellow commenters — let’s develop and exoress our Christ-like love. But heaven forbid we let that love influence our policies!

  21. Andrew H. says:

    I don’t know. I guess I don’t feel that bad for them. It’s like listening to people who sign up for the military and then complain about being deployed and not seeing their kids. Or someone who steals something and then is shocked that he is going to jail for breaking the law. When you do these things you know what the consequences are the what can happen. But still they purposefully go to the US to have kids and get them citizenship knowing they are breaking the law and can/will be deported, the same laws they have in Mexico which deports tons of Guatemalans and Hondurans for the same thing, so a little hypocritical. So coming in they know this can and will happen and then they cry foul for knowingly breaking the law. You want to keep your family together, go home together and follow the law.

  22. Mark, I will certainly agree that one can believe in immigration reform and disagree with the mechanism that President Obama used to bring a small part of his platform about. I believe that his actions were consistent with previous executive orders and with the generally acknowledged dividing line between legislation and enforcement (which is always selective in some ways). An order to stop most deportations that split families apart was at least arguably within his executive prerogarive.

    And, of course, it was arguably not within that prerogative. And if Republicans in congress–including the Utah delegation–really believed that the President was overstepping his Constitutional authortiy, then I beleive that they had an obligation to challenge his actions in the federal courts, where, I suspect, they would have won on the Article 1 grounds you cite. The actual challenge, however, is coming from the states and not from Congress, and it is not at all clear to me that the states have standing tio sue the federal government over what is clearly a federal responsibility (controlling the borders).

    What appears to me to be going on is that these Congressional Republicans want the ability to demagogue the separation of powers issue without actually going through the Constitutional process to resolve it. And I strongly suspect that the reason for this is that they know that deporting non-criminal immigrants who are currently providing necessary labor is bad for business, and the real money brokers in the party don’t want it to happen. They are looking for a way to keep the business base of the party happy by what they do while keeping the nativist part of the party happy by what they say.

    I would be more sympathetic to your argument if any of the members of the delegation had either 1) endorsed any of the comprehensive immigration reform initiatives before Congress in the last few sessions; or 2) participated in an effort to block the executive order in the courts as members of Congress rather than through an amicus brief filed in behalf of state governments, who do not have standing to bring the Article I complaint that you mention.

    And I am still waiting for the member of the Utah Congressional Delegation to say anything about immigration that actually does square wth the completely unambigous position that the Church takes in its public statments on immigration reform.

  23. I believe that you’ve got the standing analysis exactly backwards–disputes between Congress and the President are generally not justiciable, and courts are for the most part reluctant to enter into such disputes between the other two branches of government, since such disputes are amenable to political resolution. If Congress believes that the President has exceeded his authority, its recourse is not in the courts, but in political action–either cut off appropriations for the disputed action or pass a law specifically limiting the President’s authority to act in that area.

    On the other hand, the states that have sued the administration over the President’s executive orders have at least alleged a real financial harm–essentially the cost of providing state services to people granted deferred action under the orders–and the states do not have any political recourse. Thus the courts have permitted the lawsuit to proceed.

    I’m not sure where principled objection to presidential overreach becomes demagoguery. My hunch is that we’re inclined to see our allies engaging in principled argument and our opponents in demagoguery. Simply waving the bloody shirt and calling them demagogues doesn’t bring us any closer to understanding each other, or to resolving political disagreements.

    And, on another matter, I have no idea who Chris Henrichsen is or why he thinks I’m upset.

  24. I have no idea who Mark Bulter is, either.

  25. Or Mark Butler for that matter.

  26. And yet, Congress did sue the president on precisely the grounds I suggest, soon after his executive order on immigration, over the Affordible Care Act. In fact, House Republican leaders called a caucus with the specific intent of pursuing a lawsuit over immigration, but, in the end, could not persuade their own members to do it, so they filed a laughably transparent suit alleging that Obama had harmed Congress by delaying implementation of a law that they had already voted 35 times to repeal.

    Might I humbly suggest that, had the opposition to the immigration order been as principled as you suggest, a better course of action for House Republicans, when considering a request from their own leadership to file a lawsuit against precisely that order, might have been to approve that request and forego yet another tilt at the Obamacare windmill?

