Following the Prophet on Immigration

jacob-to-egypt-by-chagall

Marc Chagall, “Jacob Leaves His Country and His Family to Go to Egypt,” 1931.

“A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.” — Deut. 26:5-7 (NSRV)

In twenty years of writing about Mormon issues, I have written only one thing that simply quotes an official Church statement, endorses it enthusiastically, and urges others to follow the prophet. I normally hate posts like this. But I did it last week, right here on BCC, in this blog post about immigration reform.

The comment section of this post contains some ugly things that I am ashamed to have my name associated with. If you read them (which I don’t recommend), you will find several commenters telling undocumented immigrants that they are ignorant, arrogant society-destroyers who should go back where they came from. You will find people comparing immigrant children to hardened criminals, and even one one referring to undocumented members of the Church as “half-Mormons.” Yes, these are actual human beings talking to and about other  human beings in response to an official statement from the Church calling members to treat each other with dignity and respect.

Desperate times call for desperate blog posts, so here I go again.

The Church’s official position on immigration reform contains clear and unambiguous recommendations. It is not one of those “pray-about-it-and-let-your-conscience-be-your-guide” things. It claims that there are important moral principles at stake in the debate and clear policy implications that flow from those principles:

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.

With careful reading and nuanced interpretation, we can discern from this statement that the Church would support an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work. The key passage for this interpretation is the one that says, “The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work.” You can trust me here; this is my day job.

This is the Church’s position on immigration in the United States, which means that deporting all undocumented immigrants, and breaking up families in the process, is NOT the Church’s position on immigration in the United States. If you are a Latter-day Saint in the United States, and you favor deporting all undocumented immigrants who are already here, then you support something that the Church opposes. And if you do not believe that undocumented immigrants should be allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work, then you oppose something that the Church supports.

Now, this is fine with me. I’m the last person who has any right to criticize someone for not supporting a specific political position of the LDS Church. But let’s not play make believe. If you favor things that the Church opposes, and you oppose things that the Church supports, then you cannot say that you accept the council of the Brethren “in all things.” You might say that you accept their counsel “in some things,” or “in most things,” or possibly even “in all things but one.” But if you say you stand 100% with the leaders of the Church, when you clearly don’t, you are being dishonest.

And there is more at stake here than simply disagreeing with the Church on a matter of politics. The statement also opines that “the bedrock moral issue for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” is “how we treat each other as children of God.” This is more than just a political proposal; it is a moral imperative. If you don’t treat people as children of God (hint: “go back home you half-Mormons” doesn’t qualify), you are not just disagreeing with a Church-supported policy; you are disobeying the prophet on a bedrock moral principle. This is serious stuff if you are the sort of person who believes in things like bedrock moral principles.

The Church has never spoken more clearly on a contemporary political issue. How we treat each other matters. How we talk about other people matters. How we engage in the political process in ways that affect other people matters. And how we receive the occasional wandering Aramean in our midst matters a lot when we are claiming to be disciples of a God who sees people’s oppression—and of a Church that cares greatly about how we treat each other as children of God.

Comments

  1. Superb, Michael.

  2. Mary Lythgoe Bradford says:

    As usual, right on! I support you and my church on this important issue. Are we not all immigrants?

  3. Thank you, this was excellent.

    This brings to my mind a talk by bishop Causse gave two years ago:
    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/ye-are-no-more-strangers?lang=eng

  4. “You can trust me here; I’m a professor. This is my day job.” Ahh, yes the Michael Behe approach.

    I would normally applaud the church and its members for taking such a stand if there weren’t aspects of it which seem to be disingenuous. Most of the discussion centers around a very specific type of immigration: unskilled manual laborers who can be hired at very low wages for the strict and sole purpose of increasing their employer’s profits. Advocating for keeping families together while not simultaneously arguing for moral wages and benefits seems to miss the important part of how we treat each other as children of God. As someone who has driven thru Watsonville many times, it remains astounding that produce prices can’t increase 1% to pay laborers more. No one seems to be advocating for this.

    Also left unspoken is that one of the few places the church seems to be doing well is South America which partially explains the recent concern. There were many, many different kinds of debates about immigration in the mid-90’s about highly skilled tech workers from places where the church doesn’t fare as well such as India. Nary a word. So yes, a wonderful position which I support, but it sounds self serving.

  5. John Mansfield says:

    12 million undocumented immigrants? I thought there were only 11 million. And how many of them still consider themselves undocumented immigrants? Half of them probably haven’t been to a meeting of undocumented immigrants since the day they entered the United States.

  6. carolinesue says:

    Thank you so much for writing forthrightly about this, Michael. This needs clear thinking and discussion, not biased and thoughtless name calling etc. Well done!

  7. Jeff: “it remains astounding that produce prices can’t increase 1% to pay laborers more. No one seems to be advocating for this.”

    Lots of people are advocating for this. But you’re right, the root causes need to be examined.

  8. John Mansfield says:

    An interesting quality of immigrant labor:

    “In 2014, foreign-born mothers with children under 18 years old were less likely to be
    labor force participants than were native-born mothers–59.1 percent versus 73.1 percent.
    Labor force participation differences between foreign-born and native-born mothers were
    greater among those with younger children than among those with older children. The labor
    force participation rate of foreign-born mothers with children under age 6 was 50.1
    percent in 2014, much lower than that for native-born mothers with children under age 6,
    at 68.2 percent. Among women with children under age 3, the participation rate for the
    foreign born (45.4 percent) was 19.7 percentage points below that for native-born mothers
    (65.1 percent). The labor force participation rates of foreign-born and native-born fathers
    with children under age 18 were more similar, at 93.8 percent and 92.4 percent,
    respectively.”

    Bureau of Labor Statistics Economic News Release

  9. So here is where I am confused on the Church’s position. The 12th Article of Faith states: We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

    I see from the statement that they support a way for those here illegally to “square themselves with the law.” But that acknowledges that these individuals who are here are specifically NOT obeying, honoring, or sustaining our laws.

    This is not me targeting a specific group of people due to their race, culture, or ethnicity. This is me saying, “Why aren’t we teaching our members to uphold the 12th Article of Faith? Why aren’t we encouraging members to strengthen and improve the places in which they live and should that not be possible, apply for citizenship in other countries according to the law of the land in those countries?”

    I agree we should treat each other as children of God with compassion for all. As the same time, the 12 Article of Faith clearly tells us we need rule of law. How many times were the early Saints oppressed under the rule of law and how many times did the Lord tell them to sustain the Constitution and the law of the land?

    If the laws of the land are too onerous for people to emigrate here legally, then shouldn’t we advocate to change those laws instead of favoring an approach that allows people to snub the rule of law until laws are changed to suit them? Because if that is the message, then aren’t we in essence telling members of the church in other countries to ignore the rule of law, come on in, and we’ll support a way being created for you to eventually sustain the law?

