Immigration and the Twelfth Article of Faith

In the last couple days, an apparently Mormon Twitter user claimed to have reported someone in his ward to ICE, which started deportation proceedings against the family. I’m dubious of the claim, frankly: this person has a history of acting as trollishly as possible to get reactions. (And, for that reason, I’m not going to name him or link to his tweets—if you really want to see it, it’s not hard to find.)

However, in the last couple of days, we at BCC have verified instances where Mormons have called ICE on their ward members. I assume they claim they’re doing it because of the Twelfth Article of Faith, and especially that part that says that we believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

Upfront: those people are lying. They’re calling ICE because they’re racists, xenophobes, or otherwise un-Christian-like.[fn1]

And why do I say that?

The Twelfth AoF Is Personal

The Twelfth Article of Faith requires us to obey, honor, and sustain the law. But it’s one of those commandments that is to each of us, personally. What it doesn’t do is tell us how to treat those who don’t obey, honor, and sustain the law. It certainly doesn’t require us to report those who break the law to authorities.

In fact, the church does not see reporting—or even censuring—members who are in a country illegally as a duty. In fact, the church has explicitly told members that we’re not in a position to make judgments about others’ immigration standards:

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

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

Let me emphasize that: even if undocumented immigration status violates the Twelfth AoF, the church does not see it as disqualifying for priesthood or temple attendance. The values described by the Article of Faith is subordinate to other important values.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the church itself has been casual over the years about immigration status. I mean, I served my mission in Brazil, far from any national borders, so our immigration status was always fine. But I’ve known plenty of European missionaries who used a visa from one European country to overstay their permission to be in another European country.[fn2]

Selective Reporting

The Twelfth AoF argument isn’t, in itself, evidence of racism, etc., of course. But the selective application of the argument is. (Note that we shouldn’t even get to this point, given that there’s no Twelfth AoF reason to report undocumented ward members, and there’s strong church-inflected reasons not to. But let’s ignore those for now.)

Being in the country without permission is a civil offense.[fn3] You know what else is a civil offense?

  • Speeding.
  • Jaywalking.
  • Not coming to a complete stop at the stop sign.
  • Not paying use tax on out-of-state and internet purchases where the seller doesn’t collect sales tax.
  • Copying sheet music for the choir, without buying individual music for each person.
  • Downloading copyrighted material from the internet without paying.
  • Missing a child support payment.
  • Paying employees under the table to avoid payroll taxes.

Are you reporting your ward members when they do those things? In fact, are you reporting yourself when you do? If not—if you only chose to report undocumented individuals—you’re not doing it because of the Articles of Faith.

Neighbors

The weight of scripture deeply condemns reporting an undocumented ward member. It very clearly goes against Jesus’ command to love our neighbors. It actively disrupts the web of interconnectedness that Joseph Smith worked toward. And it’s 100% antithetical to Zion. We don’t live in a Zion community yet, but we’re trying to build one. And a Zion people would not try to alienate its members, much less rip a family apart.

My copy of Zion in the Courts is at work, and I haven’t read it in a number of years. But it points out that, in the nineteenth century, Mormons could be excommunicated for suing other Mormons in secular courts. We’ve moved away from that, but actively attempting to tear families apart, and to punish our coreligionists, strikes me as worse, even, than suing our neighbors.


[fn1] I’m going to keep a measured tone in this post. In part, it’s because I’m pretty sure some of my co-bloggers are going to bring the thunder. And partly it’s because I can’t express how despicable a Mormon who would call ICE on a fellow-Saint is in a way that’s appropriate for this blog.

[fn2] I wouldn’t be surprised if some members of the church have jobs that would require them to report undocumented individuals to ICE if they were aware of the individual’s immigration status. I would both hope and assume that their leaders would not call them to positions where they would find out immigration status. And I would equally hope that if an individual were under that legal obligation and got a calling that would make them privy to that information, that the person would decline the calling.

[fn3] There are, unsurprisingly, criminal violations of immigration law, too, that mostly deal with the manner of entry. The criminal violations are generally misdemeanors, though, and require the government to prove illegal entry. Basically, unless our reporting ward members actually saw their co-congregants enter the country, they’re reporting a civil violation.