  27. You may suggest that, humbly or otherwise. But you ignore the possibility that the House Republicans acted in a principled way in refusing to join in a lawsuit of questionable constitutional merit over Obama’s immigration orders, and their unprincipled action was in approving the suit about Obamacare.

    We’ll see how the Obamacare lawsuit fares–it’s still pending in the district court, after a hearing which dealt primarily with whether Congress had standing to bring the lawsuit at all. I’m not very good at predicting what courts will do–but I’ll hazard a guess here: Congress will lose, not on the merits because the courts won’t reach them, but because the courts are not where disputes like this should be resolved.

    At last, Chris Henrichsen says something with which I can agree wholeheartedly. He not only doesn’t know me, but he also doesn’t seem to realize that there is more than one person in the country named Mark Butler. I suspect that he’s confusing me with somebody else, and that simply makes him look silly.

  28. Michael, I’m in agreement with your overall point, as you know, but suggesting that political concerns over both immigration policy and President Obama’s executive actions in regard to such may be dismissed as inconsistent and less than genuine on the basis of evidence provided by the ridiculous actions of the clown-car that is the House Republican caucus isn’t a very strong argument, methinks.

  29. Russell, perhaps, but it was the actions of the Clown Car that I was criticizing in the OP. All I’m saying is that I have a hard time accepting the argument that Obama’s executive order was a Hitler-burning-the-Reichstag-level Constitutional crises from people who, when given the opportunity to use a Constitutional mechanism to address the issue (which their leadership wanted to do) chose instead to take a other ineffectual poke at Obamacare

  30. One thing is very clear. People who enter the country illegally are criminals. That’s what you are when you do something that is against the law. You are a criminal. But I understand people wanting to come here to have a better life (If they really do have a better life). I have witnessed numerous Naturalization events over the past several years and the highest percentage of new citizens come from Mexico. They did it legally. Why can’t everyone else? Maybe the quotas are too low and we need to allow more people to come legally. Whatever the solution might be, we definitely need to find it. Yes, Ardis, we need to love these people. But we can’t just say, “We love you, so we’ll just ignore the fact that you broke the law to get here.”

  31. For the vast majority of people in Mexico, there is no legal way to come and live and work in the U.S. And a huge percentage of undocumented immigrants didn’t come into the U.S. illegally–they just overstayed their visa.

    And the majority of U.S. citizens are “criminals” if the definition of criminal is “you do something that is against the law.” Almost everyone has gone faster than the speed limit. Many fudge on their taxes, or don’t come to a full stop at a stop sign. An immigrant’s reason for being in the U.S. usually consists of “in order to feed myself and my family,” or “in order to escape violence in my hometown.” If only the rest of us could have such good reasons when we do something that is against the law.

  32. Clark Goble says:

    Sharee, I think in terms of language it’s a bit blurrier. For instance it is illegal to drive faster than the posted speed limit. However typically we don’t call speeders (which on I-15 most hours is nearly all drivers) criminals. The question is whether working in the US without papers is more like driving above the speed limit or more like stealing thousands of dollars. It seems people disagree upon that matter.

    My personal feeling is that it is very unfair for some able to come here due to proximity while many others in Asia or Africa are unable to do the same. Those who follow the rules seem penalized while those who break them are rewarded. However to fix this seems to require fixing the system as a whole and there appears to be little interest on either side of doing this. Really the legal side of immigration is a mess and that contributes to the illegal side of things.

    Regarding political parties and their hypocrisy or lack thereof. It is important to always realize that each party is a coalition of groups with often very different views on what is or isn’t constitutional and different views on most issues. Often there are some issues that unite them, although as we’re finding with Trump, sometimes there aren’t. (Trump seems to support few key traditional GOP agreements and the divide between Trump and Bush over immigration is staggering)

    BTW – regarding the photo in the original post. I don’t know why but I find it disturbing. Jesus might not ask for papers, but that doesn’t mean some degree of border integrity is therefore unChristlike. After all Jesus also doesn’t arrest people for theft either. Again I think the immigration policies and programs of the US need deep reform and (to me) more liberalization. (I’m more with Rubio than Trump) That said I find the view of a surprising number of Latinos that the border itself is immoral to be deeply troubling as well. I just don’t understand that and I don’t think the Church is arguing for a libertarian open borders position.