    To be clear, I believe that immigration law in this country is a mess and that there are changes that need to be made. I absolutely believe the bedrock moral issue guiding that conversation should be that we treat each other as children of God. But I also believe that the 12th Article of Faith is still relevant to the conversation and that the Lord did not intend for it to apply to some of His children but not to others.

  10. Beautifully stated! It is ironically often the Iron Rod Mormons (many of whom insist on nearly blind obedience) who express disagreement with the brethren over illegal immigration. In fact, jettboy, one of the most orthodox permabloggers on the Millennial Star blog who also regularly trolls liberal blogs such as BCC criticizing critical thinking Mormons for not blindly obeying the leaders, expressed his disagreement with the brethren over illegal immigration and Boy Scouts of America (http://www.millennialstar.org/trying-to-explain-the-donald-trump-support/). I guess for him the church leaders were not homophobic and xenophobic enough.

  11. Brad, invoke not that name, lest he appear in this thread.

  12. I missed your original post and couldn’t resist reading it and the comments. Yikes!

  13. John M., what are the stats for “native-born” Mormon women with children under 18 as participants in the labor force as compared to “native-born” non-Mormon women?

    Caroline: “How many times were the early Saints oppressed under the rule of law and how many times did the Lord tell them to sustain the Constitution and the law of the land?”

    How many times were the Saints forced out of their home towns and countries by a situation that they could not improve internally and found themselves as refugees, seeking a new place to build a better life for themselves? If you were there at the time, would you have admonished them that instead of hitting the road as refugees in the dim chance of finding a better life for themselves and their children in some other far away place they should stay put and try to “improve the places in which they live”?

  14. Mark Brown says:

    We need to remember that when Brigham Young led the saints into the Great Basin in 1847, the territory they occupied was part of Mexico. Our forebears intentionally left the United States and entered Mexico as undocumented refugees.

  15. John Mansfield says:

    John F., here are a couple items a short search turned up. They both address workforce participation of Mormon women, not specifying whether they have children in the home or their national origins.

    Jana Riess addressed a couple studies in 2013 and asked “How Many Mormon Women Work Outside the Home?” “The answer hinges on what we mean by ‘work.’ If it’s full-time, then no; Mormon women ‘are only 60 percent as likely to work full time as women nationally.'”

    The NY Times has a nifty county level map of women’s workforce participation. (“Where Working Women Are Most Common”, Jan. 6, 2015.) “Female employment rates are relatively low in some fairly affluent areas, including Utah and other heavily Mormon areas — as well as on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The East 80s and the suburbs of Salt Lake City may be very different places, but both have local cultures with a bent toward stay-at-home parenting, which still is far more likely to be done by mothers.”

    . . .

    “Heavily Mormon areas are a throwback. Their high levels of social capital — including civic engagement and two-parent families — help create good economic conditions, according to multiple measures. In parts of the Salt Lake region, for example, less than 10 percent of prime-age men are not working — a rate that approaches the low nationwide rate of the 1950s and 1960s. At the same time, the male-dominated nature of Mormon culture has kept nonemployment rates for prime-age women extremely high — as high, in some areas, are they were for American women in the 1950s.

    “In several census tracts around Salt Lake City, more than 90 percent of prime-age men are working, but more than 30 percent of women are not. The contrast is even starker around Provo, which is more strongly Mormon than Salt Lake. In one tract in Utah County, 46 percent of prime-age women are not working, according to our estimates, while only 8 percent of men are not.

    “The parts of Nevada, Idaho and Arizona that are heavily Mormon show similar patterns.”

  16. John Mansfield says:

    John F., here are a couple items a short search turned up. They both address workforce participation of Mormon women, not specifying whether they have children in the home or their national origins.

    Jana Riess addressed a couple studies in 2013 and asked “How Many Mormon Women Work Outside the Home?” “The answer hinges on what we mean by ‘work.’ If it’s full-time, then no; Mormon women ‘are only 60 percent as likely to work full time as women nationally.'”

    The NY Times has a nifty county level map of women’s workforce participation. (“Where Working Women Are Most Common”, Jan. 6, 2015.) “Female employment rates are relatively low in some fairly affluent areas, including Utah and other heavily Mormon areas — as well as on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The East 80s and the suburbs of Salt Lake City may be very different places, but both have local cultures with a bent toward stay-at-home parenting, which still is far more likely to be done by mothers.”

    . . .

    “Heavily Mormon areas are a throwback. Their high levels of social capital — including civic engagement and two-parent families — help create good economic conditions, according to multiple measures. In parts of the Salt Lake region, for example, less than 10 percent of prime-age men are not working — a rate that approaches the low nationwide rate of the 1950s and 1960s. At the same time, the male-dominated nature of Mormon culture has kept nonemployment rates for prime-age women extremely high — as high, in some areas, are they were for American women in the 1950s.

    “In several census tracts around Salt Lake City, more than 90 percent of prime-age men are working, but more than 30 percent of women are not. The contrast is even starker around Provo, which is more strongly Mormon than Salt Lake. In one tract in Utah County, 46 percent of prime-age women are not working, according to our estimates, while only 8 percent of men are not.

    “The parts of Nevada, Idaho and Arizona that are heavily Mormon show similar patterns.”

    [I tried including URLs, but that embargoed the comment. I will try leaving the URLs in separate comments.]

  17. John Mansfield says:

    Well, the blog doesn’t allow me any more URLs. The link above to the BLS is all I get for the day.

  18. Further (to Mark Brown’s history), one of my great-grandfathers was born in Mexico and he and his family (and about 4,200 others) escaped over the border to Texas in 1912 during the Mexican revolution (Pancho Villa and etc.) This great-grandfather is Henry Eyring, father of Henry Eyring the first counselor in the First Presidency.
    Send them back? Send us back?
    To put it another way, the Church’s position on immigration is the right way to treat children of God, and also completely understandable as a matter of history.

  19. Will someone please forward this to my dad? Thx

  20. Caroline, the question is which do you emphasize when they come into conflict: defending the family or defending broken immigration laws? In the real world, you can’t always have everything you want and you have to choose between sub-optimal alternatives. Can you really say that if your family was threatened by extreme poverty or war you wouldn’t break arbitrary laws and risk your own safety to protect them? That is the heart of this matter–love and humanity trump many laws, and societies must cope with that reality. Most people break speed limit laws every day for worse reasons. Not all undocumented immigrants fit the image I just invoked, but the fact remains that they are our brothers and sisters and deserve humane treatment regardless. The brethren leading the Church certainly understand the tension you described and have decided to go with focusing on doing the work of Christ rather than the work of the state.

  21. I agree with the church’s statement on immigration and I’m glad it was made. My ancestors had a similar story to Christian Kimball’s. I’m just not a big fan of the, “I support this position because I follow the prophet and anyone who disagrees does not” card. There just seems to be an inconsistency when taking that position whether the issue is immigration or same-sex marriage.