Comments

  1. Great post, Sam! I read Article of Faith 12 as nothing more or less than an affirmation of a belief in the rule of law. It doesn’t mean that all legal infractions are moral infractions, and it certainly doesn’t mean we have a duty to become government stooges in ratting out our fellow saints for legal infractions. Especially not where the legal infraction at issue isn’t causing any immediate harm or risk of harm, but reporting it risks tearing apart a family and consign them to several years of wandering in a byzantine bureaucratic hellscape.

  2. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    This won’t stop until a letter from the First Presidency comes out explicitly forbidding this practice and threatening formal Church discipline against violators. There are too many racists in the Church for it not to, and the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania NW makes them feel empowered in their racism.

    BTW, speaking of (nominally) LDS Twitter trolls, anyone know what happened to WifeWithAPurpose since she got banhammered?

  3. Excellent, Sam. (Though, quick note: is the 12th Article of Faith a “commandment”? It’s part of a collective descriptive statement about members of the Mormon church which, as having been canonized, presumably has normative force…but I’m not sure it is proper to therefore conclude that baptized members of the church are, therefore, under commandment to be in a state of “honoring, upholding, and sustaining the law” at all times.)

  4. JKC, I saw your take on Twitter (after writing this), and I really like it. But even if you believe it’s a specific mandate to obey the law as it exists today, it takes an insane amount of poor reading to get to it demanding that you call ICE on, well, anybody.

  5. And Russell—I agree with your take. I wrote this from an even-if-it-is-a-commandment point of view.

  6. mikerharris says:

    Well written, compassionate article! Historical tidbit: “In a joint meeting of the First Presidency and the Twelve met to consider whether illegal aliens should be baptized. Some of the brethren supported the position of not baptizing illegal aliens. After hearing all the views and the reasoning behind them, President [Spencer W.] Kimball said, ‘I think they should be baptized’ That ended the discussion. (“Lengthen Your Stride, The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball”, Edward L. Kimball, page 34).

  7. “[I]t takes an insane amount of poor reading to get to it demanding that you call ICE on, well, anybody” Yep.

  8. It takes an awful lot of wresting the scriptures to valorize the 12th Article of Faith over Christ’s teaching about the two great commandments.

  9. It’s not just that they can be baptized and attend the temple. Many are actually called by God to serve as full-time missionaries of the church. The only restriction on their service is that the church makes sure to send them stateside, so that they don’t have to worry about reentering the U.S. once their service is over.

  10. Can the church condemn this? I’m trying to think how that would look on paper.

    Also in listening to the most Mormon Land, I was struck by the former mission presidents talking about the importance of missionaries telling the mission president when their companion was doing something wrong. Is this a worldwide mission rule?

  11. Sidebottom says:

    Can we uncanonize the AoF?

  12. Thank you for this piece, and appreciate the example used on civil actions that many of us violate everyday. Last year I was called to be the Bishop of a Spanish ward, and to my surprise have I come to know this topic very intimately. First off, I too was an undocumented individual for a greater part of 30 years, of which I had no knowledge about until I went to obtain a passport for the first time. I believe there are many in this same situation, where families have held this secret from their loved ones for various reasons. Nonetheless, upon receiving this new revelation, was the Lord looking after me. As a ward mission leader, I had baptized a Panamanian women who stood 4 feet tall and spoke 7 languages fluently. She worked at the INS, and when I told her my family secret that had been held close to the chest, she was dumbfounded that I had never known. She processed my paperwork within 30 minutes, which normally takes individuals filing for residency, 3 to 4 years to process in the late 1990’s. That said, I became a permanent resident and now a documented foreigner in the US. Now I might add, am I a naturalized citizen of the country. Once I was called to be Bishop, did I come to know that more than half of the membership was undocumented. I struggled as a new Bishop on how best to address this dilemma or just accept it as how it was suppose to be within the church. I knew well the church’s stance on residency status, and know that the Lord held no civil boundaries upon the children of men. Upon much prayer and fasting, did I come to know how to address the 12th AoF with my ward members. As their Bishop, I wanted to help them live this AoF to the best of my ability, I wanted them to fill confident in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I had sensed that not only are these Latinos some of the most humbling people that I have come to know, but that were also feeling a bit less confident in themselves while they are living in this country struggling with cultural issues, language issues, and just assimilating in general – especially with all the anti-immigration sentiment with our new administration in the government. The Lord finally revealed to me that these loving, faithful individuals can continue to live the gospel & AoF by merely have a plan in place. Taking the first step is to knowingly acknowledge that they were not in accordance to this AoF and therefore looking for ways to rectify this situation. This became a righteous desire for them to make things straight and look to fulfill that AoF in their lives. By having a plan in place, discovering what the cost would be to obtain their documentation and get it in order; in essence allowed them to live the gospel as they progress to improve their status in this country. One member had discovered that they needed to save $5,000 for their immigration attorney to begin their process of residency. Everyone member had a different story, but no one had the same cost associated for their individual process. But this one member saving $20 dollars per week toward their $5,000, meant that they were working and progressing toward that plan – and in essence living the gospel. This brought them confidence again, allowed them to feel at ease in finally going to the Lord with peace of mind. The gospel once again, even with their temporal lives being challenged everyday, became their safe haven where they could worship in honesty and integrity. There are no coincidences in life and why I was sent to be a Bishop at this ward at this time, but am grateful for the experience and opportunity to serve these delight-some brothers and sisters of our Father in Heaven.