  33. Clark Goble says:

    Tim (9:30) An immigrant’s reason for being in the U.S. usually consists of “in order to feed myself and my family,” or “in order to escape violence in my hometown.”

    Do we know that? I guess if we define “feed my family” very broadly. But often there are jobs in their country, just not ones that pay as well. Mexico’s unemployment rate is about on par with the US for instance. Certainly some people are fleeing violence, especially in central America. I’ve not been able to find any reliable figures on what percent of immigrants are coming for that reason. Further there are many countries in the Americas (including parts of Mexico) with less violence. So I don’t think that explains everything. (Which is not to deny the huge problem of violence and dysfunctional government in a lot of Latin America)

  34. Andrew H., they do not understand the consequences of coming illegally as well as you think they do, and not all of them come from Mexico. I have a friend who has said many times that he would have never come had he more fully understood the consequences. That understanding dawns slowly and by then there are spouses and children involved. It comes down on our part to offering mercy, or demanding justice.

  35. Clark, I agree that the Church is not advocating a libertarian open-border policy (and neither am I). However, the Church has taken a clear and unambiguous position on several immigration issues, and I think that, minimally, conversations like this one should acknowledge that. Anybody who supports deporting a custodial parent of a child who is a US citizen, or who opposes “an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship,” is out of harmony with the Church’s official stance.

    Like Tim, I do not have a problem with this. I myself have taken several positions in my life that are inconsistent with official Church positions. But I generally acknowledge this when I take such positions. I know that you are not taking any such position here and that you have fairly argued for comprehensive immigration reform along the lines of the Church’s official position. However, several commenters on this thread are taking such positions while, at the same time, trying to assert their consistency with the LDS position, which, I believe, is both intellectually and ecclesiastically dishonest.

  36. Ann, while ignorance is a convenient excuse to shift responsibility to the American public, it is now a valid one. First of all, I have lived in Mexico and other central American countries, and while I love the people trust me, they understand very very well what they are doing, what a wall means, why they have to pay coyotes/smugglers, all the routes to avoid authorities, who ICE (la migra) is and they have tons of songs, movies, and culture built around discussing/mocking/condemning deportation. Not only do the vast majority, like 99 %, understand what they getting into, almost every family or at most, extended families has experienced deportation and its consequences so they really do know.

    So the question is then should they be responsible for what they knowingly do to their own families. There are lots of things which I don’t do which would either be convenient or “beneficial” to my family. While I would love to increase my standard of living and could easily do so by breaking a wide variety of laws such as stealing, money laundering, drug dealing, etc. I don’t because I am not willing to chance suffering the consequences of these actions should I get caught. Therefore, in order to be a good father to my children I must be willing to be content with the life I have and do what is legally within my abilities even though I am not rich and life is a struggle sometimes.

    The understanding does not dawn slowly on them, they are simply gambling and like all gamblers, hoping their horrible bets don’t come back to bite them in the a$@. So like all little children until we show them no means no, they will keep pushing the line hoping people like Obama will just role over and give up just because it is easier in the short term, even though it will disastrous in the long term.

  37. The church does not view the violation of immigration laws like it does the stealing, money laundering, drug dealing, etc. It views them more like it does minor traffic offenses.

    For example, undocumented immigrants can do the following (with the church having full knowledge of their immigration status): serve honorable full-time missions in the U.S.; attend the temple; and serve in leadership positions, such as being a branch president.

    The church even ensures that undocumented immigrant missionaries get sent stateside, and has arranged for them to avoid airports and other places where the missionaries may run into ICE (following the ICE arrest of a missionary in the Cincinnati airport a few years back, who was just returning home to his family after serving an honorable full-time mission).

  38. Andrew H. “disastrous in the long term?” And where did your family come from and when? This nation has been built by immigrants. Its strength and vibrancy comes from the courage of people willing to leave all they know forever in order to make a new and better life for themselves and their children, even if they have to do it “illegally.” Soft, over- rich Americans cannot begin to understand that drive. Why are the ones that came in the 1800’s to Utah glorified, but the ones that come now are vilified as criminals?