    Changing deeply held political beliefs takes time. I am trying to be more charitable for the members who are going through that process.

  22. Like most issues, it’s difficult to fully understand the real-world impact of immigration until you know and love someone whose life is directly impacted by it. Several years ago I taught early morning seminary in the San Diego area. One of my students was an illegal immigrant who, at the age of 16, led her younger siblings across the border into California from Mexico. She was an exceptional young woman — smart, brave, tender, strong. If DHS had shown up at my door looking for with her, I would have told them to pound sand. To deny such people a pathway to stay in this county legally and enrich all of our lives is obscene, especially when so many of them are fleeing horrendous conditions.

  23. >I’m just not a big fan of the, “I support this position because I follow the prophet and anyone who disagrees does not” card. There just seems to be an inconsistency when taking that position whether the issue is immigration or same-sex marriage.

    Marc, that’s not actually Mike’s position. He’s not a wielder of FoTPiGS (Follow the Prophet Guilt Stick) himself but is just pointing out the consistency of those who typically wield FoTPiGS on other issues but not on this one because it happens to contradict *their* political views for once.

  24. Marc, I think there is a little difference between the SSM and immigration cases. The motivations of those who disagree with the Church on SSM have a lot to do with feelings of charity for those (LGBT) adversely affected by the Church’s stance. However, the motivations of those who disagree with the Church on immigration are, very often in my experience, quite the opposite. In the one case people are erring on the side of compassion while in the other they are erring on the side of fear and hate. Does this describe everyone? Of course not, but the tendencies are obvious across the western world. Whether it’s the Irish or Eastern Europeans, or the Chinese or, now, Hispanics, Americans have had a hard time debating immigration policy without acting and speaking in deeply unchristian ways.

  25. I’m glad you brought this up Michael. It was the reaction among conservatives you described above that helped me notice the same trend concerning military issues. Just as many conservative Mormons seem to ignore or down play words on immigration, many pacifists and isolationists cherry pick who they’ll listen to about warfare. You could maybe argue there is a difference in specificity or the relative weight of the documents involved, but the principle is the same. When a prophet agrees with a persons opinion, that person tends to value it far more than when it doesn’t. I don’t have anything in particular to add about immigration, but I did notice the principle you described in regards to foreign policy views of members as well. I’ve seen this cherry picking so much, you could almost say its the “false god they worship.” Thanks again for the post.

  26. John Mansfield says:

    How deeply are any of you on the giving end of this coat/cloak situation? If I still lived in the home I did as a child and a youth, I would be zoned for Sunrise Mountain High School in Las Vegas. It opened six years ago and two years ago was designated by the school district as a “turn-around” school so extra resources could be thrown at it to do things like raise the graduation from 42%. (It’s now up to 48%.) The student body is 71% Hispanic, also quite a change from my day. The elementary school I attended is in turn-around status as well, and the new middle school. My neighborhood and schools were nothing special, just home, but they weren’t dysfunctional.

    So how about the rest of you big-hearted lovers of humanity? Any love for those Americans impacted in hard ways by immigration? I get the idea you don’t really believe they exist, or matter.

  27. John, yes.

  28. John Mansfield says:

    I also came across another interesting figure last week in a list of the top twenty occupations according to the percentage of workers who are undocumented immigrants. Roofer was number 3, with 31% undocumented. My father supported his family with a paycheck from a roofing company and got a number of my cousins hired on.

  29. John, I live in Chicago, and send my kids to public schools here. I’m perfectly aware of the educational issues attendant to poverty, and to non-native English speakers.

    And honestly, the arguments you implicate can and have been made about racially integrating schools. But in my and my kids’ experience, integration (racial or national) doesn’t drag down the high-performing students. It does help to lift other students though.

    So yes, many of us are aware of Americans impacted by, inter alia, immigration. Some of us are those Americans. And it’s not a bad thing.

  30. Also, John, the research is mixed on the effect of immigration on native wages; from what I’ve seen, there’s a certain focus on complimentarity. That is, your father may not be able to support a family in roofing today, but the additional demand of immigrant roofers raises the collective wealth and demand, meaning that another industry would open up.

    I’m far from an expert in the economics of immigration, and immigration may well have an impact on native wages, but it’s not clear what that impact is, and it likely either isn’t negative or is, at worst, slightly negative. The simplistic static model of “Immigrants are in roofing, so my dad wouldn’t be able to make a living” is economically untenable.

  31. John Mansfield says:

    Sam, what’s the graduation rate at the high school you’re children are zoned for, and, as a rough proxy for immigrant families, what is the percentage of Hispanic students? Under 50% for the first and over 50% for the second?

  32. John Mansfield says:

    Sorry about that “you’re.”

  33. RJH:

    “This is more than just a political proposal; it is a moral imperative. If you don’t treat people as children of God (hint: “go back home you half-Mormons” doesn’t qualify), you are not just disagreeing with a Church-supported policy; you are disobeying the prophet . . .”

    That reads like a wielding of the FoTPiGS(1) stick to me. I agree with Mike that those who wield the stick are inconsistent. But that criticism cuts both ways.

    Owen:

    I hear you. I agree with you on immigration. But, as you acknowledge, you cannot put everyone into a box on this issue. Many opponents of immigration reform take the position that it is difficult for a country in debt to have both a social safety net and open borders. There is merit to that position. I disagree that the majority who hold it are motivated by fear or hate.

    1. RJH: nice work on the acronym!

  34. As a more conservative person, both in my politics and in my religious stances, I think the church’s position on what to do with illegal immigrants is the only Christian one there is. I believe in the rule of law and I don’t think that illegal immigration should be allowed to occur and that we should do more to curb it in the future. But it has, with 12 million people. The vast majority of whom don’t break laws (besides coming/staying here illegally.)

    I served my mission in Utah, among Spanish speaking people. Elder Ballard spoke to our mission once in St. George and the question was asked if illegal immigrants could go to the temple because some of the local members disagreed. It is the only time I have seen an apostle get upset. Elder Ballard said that absolutely they could and that he would hate to have to try to justify leaving them out of the temple to Heavenly Father because of which side of the border they were on.

  35. Aside from the poem on the Statue of Liberty, which was posted in the previous thread, the other quote that comes to my mind whenever immigration is discussed is from the Old Testament: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you.”

    Are we not all, in our own ways, slaves in Egypt, redeemed by God? Should we not welcome the foreigner, and treat him well, and reserve the sweepings of the field?

  36. ABM, it’s funny you raise that question because we had a similar conversation at a family dinner recently and someone asked that very question, “How can a member claim to be honest in all their dealings with their fellow man if they are living in this country illegally?” We have several members in our Ward who I know are undocumented and I explained that I never asked anyone their citizenship status when I interviewed them for a temple recommend and I didn’t think the Lord particularly cared either given the Church’s stance on immigration.