  13. While some undocumented immigrants can become permanent residents, many of them can’t, regardless of how much money they save up. Those who entered the U.S. legally, overstayed their visa, and then married a U.S. citizen often have options. Those who entered legally and stayed long enough that their U.S. citizen children turned 21 often have options. Most other undocumented immigrants either have a very expensive and very tentative path forward (with a cost typically much more than $5000, and no guarantee of success) or they have no options whatsoever.

  14. Loursat says:

    Here is a link to the Newsroom statement quoted in Sam’s OP, beginning “The First Presidency has for many years taught . . .”:

    https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/avoiding-being-judgmental-immigration

    I’m going to put that one on speed dial, just in case this comes up.

  15. Thanks Loursat! I thought I’d put the link in, but I seem to have forgotten. (I’ll insert it into the OP too when I get back to a computer.)

  16. Jack Hughes says:

    I’m reminded of MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, in which Dr. King points out that the atrocities of Hitler and the Nazi regime were “legal” (government sanctioned), while those who hid, assisted or protected Jews were in violation of those supposed laws–and that as Christians we would be morally obligated to take the position of the latter.

  17. Jack Hughes says:

    I’m further reminded of the difficult history of German LDS church members during the Nazi regime. It’s not pretty.

  18. Eight or so years ago, we had a missionary assigned to our ward who was undocumented. He took the Greyhound bus from the MTC, along with his companion, to the Portland Oregon Mission because he didn’t have the proper ID to be able to fly. I thought it a little odd at the time that the church would send undocumented Elders and Sisters on missions, but I figured that young men and young women who are worthy should be allowed the same opportunity to serve as any other member of the church. Most immigrants are here because they want the same things we want for our own families: safety, opportunity, and freedom.

  19. About ten years ago an undocumented Elder was deported after ICE questioned him at the Cincinnati Airport. He had honorably finished a 2-year mission and was flying home to his parents (he lived in the U.S.) I think that incident prompted the church to stop flying undocumented missionaries around. Unfortunately, Greyhounds are now being targeted by ICE, so I hope the church is using safer methods to transport missionaries.

    My wife and I were living in Cincinnati at the time, and while I didn’t know this missionary I knew several other Spanish-speaking missionaries. We of course never asked about immigration status, but I recently found out a missionary I had known there at around the time of the ICE incident was also undocumented at the time. He only publicly admitted his status once he married and became legalized. I’m sure many others are in similar situations.

  20. Love your process, Rudy. That’s beautiful.

  21. Kristin Brown says:

    Rudy, thank you for writing about your personal experience concerning this complex issue. Well done.

  22. “We’ve moved away from that, but actively attempting to tear families apart, and to punish our coreligionists, strikes me as worse, even, than suing our neighbors.”

    Amen. Great post, and true.

  23. Rudy, great comment but I also need to point out my strong belief that being in the country “illegally” does not necessarily mean one is automatically “in violation of” the 12th Article of Faith. No more than speeding or jaywalking mean you’re actually “violating” the 12th Article of Faith.

    As JKC points out, the 12th Article of Faith declares that we believe in the rule of law. Yes, obeying laws is important. And we work to do that and want to be good, law abiding contributors to society. But morality may require other courses of action under certain circumstances. For instance, would it be moral for parents in Honduras *not* to flee and seek refuge in a safer place (like the US or even Mexico, where they’d be illegal in either place) if in their country it would be impossible to keep their daughters safe from rapes committed as gang initiations or their sons from being forced to commit murders or other crimes by neighborhood gangs who lay claim to ownership of them as human capital?