  39. One thing is very clear. People who drive 70 mph in a 55-mph zone are criminals. That’s what you are when you do something that is against the law. You are a criminal. But I understand people wanting to get to stake conference before the opening hymn (if they really like singing). I have witnessed numerous stake conferences over the past several years and the highest percentage of members arrived on time. They did not have to speed to do it. Why can’t everyone else? Maybe the encouragement to follow traffic laws that they give at the end of the meeting is inadequate and we should remind people about that the day before. Whatever the solution might be, we definitely need to find it. Yes, Ardis, we need to love these people. But we can’t just say, “We love you, so we’ll just ignore the fact that you broke the law to get here.”

  40. Nope. Immigration laws and minor traffic violations are not violations of the criminal code. I actually learned that many years ago from Mark B. (the lawyer from NYC who I do not know but have interacted with many times over the last decade here in the bloggernacle).

    One thing is very clear:

    If you claim that “[p]eople who drive 70 mph in a 55-mph zone are criminals. That’s what you are when you do something that is against the law. You are a criminal…,” you are either an idiot or full of crap. In the age of Trump, I am open to both possibilities.

  41. Yes, we can indeed say “we love you even if you broke the law to get here.” God loves us even when we break all kinds of his laws with great regularity. Can we do any less?

  42. Actually, Chris, years ago it was true that entering the country without papers was only a civil offense, but nowadays it is a misdemeanor under the federal code. That’s beside the point, though.

    Calm yourself a bit, then read my comment again. You might see it in a different light. If not, then just rest assured that I’m full of crap.

  43. Resting assured. Thanks.

  44. My question for the commenters here is…how did your ancestors get here? Because unless you are Native American, I’m not sure any of us can claim to be here “legally.”

  45. Andrew H – ” So like all little children until we show them no means no, they will keep pushing the line . . .”

    Holy crap. I truly hope the people who you loved and trusted you could forgive your outright racism.

  46. Laura Lopez says:

    That’s is THE stupidest solution I’ve heard “keep
    Them together by sending people back to their families” as an undocumented mother and daughter I feel offended that you returned missionaries feel experts on the matter by having just lived there two damn years, Get the [expletive] off.
    Don’t you know the part of the reason our country is poor is because your country as a first world power gets cheap labor even from our country to yours? And your economy would collapse if we leave, hope your Español is enough to take on the jobs our people would leave behind and you can achieve just as fast and hard as they did. Don’t bring me your tweaked statistics, educate yourselves and learn, bring a true message of love and not one of righteous asses to our people.

  47. Laura Lopez says:

    Also remember your ancestors came and took our
    Lands killed our people and drew borders somehow making US the owners of this land “Illegal” which the right term (If you have any manners is UNDOCUMENTED) educate yourselves before you open your mouths

  48. I really appreciate this post. There’s a post up at a conservative bloggernacle site (which shall remain unnamed) that discusses Donald Trump–the author of the post praises his approach to immigration. Not the author nor any of the many commenters mention (yet, at least) the church’s stance on immigration. I’ve noticed in my own community, a conservative small town where almost everyone is LDS, the same ignorance. It’s sad that the church’s approach to immigration is so often forgotten.

  49. The problem is finding out which ones want to work and pay taxes and contribute to the system and find out which ones are here for the free ride, the free food, the red medical, etc and are NOT contributing to the system. It’s not about families when you look at the whole picture. You can have a family of 6 illegal Mexican immigrants and 4 of them work and the other 2 are in gangs and cause problems. So…do you break up the family? Do you send the 2 gang members back to Mexico or do you put them in prison and charge the taxpayer for their stay there? It’s not about families being together.

  50. Laura Laura Laura, once again, the uneducated ignorance and arrogance of illegals is amazing. First of all, you prove the point of why we need to send people back. The brain drain on your country of Mexico can only be reversed if we ship people back home. You give that as the reason to Mexico’s poverty; so lets help them help themselves by putting illegals back.