    I am baffled by those who take such sharp stances on immigration reform. It is not Christian. Peter said (1 Peter 2:11-16),

    11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims [the NIV uses the adjectives foreigners and exiles], abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

    12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

    13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

    14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

    15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

    16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

    That sounds quite in alignment with the stance the Church has taken on immigration.

    In response to John I live very close to what you describe. A third of our Stake is Spanish speaking and easily half the youth are Spanish speaking. I work closely with them and we’ve had to contemplate questions like, “Can we call this Brother or Sister to work in Scouts?” Because doing so would subject them to the background check the BSA requires and could cause problems due to their lack of documentation. I’ve invited brothers who were struggling for work because they don’t have a SSN to come and do work on my home and seen a shocked look on their face when I insisted that they were charging to little and paid them the wage I knew other contractors had quoted to me.

    The schools my children attend are excellent, highly ranked in the State and in the US but they’re different from many of our peer schools. We don’t rank quite as high as our 99% white/Asian peer schools because we take in a whole section of the community that is entirely Hispanic (immigrants) and as teachers, parents and a community we go to great lengths to raise these children up to their true potential. We did a survey of the families who send children to our elementary school and determined that there were 43 different primary languages spoken in those homes. We have immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Central and South America. They’ve all come looking for greater opportunity and our children are richer culturally and educationally for the experiences they gain as a result of that mixture.

    I would ask, what do you mean whether I have “any love for those Americans impacted in hard ways by immigration?” How many Americans are there who are really impacted in hard ways by immigration? How much of it is due to globalization and agreements like NAFTA rather than the fault of some family who came to this country seeking greater opportunity for their children? The vast majority of the immigrant families I know are not the ones struggling on welfare but instead are pursuing whatever venture they must in order to put food on the table and offer improvement to their children. The perpetual welfare queens I have dealt with are very consistently those who have direct claims to citizenship and have learned to abuse the system to the point that it is institutional for them.

  37. If school quality and dropout rates are a concern, may I recommend what one of my single wards in a diverse, immigrant-rich community did? Once a week the ward would hold one-on-one tutoring sessions at the ward house. Most of the students being tutored were immigrants, or had parents who were immigrants. I worked evenings at the time and was unable to participate on a regular basis, although I did have the opportunity to sub in once or twice. It was a great ongoing service project for members of the singles ward, it benefited these kids tremendously, and it also ended up being good for church/community relations.

  38. Thank you for not backing down in the face of the ugliness on the first post. I haven’t read all comments here — I stopped reading when they began approaching the ugliness of the first discussion. I think you may need to continue this with a third and perhaps fourth post.

    And at what point am I justified in unfriending Mormons on Facebook whose posts and comments are so far from meeting the standard of the Church in this issue? So far I have merely unfollowed — I’m almost ready for a mass purge.

  39. Manuel Villalobos says:

    Just to answer Caroline portion of her question:

    “Why aren’t we encouraging members to strengthen and improve the places in which they live and should that not be possible, apply for citizenship in other countries according to the law of the land in those countries?”

    Narrowing the scope of the question, I am going to focus on immigration to the United States of America. The simplified answer is this: there is no realistically actionable path to citizenship for the bast majority of people who wish to immigrate to the country. This is perhaps one of the most comfortable/convenient misconceptions “Why don’t they do it legally?” Simple answer: the system is established in such a way it is virtually impossible for most to legally immigrate.

    Also, the rest of your post takes a rather black and white tone when it comes to the Church and immigration practices and borderlines. I would recommend reading the specifics of the Latter-day Saint migration to the Salt Lake Valley.

    They were literally illegal immigrants invading Mexico.

    They were kicked out of the United States for reasons that are much more serious than today’s conservative arguments against immigrants. Their culture (their deviant approach to marriage, namely polygamy, which was an affront to the traditional marriage established by “the God of the Bible”) and their economic system, to mention two.

    Therefore, I am not sure that your black and white stance on upholding the laws, especially when it comes to immigration, can be as puritanically shared by the Church as you suggest they should.

  40. John Mansfield says:

    People, please review the order of events surrounding the U.S. declaration of war on Mexico (May 13, 1846), and the arrival of Mormons in Salt Lake City (July 24, 1847). The sloppiness is irritating me.

  41. brian larsen says:

    John Mansfield, please review the information about when Utah became an official US territory; 1848.

  42. “How many times were the Saints forced out of their home towns and countries by a situation that they could not improve internally and found themselves as refugees, seeking a new place to build a better life for themselves? If you were there at the time, would you have admonished them that instead of hitting the road as refugees in the dim chance of finding a better life for themselves and their children in some other far away place they should stay put and try to “improve the places in which they live”?”

    John F it wouldn’t be me who admonished them to to improve the place in which they live–that was the Lord. If you study the Doctrine and Covenants, it’s filled with the Lord telling the Saints what they must do in order to hold Zion, and the counsel was to improve themselves spiritually and sustain the law. They didn’t leave Missouri or Illinois because they wanted to–they left because they were forced out by gun point. They tried to improve their community through all of it. They lived through poverty and sacrificed some more because the Lord commanded them to do so. Throughout all of it the Lord told them to sustain the law.

    But to share a more recent example–am I the only one who remembers the Church encouraging LDS Chinese immigrants in the 1990s to return to their homeland and build the Church there? I remember that counsel very clearly because I worked with a pair of LDS Chinese immigrants at BYU and wondered what their decision would be. They were in the country legally, they had worked hard to be there, had followed the law and what did the Church ask them to do? Give it up and go home and improve their own country and share the gospel at great personal risk to themselves.

    The idea that we are to build Zion where we stand is not new and it didn’t come from me. The 12th Article of Faith is not new and the Lord applied it to the Saints even in the most terrible of circumstances. My pointing this out is not me being mean or lacking compassion or not wanting to treat people as children of God. This is something I’ve pondered a lot–I have wondered if I could stand firm in the faith, following the 12th Article of Faith, wondering why I’m sustaining the law when no one else around me is doing so. Could I be uncomfortable, in danger, starving and/or watching my children suffer through that with me and pray only to get the response from the Lord to be patient in my afflictions and sustain the law and still stay faithful?

  43. I’m with you on this one, Michael (and with the church).

    Also, putting aside, but not discounting, the moral issue, there is no practical way we can deport 12 million immigrants. As John McCain said when he ran for president: “When you’ve allowed 12 million immigrants to reside in your country for 20+ years, you already have an immigration policy.”

    There are certain issues, such as prohibition and immigration, where the economic incentives will always trump any illegal initiative to stop the human behavior in question. Fashioning public policy without taking into account this behavioral element will always lead to failure.