  24. [no obvious sequencing, since this got hung up on an internet glich)

    Good post and I agree with the general point.

    However, I think belaboring the 12th Article of Faith is misplaced emphasis. My opinion is that the relatively high level of support for Mr. Trump among U.S. Mormons is directly related to immigration policy–that immigration policy is more important than any other single factor. As you say, Sam, “They’re calling ICE because they’re racists, xenophobes, or otherwise un-Christian-like.” They *want* the deportation result.

    If the 12th AofF is an excuse and not genuine, arguing the 12th AofF plays into their hands. Because for all the good arguments, there is another side and “they” can probably play out the 12th AofF discussion as long as anybody is willing to engage.

  25. Robert Casey says:

    Thanks for the interesting article. I appreciated also the link to the official statement about people who are here illegally being able to get a temple recommend. I have wondered about how these people would answer the recommend interview questions about being honest in your dealings with your fellow man.

    Let’s not forget also the statement where the Church discourages illegal immigration: “As a matter of policy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discourages its members from entering any country without legal documentation, and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.”

    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/immigration-church-issues-new-statement

    That being said, I don’t support the kind of action the original poster on Twitter claims to have done. I also don’t think that those who came here illegally as children did anything wrong.

    In the list of civil offenses in the article, one of the things that is listed is missing child support payments. That is something that is asked about in the temple recommend interview, unlike the other items in the list.

    My wife and I are going through the immigration process. I am in the USA and she is trying to come here. The process is expensive and long and we are at the mercy of heartless bureaucrats (or at least that’s how it feels). Our immigration system in the USA is a mess and is badly in need of fixing.

    Countries have a right to protect and secure their borders. We also have a moral imperative to help those in need.

  26. Bruised, broken, yet at peace says:

    To report an otherwise law abiding undocumented immigrant seems to be pharisaical at the highest order, straining at gnats, fixating on motes, and idolizing the law in place of loving one’s neighbor. Such shall find themselves mourning the harm caused by their lack of charity. If charity covereth a multitude of sins, such self righteousness will expose the reporter to the full weight of heavenly law.

  27. Thank you for your service, Randy.

  28. This is horrific. I am appalled and embarrassed by my membership in this moment. Another reason I am quietly distancing myself. The less I attend church and interact with the self righteous people in my ward the more my testimony remains intact and grows. Politics is the new religion. Attending church is now just sheeps clothing over the wolves.

  29. Sam, I know you are well intended and motivated by kindness and love, but I don’t find your arguments persuasive.
    If we truly love someone we don’t enable their illegal behavior. True love calls us to speak the truth to our brothers and sisters who are here illegally. They need to go home and get in line and come the honest and legal way. It really is that simple.

  30. Carey F. says:

    Classic example of what Augustine defined as sin: disordered love

  31. And if the illegal immigrant is pure of heart the day will come when they will thank the person who called ICE and helped them begin the process of getting back to being an honest and law abiding citizen.

  32. Fred, I’m not sure that you are well intended and motivated but kindness and love, but, even if it were, I don’t find it persuasive.

    If we truly love someone, we don’t enable their self-righteous, judgmentalism, especially when the Church has spoken on the subject. It really is that simple.

    If the self-righteous native is pure of heart, the day will come that they apologize to those they so harshly judge and thank those that call them out for being so myopic in order that they might live as a more honest, love-abiding citizen.

  33. Truckers Atlas says:

    “As a ward mission leader, I had baptized a Panamanian women…She worked at the INS, and when I told her my family secret…She processed my paperwork within 30 minutes, which normally takes individuals filing for residency, 3 to 4 years to process in the late 1990’s.”

    Uhhh….

  34. Brian, I don’t mind if you have views that are different than mine, but please don’t mock what I wrote.

  35. Original story a twitter troll?

  36. I’m a frequent reader here, but because I rarely post I may sound like I’m trolling. I’m not. This issue really troubles me. Even if you don’t agree with me I hope you would at least treat my point of view with respect.

  37. Fred, the Church baptizes the people you are so quickly dismissing; it sends them on missions. It doesn’t call ICE on them. Perhaps you feel slighted by my comments. Every wonder how your comments might feel to those people? I get it, you can have different views that me. Of course you can. But don’t lace up your views in the packaging of wanting the betterment of these people.