    Second, even if we send illegals back most people still advocate for expanding temporary worker programs, so we still can get the labor we need and give more people the change to come here LEGALLY (and win win). But even if we didn’t expand those programs, if we simply took our own people on welfare and unemployment and made them work, we could more then make up the difference we need. For example, negros have unemployment up to 20 or 30% depending on the location and believe it or not, they actually used to be pretty handy in the fields. So if we got them off the streets and back in the fields, wa-la, problem solved.

    Finally, don’t play the whole taking lands card blah blah blah. If you lived in Mexico you would see how the majority spanish mexicans oppress and abuse the native indian mexicans who still live there so big fat hypocrites case and piont. Second, this isn’t the 1700s any more. Times have changed, laws have changed, cultures have changed, boarders shift and move. That is life, get over it. People all over the world from the ottoman empire fall in the 1900s to 100 different changes in eastern European boarders over the last 80 years, to latin america’s creation of new states could all claim robbery and unfairness depending on who wants to whine. Fact is, america’s boarders are the way they are and thank heavens because if Texas and Cali were still part of Mexico, they would be sucky, dirty, crime infested ghettos too instead of being amazing, clean powerhouse economies that Mexicans all want to come to.

    So yes, please go home and come back here legally like everyone else. I can’t go to Mexico without the right papers or I will get thrown in jail and probably never come out again. America and legal Americans like me have the right to decide what we want for our country; just like Mexico and Mexican have the right to decide what they want for THIER country (not ours).

  51. That crossed a line, right? I know that I cross it a lot…but still.

  52. Chris, Well…….. while James may not win awards for the most PC post, truth is truth and pretty spot on regardless of what side you stand on. Nothing he says there is incorrect and is a pretty decent rebuttal to all of Laura’s grievances. In fact pretty damned decent ideas I think. Keeps families together by sending them back together or creating temp programs to bring them to US together, lowers crime rates by sending illegals back, reduces unemployment, reduces national debt by cutting need for welfare, by default addresses systemic problems in other minority communities such as african americans, and shows why mexican american war boarder lines where a good thing. Bravo! and win win win for everyone!

  53. Roger, I was not addressing you.

  54. Chris, it is a public forum, everyone is addressing everyone and can comment on everyone’s stuff. That is what makes it interesting.

  55. Roger, this is my first time EVER commenting on a blog. I had no idea.

  56. “Boarder” is not the same thing as “border.” Please learn the difference. Thank you.

  57. Hey Roger! This is not a public forum. What’s amazing is that I, as an admin, can edit or delete or do whatever I like with anyone’s comments. It’s great fun!

    What’s also fun is seeing a bunch of incredibly rich, incredibly _Mormon_ people talk casually about treating other human beings as animals in order to preserve their wealth, all under the guise of “we must uphold the law”.

  58. I really like the image that “boarder” conjures up. You might just think of the traveling salesman staying in Mrs. McGillicuddy’s Boarding House (“Clean rooms, $1.50/week”), but that just proves your lack of imagination. I think of Blackbeard and his fellow desperadoes, pirates of the Spanish Main, boarding a merchant vessel in search of booty. Pirates loved booty, or so I’ve heard! Should we change such boarders? Not in a million years!!

  59. For example, negros have unemployment up to 20 or 30% depending on the location and believe it or not, they actually used to be pretty handy in the fields. So if we got them off the streets and back in the fields, wa-la, problem solved.

    Dear James aka Roger aka Sarah: Please consider using your influence within the Capitol Beltway for good rather than evil.

  60. James, James, James, the amount of incorrect information, bad assumptions, and outright racism is astounding. Please, expound for us how it’d be better if we worked to make sure people in the South (US) wouldn’t migrate to other States. They’d just be hurting themselves and giving us their worst. Oh, better idea, put them into forced labor, since they obviously don’t want to work.

    I’m glad we’re getting some pushback, but it saddens me that members of the Church, or anyone who calls themselves Christian (or even human) can hold so many horrible ideas at once, and spew them out any time someone dares talk about immigration.