  44. And while I’m on the subject of the practical aspects of this issue, I suspect that most, if not all, of those who had visceral reaction to your first post on this issue are Republican, a party that has no hopes regaining the White House unless it adopts a more moderate immigration policy. One of George Will’s recent columns in The Washington Post contains a persuasive quantitative analysis of this issue: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-losing-immigration-policy/2015/08/21/b58a6d9e-4771-11e5-846d-02792f854297_story.html

    The bottom line for the GOP is simple: find a way to make peace with the Latin community on immigration or else resign yourself to ceding the White House to the Democrats for the foreseeable future.

  45. You don’t remember the Chinese situation quite accurately, Caroline. The counsel was not given in general to Chinese immigrants to the US. It was given to Chinese students and professionals who had come to the US not as permanent residents, but as relatively short-term students and trainees. They came to the US under those terms, joined the Church, and then considered staying in the US because there was so little LDS presence in China. The Church asked them to keep their original agreement and return to China.

    that’s a very different situation from one where people come to the US, under whatever circumstances they come, intending to stay permanently in the US. You’re trying to make it sound as though the Church prefers that people “go back where they came from,” which is not supported by the case of the Chinese students.

    And what hubris leads you, under any circumstances, to declare that you are the righteous one sustaining law when “no one else around [you] is doing so”?

  46. “And what hubris leads you, under any circumstances, to declare that you are the righteous one sustaining law when “no one else around [you] is doing so”?”

    She’s the one going the speed limit in the left lane on I-15, 15 mph slower than the people passing her on the right, wondering why everyone’s giving her dirty looks and the bird.

  47. please review the information about when Utah became an official US territory; 1848.

    As long as we’re flinging around dates, note that the above statement is inaccurate due to that pesky indefinite article “an”: The land that is now known as Utah became US territory with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago in February 1848, but it didn’t become “an official US territory” until September 1850 with the passing of the Organic Act.

  48. Mark Brown says:

    John Mansfield, the Clark county, NV school district has all kinds of problems, and for you to suggest that the presence of large numbers of immigrant students is the cause of poor performance is not only sloppy, but laughable.

    I have family living in one of the best public school districts in TX, and the Hispanic students outnumber native born Americans (both black and white together).

  49. John Mansfield says:

    Mark, you seem to have some particular observations of Clark County in mind, and you may know some things I don’t. Problems I know of are growth and size, the first of course contributing to the later, and immigration being the current major growth factor. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal two years ago:
    “They’re called a minority, but Friday showed that Hispanics are anything but in the nation’s fifth-largest school district.
    “In this school year’s official head count, which took place that day, Hispanic students outnumbered any two other ethnicities combined in the Clark County School District. Their numbers are rising at twice the rate that the Caucasian student population is declining.”
    . . .
    “Exactly a decade ago, 44 percent of the district’s students were Caucasian and 33 percent were Hispanic. As of Friday, that was switched. Just over 44 percent of students are now Hispanic. Caucasians are at 28 percent.”
    . . .
    “Why does this matter?
    “The Clark County School Board and district officials have been trying to improve student performance for years. But as Hispanic students increase in number, so does the scope of the challenges they bring to the district, according to state test results and graduation rates that show them lagging behind other student groups.
    “State tests are first given in third grade. While 83 percent of Caucasian third-graders meet standards in math, only 66 percent of Hispanic students are at the same place. While 75 percent of Caucasian third-graders read at grade level, barely half of Hispanic students can do the same.
    “That state test continues into eighth grade. About 72 percent of those Caucasian students meet math standards compared to 53 percent of Hispanics. About 63 percent of those Caucasians read at grade level compared to 38 percent of Hispanics.
    “Having more students also creates more problems for the cash-strapped district that can’t afford to build new schools.”

    As I think of how well served I was by my neighborhood’s schools, and wonder how a boy living where I did would manage today, I don’t find it laughable. We always had Hispanics in Las Vegas; some of my cousins are children of Mexican fathers; we didn’t have massive, rapid changes like this. That great school district in Texas, which is it? How much change has it experienced over the last decade?

  50. Caroline (and others), the 12th Article of Faith is something of a red herring. True it contains the word “obeying”, but that doesn’t mean strict obedience to every law all the time. There are numerous counter-examples, immigration laws being just one in a long list. Rather, in modern terminology I would read it more like “subject to” or “pay attention to” or even “hearken to”.

    I think the easiest way to understand the 12th AoF is by positing the opposite, the contra statement. It isn’t “we believe in breaking the law”—nobody would think that or suggest it! Rather, the contra statement that is negated by the 12th AoF is something like “we believe in establishing the kingdom of God on earth”. This was a genuine alternative. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Mormons in Nauvoo, and Mormons in Utah territory, were all accused of separating from the state. Whatever you think of who was right and who was wrong, the very fact of the Utah War demonstrates that kingdom building was a serious question. President James Buchanan sent U.S. forces to the Utah Territory in 1857-1858 to exert control and federal authority, concerned about Brigham Young (then territorial governor) running a theocracy, with ecclesiastical leaders elected to political office and receiving administrative appointments, Mormons dominating the legislature and the courts, Mormons using ecclesiastical courts rather than the territorial and federal court system, the open practice of polygamy, and more.

    Talmadge cites the cessation of polygamy as an illustration of the suspension of “Divine law” (Talmadge’s term) in favor of secular law, i.e., an illustration of “obeying the law”. But consider what that really means in historical context. Federal statutes declared the practice unlawful beginning in 1862. The Church claimed these laws were unconstitutional and appealed, and ultimately lost. Reynolds v. United States was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1878. President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto that Talmadge points to as concession to secular law in 1890, 12 years after Reynolds, and we know that polygamy did not end even then. In the meantime, Church leaders were imprisoned, others went into hiding, Church property was confiscated, and the LDS Church was dissolved (by the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887). In other words, there was 30 years of more or less open disobedience to law before “obeying” came to the fore.

  51. Your name goes here says:

    The Church’s endorsement of this policy is as wrong as it’s racial policies in the past.

  52. Seriously. What happened to “obeying the law” as such a black and white principle during the decades we were openly defying the law in practicing polygamy?

  53. That “seriously” was addressed to Christian.

  54. christiankimball, that was an amazingly concise and relevant summary of our history during those years. Bravo.

    One point only made me smile, and I hope it makes you smile, too: I’ve been through the collection of correspondence received by James E. Talmage and preserved in the Church archives. Even though it couldn’t possibly have come to the attention of those who wrote to him, he constantly, without fail, crossed out “Talmadge” wherever it appeared and wrote “Talmage” next to it.

    I wish more blog commenters had as good a grasp of our history as you have in this case. Thanks.

  55. Talmage! I’ve probably spelled it wrong my whole life without ever bothering to look. A bad habit is hard to break.

  56. christiankimball says:

    john f., I took your question as rhetorical because I’m confident you know at least as much as I do, but then “seriously”? Anyway, I suspect (but have never investigated) that the “black and white principle” is a product of later 20th century Correlation. But I should really begin and end with “I don’t know”. My original point remains, that (in my opinion, and apparently James Talmage’s) “obeying the law” in the 12th Article of Faith is illustrated by, not contradicted by, the complexity of the latter half of the 19th century battle over polygamy. Lest it escape notice, I would not call that “black and white”.