  38. Brian, I sincerely do think that when we as people are breaking the law (any law, even the ones Sam mentioned that we all break) we will be better people if we stop breaking the law and start obeying it. It certainly applies to all of us, not just illegal immigrants.
    It pains me to say this, but I feel that the leaders of our church (including the first presidency) are mistaken in their position on this issue. I’m okay with that. I don’t need our leaders to be perfect.

  39. Fred, let me be completely blunt: your assertion that if you call ICE on someone, not only are you doing them a favor, but they’ll thank you someday, is (1) stupid, (2) selfish, (3) almost certainly hypocritical, (4) un-Christian, and (5) wrong.

    If you believe that civil violations of the law get in the way of a person’s spiritual progress, good for you. Fix your behavior: stop speeding, start paying use tax, and figure out and meet the rest of the laws that you’re not obeying.

    Nobody gave you (or me) the right to judge others’ spiritual progression or needs, or to determine what would be best for their spiritual progress. But doing so violates the commandments that Jesus found most important, including loving your neighbor and welcoming the stranger.

  40. And I may at some future point be persuaded that it is me who is in error. I’m open to that possibility. But at this point I feel that my view is the correct one. Sam’s article was heartfelt but not persuasive to me. That’s all I’m trying to say.

  41. Sorry Sam. I just don’t agree with you. I think we all should loving help each other to be honest in all that we do…including obeying the laws of the land.

  42. Loursat says:

    Fred, we should be able to speak the truth to others, as long as we do it with genuine humility, love, and willingness to recognize our own errors. But there is a world of difference between speaking truth and destroying other people’s lives. You have no right to decide that someone else should be deported. The family whose lives you destroy will not thank you for it.

    (I would also say that preaching to others that they don’t belong in your country is wrong and destructive. If you think that you can do that without hurting people who need your help, you are mistaken. “Speaking truth” is not its own justification.)

    As the church’s statement on this matter makes clear, we have a positive duty as Latter-day Saints to “avoid making judgments about fellow members.” More generally, life is so much better–and divine influence is so much more accessible–when we do not arrogate to ourselves the power of judge and jury over other people’s lives.

  43. Thanks for letting me share my feelings on this issue. I’m sorry if my opinion stirred up any enmity. I’ll now just quietly go back into the woodwork and resume by role as a reader (and not a poster) here.

  44. Fred, I’ve said my piece. You disagree based on some personal, but unexplained, criterion. Frankly, I don’t care about your feelings or your ranking of priorities. Jesus clearly ranked loving your neighbor in the top place, and His loving of His neighbor did not involve reporting to civil authorities individuals who were violating immigration—or any other—law. At most, he addressed the person herself, and gave her the option. Anything beyond that is sin and ego, and is clearly the beam in one’s own eye.

  45. Fred, to Jack Hughes’ point, do you think those citizens who practiced civil disobedience in Nazi Germany or in the US during the civil rights era were also wrong? If they had instead stood with the Nazis or racist Americans do you think at some point in the future humble Jews or African Americans would have thanked them?

  46. I would come here illegally too, if I thought it would save my children.

  47. Kevin Barney says:

    My copy of the latest BYU Studies Quarterly arrived, and it includes an article ny Walker A. Wright, “Ye Are No More Strangers and Foreigners” Theological and Economic Perspectives on the LDS Church and Immigration.” It’s pretty good. It describes the growing liberalization of the Church’s positions on the subject and how the Church supports humane, inclusive immigration policies. On the 12th AoF thing he says this: “However, the flow of undocumented workers could technically be reduced or eliminated by making legalization more accessible (that is, making these illegal immigrants legal). In other words, the law could be changed and subsequently obeyed, honored and sustained.”

  48. Wow, So much to comment upon. The OP makes reference to minor traffic violations, and arcane sales tax liabilities as some equivalents to illegal immigration.
    Except for children coming with their parents, most illegal immigrants know that they are violating the law. Also, the high volume of illegal entries into the country also mask and enable worse problems of illegal trade and other hard criminal activity. These correlated issues make illegal immigration (in general) more immoral than speeding on a highway. The news stories of the hardened criminals who are deported multiple times and continue to return, or those who should be deported and stay and commit violent crimes are emotionally triggering for many people who may not see a big difference between major criminals and the family in the next pew.