  61. Laura Lopez says:

    By all means call me an ignorant and speak for my experiences and first hand knowledge, I sound ignorant let me laugh at your biased and inaccurate arguments. Where did you get your statistics? Keep using your “smart statements” to make me look stupid white rich straight guys, you are far far from understanding the actual situation. And who the hell gives you the right to use the word “Ne…” To whomever use that?

  62. Laura Lopez says:

    By all means look who’s the ignorant one:
    “European boarders” BORDERS BORDERS

    board·er
    ˈbôrdər/
    noun
    1.
    a person who receives regular meals when staying somewhere, in return for payment or services.
    2.
    a person who boards a ship during or after an attack.

    Good try James good Try

  63. Please, please tell me, that James was being satircal (though badly.) If those are his true feelings I think I have to go take a shower.

  64. An Honest Mormon says:

    Interesting how law breakers, here in the United States illegally, try to justify their breaking the law. Instead of following United States Immigration laws legally, they sneak in under the fence, or swim under the fence, or climb over the fence, overstay their visa and then try to use “Keep My Family Together to justify their law breaking. You are terrible examples of Mormons who are supposed to follow and obey the law of the land, namely the United States of America. Go back to South America and come here legally you half Mormons.

  65. Whuck

  66. Sidebottom says:

    The real question is “did they immigrate on the Sabbath”?

  67. Dear “Honest Mormon” (if that is your real name)

    When you express a sentiment like this that so clearly and unambiguously rejects an official statement of the Church, you need to at least preface it with, “I disagree with the Prophet on this issue, but . . . .” Otherwise, you are not being an honest Mormon, just a ridiculous troll.

  68. “Honest Mormon”, please tell us how you’ve never broken a law, not even the speed limit (“but the speed of traffic was this fast!”), then try to imagine how disproportionate it would be if we took someone who broke the speed limit, including whatever family was in the car, separate each of you in different facilities while you wait weeks (if not months) to be processed through the system.

    It’s easy to jump on the “it’s illegal!” as if all law breaking were equal. The problem is that we’re treating families and children as if they were hardened criminals. I truly wish we could get to treating non-Americans with the same consideration we should be treating Americans. If other countries treated illegal Americans this poorly, we’d be close to going to war. We’re acting like a bully wanting to keep all the toys to ourselves and finding any excuse we can to rationalize our actions.

  69. Why would the family separate? The daughter is free to go back to Mexico with her illegal parents… oh wait, you mean it’s her choice to separate? She chooses America over her family? I’m not impressed by these sort of naive attempts at emotional manipulation.

  70. The overt racism in many of these comments is shocking. Also, fwiw, I’ve been an illegal immigrant. While serving in Honduras I overstayed my visa, just like every other u.s. missionary in the country. I guess that means I was a criminal and a half Mormon at the time.

  71. CJ Missionary says:

    I´m currently serving as a missionary in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, right across a muddy river from Texas. I can´t even begin to express the difference between the two sides of the border. Yes, there are jobs in Mexico. But the insinuation that such jobs are enough to comfortably support a family, much less provide the base needed to emigrate to the US (legally), is completely unfounded. I´ve seen families with both parents working 12 hours daily still barely scraping by, without enough money to send their oldest children to school any longer. Permission to work and immigration possibilities are generally afforded to the affluent; it truly is desperation that pushes most across the border.

    Lawful immigration is a near non-possibility for most. The painting of illegal immigration as a willful choice to break the law is ignoring a host of other factors in families´ often painful decisions to cross.

  72. I think what An Honest Mormon means is that illegals have rabbit blood.

    (For any of the sarcasm-impaired who may be reading this, I am comparing this commenter to the slave-owning racists of the old American South.)

  73. You know, I wonder if it is divine intervention that this issue comes up at the same time as Same Sex marriage.

    My guess is that most Latter-Day Saints (Certainly myself) have a much easier time supporting the official position of the Church on one of these issues, but not the other.

    And that most will feel more comfortable supporting “The Law of the Land” on one than the other.

    It makes me a better Mormon, and a better person to be reminded that my most glib arguments on one side argue against my ideas on the other. It helps me to remember that I would like to treat my fellow saints who are struggling with the Issues I find easy the way I would like to be treated on the ones I struggle with.

    laughing at myself helps too.