  57. John Mansfield says:

    Brain Larsen, you made me curious how the United States regarded the conquered territories of 1846 prior to the peace settlement of 1848. After all, the U.S. army also occupied Mexico City in order to compel a settlement, just as it has many other countries in the aftermath of war, so California and New Mexico might have still been regarded by the United States as part of Mexico.

    Col. Kearney in Santa Fe issued a proclamation that New Mexico was now part of the United States. Commodore Sloat in Monterey similarly proclaimed to the inhabitants of California that henceforth California would be a portion of the United States. The Mexican government(s) did recognize these claims, nor that Texas (admitted as a state in 1845) was not part of Mexico, but it was the United States on the ground controlling its claimed territory, squelching a couple rebellions by newly proclaimed U.S. residents.

    I’m still at a loss at what connections I’m meant to draw between the U.S. invasion of the northern portions of Mexico and the presence of undocumented immigrants today, who should be dealt Christian love and allowed to regularize their employment situations.

  58. Good post. The Church has taken the correct position. I think we need to seal off our border for issues of terrorism and drug trafficking. However, we need to give all immigrants a chance to have a good family life. Provide them with worker permits. To me, it is crazy how some people want Dreamers, some who have lived here their whole lives and do not even speak Spanish, to “go home”. This IS their home. Sadly, I think the radical right is totally wrong on this – which is why I’m now a Libertarian.

  59. Ardis said:
    You don’t remember the Chinese situation quite accurately, Caroline. The counsel was not given in general to Chinese immigrants to the US. It was given to Chinese students and professionals who had come to the US not as permanent residents, but as relatively short-term students and trainees. They came to the US under those terms, joined the Church, and then considered staying in the US because there was so little LDS presence in China. The Church asked them to keep their original agreement and return to China.

    Yes, Ardis, I do remember the Chinese situation accurately because the people whom I referenced in my post were Chinese students, there in the US legally.

    Ardis said:
    that’s a very different situation from one where people come to the US, under whatever circumstances they come, intending to stay permanently in the US. You’re trying to make it sound as though the Church prefers that people “go back where they came from,” which is not supported by the case of the Chinese students.

    Yes. It is different. It was the Church asking people to abide by the agreement they made to come here legally. That was my point. Why ask one group who is trying to be here legally to leave and ask another group here illegally to stay? In one circumstance the counsel was to go back to your own country and build the kingdom there. My question is why is that not the counsel here? I may never know that answer and I’m OK with that. But it’s a genuine question. Your suggestion that the Church was counseling the Chinese students to abide by their original agreement only strengthens my question–why isn’t the Church suggesting to members here illegally to abide by the laws of this country?

    Ardis and Tim said:
    “And what hubris leads you, under any circumstances, to declare that you are the righteous one sustaining law when “no one else around [you] is doing so”?”

    She’s the one going the speed limit in the left lane on I-15, 15 mph slower than the people passing her on the right, wondering why everyone’s giving her dirty looks and the bird.

    I never declared myself to be “the righteous one.” I am saying that if I were to speed down the freeway, my law-breaking would have consequences under the law and I would have to comply with those consequences. If I were to pick up and move to a foreign country I would have to do so according to their laws or comply with the consequences of breaking those laws.

    If a person breaks the law the only way to then sustain the law would be to be accountable for having broken it.

    To the person who talked about 30 years of disobedience in regards to polygamy, thank you. That is food for thought and I appreciate it.

  60. Caroline, you admit that the case of the Chinese students is different from the case of the undocumented immigrants we always have in mind in these immigration discussions, but you can’t understand why the Church would give identical counsel to the two different groups. You find it incomprehensible that two different cases result in two different pieces of counsel.

    Perhaps instead of trying to homogenize the advice to suit your ideology, you could spend a little effort trying to figure out what is different about the two situations that might result in the Church giving different counsel. Hint: The Chinese students, building on the training they received here, were going back to China to live lives of greater professional prestige and opportunity than they had when they left (which was kinda the whole point of their coming here). Nothing could be more different for the refugee from Central American violence — none of the Chinese students, for example, could expect to be raped or murdered as a welcome home party. The Chinese students had lived here briefly and had not built lives here distinct from the lives they led before coming — not so for the Mexican laborer who has been here long enough to build family ties that will be ripped apart when a parent or parents are deported. The Chinese students came here with no intent to stay and were asked not to change their minds from that original plan; the Hispanic undocumented immigrant came here with the hope of staying permanent and has not been asked to change his mind from that original plan. Etc.

    If you can’t see the difference, it’s because you don’t want to. If you can’t see the difference, thank heavens (quite literally) Church leaders can see the difference.

    It must be very lonely for you as the only one who obeys the law while all about you, including Church leaders, are flagrantly committing crime, as you reported in an earlier comment. We criminals sleep just as well at night as you do. Our bad.

  61. John Mansfield says:

    Ardis, the Church’s statement mentions 12 million undocumented immigrants. About half of those are people who were authorized to enter the United States but overstayed their visas. They have documents, but not documents authorizing their continued residence in the United States. Many Chinese students I knew aimed to find a means to stay, but as you say, they are young, and plans for them and their U.S. citizen children were flexible. Do Mexican drywallers under 30, not expecting unusual violence back home, not asylum seekers, fall in the same category as Chinese students, different from people we allowed to build a life here of long standing?

  62. I think the church also had some self-interest in the matter. I imagine our Hispanic communities in the U.S. have about the same percentage of members as Latin America as a whole. On the other hand, not a whole lot of members live in China. The Chinese would be instrumental in building the church in China; Hispanic members are important both in the U.S. and outside the U.S. Additionally, Chinese individuals educated in the U.S. are much more likely to find decent work in China than many Hispanics are in Latin America, largely because of education levels and poverty levels.

  63. John Mansfield says:

    It could be like that, Tim. No broad overarching principles, just pragmatic consideration of each situation at hand.

  64. I think the broad overarching principles would include how we treat others and defending the family (ie–not pulling families apart by deporting fathers and/or mothers, and allowing them to work in order to support their families). But yes, outside of that I think different situations may warrant different approaches.