    I have served in a stake calling with the local Spanish language ward. Many of the adults functioned better speaking Spanish, but almost all of the children were fluent in English and if anything were under served by being in the Spanish ward, versus the closer wards to their homes. Perhaps the families may be avoiding the local ICE informants in a couple of the wards and this is why the Spanish ward continues (or is as large as it is). It would be a really tough issue if a long-time member, especially with extensive local family ties, was found to have turned in another ward member to ICE for deportation. I suspect that church attendance by the other immigrants (even the legal ones) would drop.

  49. Old Man says:

    Sam Brunson,
    “His loving of His neighbor did not involve reporting to civil authorities individuals who were violating immigration—or any other—law. At most, he addressed the person herself, and gave her the option. Anything beyond that is sin and ego, and is clearly the beam in one’s own eye.”

    Would you refuse to turn a neighbor in for child abuse, cooking up a batch of meth or running a house of ill repute? Your last comment opened the door on that. I think this much-needed discussion has swung into hyperbole.

  50. wodehousefan says:

    Like Fred, I never comment, but can’t help myself with this one. I like to use the following question to decide political issues for myself: What would Zion do? Personally, I do not think that Zion will have immigration laws. But, even if it did, I think we can be sure that Zion would not expel a member of the church for coming to Zion.

    I suspect that a meaningful portion of the United States’ blessings, economic and otherwise, since it’s founding have been due to its reception of immigrants. If we ever expel our 10 million illegal immigrants, I fear for the consequences for both our country and our souls.

    Nice post, Sam.

  51. el oso, I stand by the comparisons. Use tax, far from an arcane tax provision, is an active violation of the law that costs about $2 billion in revenue to the state of California alone. And speeding and other traffic violations lead to significant amounts of death. But importantly, they—like being in the country illegally—are not criminal violations most of the time. They’re civil violations. Moreover, given that immigrants, documented or not, are less likely than native-born Americans to commit crime, and help the economy grow, they’re an economic boon, Certainly there might be hardened criminals who continue to come in, but the fact that they’re making the news indicates that they’re the exception, not the rule.

    Which goes to Old Man’s point: your comment is of the crazy hyperbolic sort that I didn’t bother addressing in the OP because responding seemed unnecessary, given how obvious the response is. But just in case you can’t figure out the difference between child abuse and overstaying your visa: child abuse and meth production are criminal violations that harm individuals and society. (And “house of ill repute”? If you mean pimps, same answer. If you mean old-timey Nevada brothel, well, I don’t live anywhere near Nevada.)

  52. GodisGreat says:

    “Speaking truth” is not its own justification.

    I hope you and those who think like you take this to heart the next time you demand the LDS Church becomes more “transparent” with what is considered “truth.” One thing that By Common Consent can always be counted on is justifying their political viewpoints with LDS Church statements when they agree and totally rejecting them when they don’t. You know, like this OP accuses others of doing with the immigration issue.

  53. Ryan Mullen says:

    Sam, this was tremendous. I hadn’t yet considered this angle and my soul has to stretch a little, but ultimately my commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ can accommodate this new viewpoint, me thinks.

  54. johnrmuir1 says:

    I found the discussion regarding how we should perceive “undocumented” immigrants quite interesting and it certainly made me reconsider some of my thoughts on the subject. How one treats illegal aliens is certainly a moral as well as a legal issue. But the discussion so far has ignored, in my opinion, the broader issue of the law.

    Having helped write letters and work with attorneys to get legal status for three wonderful people (2 from Sweden, one from Mexico) I have seen the expense time and difficulty that it entails for people to come legally. I have heard these three people all at various times express dismay that others who ignored the law and bypassed the difficult progress are granted legal status anyway. To me this argues for a more rational and immigration system such that people of modest means and understanding are not shut out.

    Having said that, I feel this discussion avoids the broader and more difficult topic of the importance of law within the United States. After pondering this for some time, a few years ago I wrote the following “letter to the editor” of my local newspaper. In that letter I try to make the point that it is expressly BECAUSE we believe in the rule of law that immigrants are attracted to the US. As several commenters have said, an important reason for people to come is to flee violent and lawless behavior in their native countries. So, when we ignore the laws we have, are we not in essence destroying the value that immigrants seek?