  65. A Non-E Mous says:

    >>>>The Church’s official position on same-sex marriage contains clear and unambiguous recommendations. It is not one of those “pray-about-it-and-let-your-conscience-be-your-guide” things. It claims that there are important moral principles at stake in the debate and clear policy implications that flow from those principles:

    This is the Church’s position on same-sex marriage in the United States, which means that permitting gay marriage, and unifying gay couples and families in the process, is NOT the Church’s position on gay marriage in the United States. If you are a Latter-day Saint in the United States, and you favor gay marriage, then you support something that the Church opposes. And if you do believe that gay marriage should be allowed, then you support something that the Church opposes
    .
    Now, this is fine with me. I’m the last person who has any right to criticize someone for not supporting a specific political position of the LDS Church. But let’s not play make believe. If you favor things that the Church opposes, and you oppose things that the Church supports, then you cannot say that you accept the council of the Brethren “in all things.” You might say that you accept their counsel “in some things,” or “in most things,” or possibly even “in all things but one.” But if you say you stand 100% with the leaders of the Church, when you clearly don’t, you are being dishonest.
    And there is more at stake here than simply disagreeing with the Church on a matter of politics. This is more than just a political proposal; it is a moral imperative. If you treat gay couples the same as straight couples, you are not just disagreeing with a Church-supported policy; you are disobeying the prophet on a bedrock moral principle. This is serious stuff if you are the sort of person who believes in things like bedrock moral principles.

    The Church has never spoken more clearly on a contemporary political issue. How we treat the family matters. How we talk about marriage matters. How we engage in the political process in ways that affects that institution matters.<<<<

    Still agree with this Michael Austin? Honest question.

  66. A Non-E Mous, I think part of the point of this post was that your rhetoric is exactly what we hear on a regular basis at church. And those of us who disagree with the church on the issue agree to disagree. We don’t hide our head in the sand and pretend that the church has some other stance on the matter, unlike many, many LDS members in the U.S. who are anti-immigrant.

  67. Thank you, John Mansfield, for inviting me to argue over a matter which we both know from the outset will accomplish nothing, because we both know your habit of changing the goalposts whenever anyone successfully responds to your ideological challenges. I decline your invitation.

  68. Does it matter that one will not find the signatures of the First Presidency anywhere in connection with these immigration statements, such as the June 10th, 2011 “Immigration New Statement” quoted in the article? Does it matter that the Church “endorsed” the deceitful Utah Compact but would not actually sign it?

    Yes it does.

  69. Truthatallcost says:

    To all who are anti-immigration, how does letting a few more people into the country affect you? Are you really looking to pick fruit or do the other manual labor jobs our immigrant brothers and sisters do? Maybe youre affected more by the propaganda the main stream media produces? Isn’t the anti-immigrant msm push just part of a divide and conquer strategy from those who really need to be put to task?

  70. “…how does letting a few more people into the country affect you?”

    If you’re talking about allowing those few to come in illegally, they you have to let 30-50 million in illegally as well. It is not in the best interests of the country and not fair to millions around the world who respect this nation’s laws enough to play by the rules, nor is it fair to millions of Americans who suffer in a wide variety of ways as a direct result of illegal immigration. The principle of drawing the line at the law, of people having agency to choose whether to comply with that law, and of accountability for one’s willful choices, is God’s way. Looking the other way at illegality and at the suffering of those victimized by illegality in the false name of “love thy neighbor,” is not God’s way. Unfortunately, various special-interest groups are profiting handsomely by illegal immigration, and are disseminating false doctrine.

  71. This whole issue could be solved by a border wall with Canada.

  72. It lifts my spirit to know that anti-immigration fervor is fueled by tender concern for fairness to other, theoretical immigrants.

  73. Don’t kid yourself Ardis. First they’ll take all the lawyering jobs, and then what? A tsunami of politeness and gun control will follow *shiver*. :-)

  74. Left Field says:

    I once illegally stuck the toe of my boot under the barbed-wire fence into Mexico. The Federales should’ve shot my toes off when they had the chance.

    On another occasion, I skipped rocks across the Rio Grande. I believe that qualifies as a border incursion.

  75. “In twenty years of writing about Mormon issues, I have written only one thing that simply quotes an official Church statement, endorses it enthusiastically, and urges others to follow the prophet.”

    That caught my eye.

  76. A Non-E Mous says:

    Tim, I don’t buy.

    1) That’s not my rhetoric. I have never in my life made any comments denigrating gay marriage. I personally think permitting gays and lesbians to marry is preferable to forbidding it. However,I staunchly avoid publicly advocating for it or bemoaning the Church’s different stance from mine because I trust that the Church — however deliberate it may be — is generally led by inspired by men and will go down the right path. I doubt, absent some new information that I don’t yet have, that I will ever publicly advocate against gay marriage or talk about how it is undermining the family; I just don’t feel that way. But I also recognize that I am out of line with the Church’s stance and accept that any advocacy on my part has to be on a very intimate level, not on a public or communal level.

    2) Which is partly why I think Michael’s post is equally off-putting to those who hurl “The Brethren” at opponents of gay marriage while balking on the immigration issue. The post’s tone and message is clear: people who disagree with me need to change their position because the Brethren say so. This excerpt is perhaps the most annoying:

    “Now, this is fine with me. I’m the last person who has any right to criticize someone for not supporting a specific political position of the LDS Church. But let’s not play make believe. If you favor things that the Church opposes, and you oppose things that the Church supports, then you cannot say that you accept the council of the Brethren “in all things.””

    This “not accepting the council of the Brethren in all things” bit is just a way of trying to use the Church’s position to jockey others in line with someone’s own. This kind of “Let’s see your temple recommend” kind of debate is aggravating. I am not familiar with Michael or his positions, but stereotyping him as the run-of-the-mill BCC contributor, I’d guess he’s pro-gay marriage and would be absolutely aggravated if someone tried to use this line on him with respect to that issue. It’s equally aggravating to hear liberals harping on it for the immigration issue.

    (For the record, I’m pro-migrant. Would love to see broad forms of amnesty and massive reform of immigration law.)

  77. Michael, thank you for writing this piece (again). A couple of thoughts: I do not understand the repeated claim by some that it would somehow be unfair or uncharitable to legal immigrants to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a green card. I am married to a legal immigrant. The process of obtaining his green card was lengthy, expensive, and annoying. We would not wish that on anyone else if it could be avoided. If the system were reformed and improved so that other green card seekers could do it more quickly and easily than we did, then great!

    Also, as a maternal feminist, I am deeply troubled by the inferences regarding the worth and work of mothers (regardless of their birthplace) as quoted by Mr. Mansfield. More power to the mothers who choose to care for their young children full-time. That work has undeniable economic, social, and moral value. In fact, some nations are now quantifying the value of the work full-time mothers do as part of their nations’ GDP’s because it is critical to overall economic and societal health.

  78. John Mansfield says:

    Erika, I think it is praiseworthy of foreign-born mothers that they have a lower workforce participation rate, and also that Mormon women do. Devoting mothers’ labor to the care of their own children is what the LDS church presidents Kimball, Benson, and Hinckley recommended. I agree with you that the labor people perform to take care of themselves and their families, which is not part of the usual measure of GDP, is of great value to economic and societal health.

  79. Ryan Mullen says:

    I fully support US immigration reform. Yet, I would caution the “Brigham Young was an illegal emigrant into Mexico” argument. Mexico certainly claimed modern-day Utah at the time, but the practicality of that claim is questionable. At the time, many European nations and their former colonies claimed vast swaths of the land they could neither defend nor populate. For example, the US “bought” the Louisiana purchase from France, and yet the native population of that territory outnumbered the French. In practical terms, France only sold the European claim to that territory. The US then spent far more than the $15 million they gave to France to enforce that claim.

    I have no 1840’s population numbers, but from the Mormon history I’ve read, the Salt Lake valley Mormons encountered many native peoples but no Mexican citizens.

  80. Yeah, and President Hinckley openly supported the Iraq War during general conference – multiple times! How’d that work out? And didn’t another prophet tell us the Civil Rights Movement was a communist plot to overthrow the USA, also from conference? And then there was Prop 8. First church argues in favor of polygamy before the supreme court, and then a hundred years later it argues again before the supreme court, but this time with the roles flipped and now against its previous arguments! And let’s not forget all the Nauvoo silliness, failed socialism, etc. Man will never walk on the moon! Seriously, has the church ever been a leader, or even “right,” on any major political issue?

    But you think we should follow the prophet instead of our conscience? (shakes head)

    How do even know where the “prophet” stands on this issue? I haven’t seen President Monson say anything, just President Newsroom. What else is the church going to say? Of course, duh, it’s going to issue a completely meaningless statement about loving your neighbor, blah, blah, blah. It will put on a good face for the sake of missionary work and PR, a hollow gesture.

  81. As to the issue itself, it’s shameful to me how emotionally-based all these pro-illegal-immigration arguments are. If you oppose illegal immigration you’re just a big meanie. It is the most absurdly childish argument. There is nothing “racist” about being firm on immigration. It has nothing to do with race. It has to do with 18 trillion in debt, hundreds of trillions in unfunded liabilities, an overpopulated prison system, collapsing healthcare and education systems, collapsing job market, etc. It has to do with the simple fact that WE ARE BROKE! I would love to wave my magic wand, sing kumbaya, and give the world a gigantic hug. Get real.

    Question, why is Mexico and pretty much all of central and south america the corrupt and dysfunctional cesspool that it seems to be? It certainly isn’t for lack of natural resources and opportunity. What, exactly, is the problem over there that they seem incapable of getting their act together? Is it morals? Is it education? Is it intelligence? Cultural? Is there some mysterious force holding them down and it just isn’t their fault? What is it?

    And then explain to me 1) how bringing them here solves that problem, and 2) what is keeping them from bringing those core problems over here with them? The people coming here are the very same people responsible for all the problems in Mexico, either directly or indirectly. So what’s protecting us from them? This should be common sense. Would you hire the former executives of Enron to run your startup company?

    You really want to give tens of millions of illegals from Mexico the power to vote in US elections? Truly insane. Seriously, why even wait then, just move to Mexico if that’s where you want to live…

    This is very simple statistics, it’s very predictable where all this leads us.

    The list of problems caused by illegal immigration is long. This is not some small thing, it’s having a hugely deleterious impact on our economy already just in the short term. Long-term, it could literally be our undoing.

    I fail to understand how giving the people of Mexico an “out” serves to address the core problems that led to their wanting to flee in the first place. If similar problems existed in the USA would we run to Canada? Is that what you’d argue in favor of? I hope not. No, we’d mobilize, even taking up arms if we had to, and we’d solve the problem. There are problems in Mexico that need to be dealt with, by force. What’s the saying, all it takes for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing? We’re enabling them to do nothing.

    How would you like it if American culture and values were replaced by Mexican culture? How would you like it if today’s Mexico became tomorrow’s America? Do you honestly think “no big deal” or that this would somehow be a good thing? This is a problem that will not go away, for any of us. Western countries all have declining populations. Even within the church, families are having fewer children. The people from the third world however, it’s the opposite. It’s a battle of numbers that we’re going to lose.

  82. “If similar problems existed in the USA would we run to Canada?”

    Not if there was a border wall.

  83. Clark Goble says:

    Talon (10:39) in practice the US/Canadian border is actually quite heavily patrolled. It’s quite annoying to those of us who lived near the border and were used to crossing it easily prior to 9/11. Lots of famers along the border who complain about US enforcement as well. While I might be wrong, I suspect that the Canadian border is now tighter than the Mexican border.

    Andrew (2:40) I think most highly controversial political arguments are always emotional. It’s not like the conservative arguments against illegal immigration are any less emotional. As for corruption, I suspect some might say that these countries are developing but getting to stable rule of law is hard and takes time. We might also point to US actions either with the war on drugs or consequences of the cold war that make things harder for these countries. But lest we forget it wasn’t that many decades in the past that the US had a very similar problem to contemporary Mexico in places like Chicago. Some might say that were the US to completely rethink the war on drugs that it would cut the legs out from under the Mexican drug cartels.

    Andrew (2:26) I think most of us acknowledge that leaders of the church can be mistaken. I’m not sure that justifies simply dismissing them simply because we disagree with them on some issue we’re passionate about. I also think assuming church press statements are divorced from church leadership to be problematic. Although heaven knows that’s been discussed here quite a bit of late.

    Ryan (6:57) I think that’s a good argument. Although I also think that many of those making the argument would be just as dismissive of Spanish Mexican or similar ownership. At least my friends making the argument see it more as a pre-European vs. European issue. I find this problematic, not the least of which since if we are to discount borders that seems to justify far more American involvement in these southern nations. At a minimum usually my friends who oppose US immigration law also oppose US interference in these nations. But, I’d think, that’s a bit of a double standard.

    Erika (12:20) I think the argument is that for someone in Asia or Africa it’s just inherently more difficult to apply for immigration and there’s no easy way to enter illegally the way there is for people south of the border. That’s why most illegal immigrants from these places choose Europe rather than the US and why most from Latin America choose the US rather than the EU. There are just practical reasons.

    While I think the legal immigration process is in dire need of reform, I can see those opposed to illegal immigration actually doing so out of fairness. Contra Ardis, I don’t think most are xenophobic. That’s not to say there isn’t an unfortunate xenophobia aspect to the opposition. I think we do see that in a lot of Trump supporters.

  84. Clark, my references to a border wall with Canada are totally tongue in cheek. The notion of a Candadian border wall is bat sh*t crazy, even more so when proposed by a Presidential candidate.

    You can’t build a wall to keep “others” out, without keeping the wall builders “in”.

  85. Clark Goble says:

    Oh I know – Walker’s flub. I was just saying that already the Canadian border has degraded in ways that make me very sad.

  86. Me as well. I live on the north side of the divide. I crossed the border regularly growing up and never thought much of it. I recognized that I was in a different country, but there was a special kinship. Two of my siblings are US citizens. It was a second home to me growing up as my dad went to School at BYU. Not so after 9/11.

  87. My children and I stood on one side of the Pigeon River and attacked Canada with rocks. We succeeded several times, before my son fell in the river.