    Here is the letter:

    “The recently strident debate over illegal immigration has been framed mainly in terms of economic costs and benefits, with various studies marshaled to support either viewpoint. However important the economic considerations may be, they should not overshadow the more potentially dire social consequences of failing to abide by and enforce our own immigration laws. By its nature, the persistence of illegal immigration undermines the legal compact that makes the United States a singularly successful nation.

    Unlike Japan, China, and many other nations, the United States does not depend for its stability on a unified cultural history or racial background. Instead, the United States pioneered the concept of a nation governed by just laws both enacted and obeyed by citizens. This rule of law has enabled various cultures and races to come together with imperfect but still spectacularly positive results that starkly contrast with the endless conflicts of race and culture elsewhere. We can attribute this success to the miraculously wise Constitution of the United States that embodies the principles of liberty and justice set forth in the Declaration of Independence. In short, we have been bound together by the crucial belief that everyone’s rights are enhanced by the rule of law.

    Therefore, turning a blind eye to illegal immigration has the same effect as tolerating any other lawless activity; it undermines the respect for, and trust in, the law that enables us to function as a unified society. The arrogant notion that anyone, or any group, and most particularly a non-citizen, has a special right to circumvent established law for personal advantage is the most dangerous civics lesson we can teach. If foreigners can flout immigration laws because they want a better job, why can’t citizens ignore tax laws because they want a better car? Similarly, if corporations can easily skirt the law to knowingly hire illegal workers, will they be equally lax with safety or environmental laws? When this insidious process continues to the point where the average citizen feels disadvantaged and foolish for obeying the law, our descent into chaos will be swift and certain.

    Regardless of one’s position on illegal immigration, all citizens should insist that their representatives enforce the existing laws until new laws are enacted. To permit our governments, our courts and our businesses to persist in circumventing the law is the most damaging thing we can do.”

  55. Loursat says:

    johnmuir1, that’s a thoughtful comment. I agree with you about the importance of the rule of law, but I think there’s a better conclusion on the question of undocumented immigrants. Immigration law in the U. S. is an area where the law isn’t working. The law as it stands is so contrary to economic realities that strict enforcement leads not only to economic harm, but also to horrible personal cruelties. That’s why the government has exercised such wide discretion in enforcing the law; decent people won’t bring themselves to inflict the kind of cruelty that we are seeing in the current mode of enforcement.

    The strict enforcement of cruel laws tends to degrade the rule of law as much as lax enforcement of good laws. In these circumstances, I think that above all we should insist on bringing immigration law and policy into line with economic realities and standards of human decency.

  56. The history of the Church makes clear that it doesn’t really follow the law in all cases. The Church did not comply with anti-bigamy laws for years. The Church breaks the law or tolerates breaking it when it is in its interest to do so and when it won’t be punished. Today the church has an ambiguous position about immigration. The Handbook says members shouldn’t violate immigration laws, but it doesn’t penalize those who violate immigration laws. I think the Church’s public position on immigration is intended to reassure potentially hostile governments across the world. The Church’s actual practice is to do what will get the most members.

    Are closed borders against God’s will? (that is, are all immigration laws unjust?) Is it un-Christian to report fellow believers who violate civil law? I haven’t seen a sufficient argument for the answers to these questions given by others above. It’s inconsistent to report a member for violating immigration law but not for speeding. But that doesn’t mean it’s always wrong to report a member for violating immigration law. Jesus did say “Thou shalt not judge,” but the Joseph Smith Translation adds “unrighteously.” Telling law enforcement officers that someone is breaking the law does not always mean that that someone will be punished. Early missions broke up families, meaning breaking up a family is not always wrong. And so on.

  57. Loursat says:

    Felix, I think your comment is thoughtful too, but I also disagree with you on a vital point.

    I believe that by far the most important reason the church does not favor strict enforcement of immigration laws is because of compassion. The political reasons that you mention might be minor considerations. Those political problems are far outweighed by the need to help and strengthen our brothers and sisters in their actual circumstances.

    The most important point in Sam’s comparison of immigration laws to other civil violations is that the penalty of deportation (and other vicious measures that the government is now taking) is vastly out of proportion to the violation. Deportation tears apart families and communities. It really does destroy lives. Very few of the people who are now being deported deserve that kind of punishment. This is an issue of basic human decency. To its credit, the church recognizes this.

    On a personal level, it’s crucial that people understand how consequential deportation is. When you write, Felix, that “telling law enforcement officers that someone is breaking the law does not always mean that that someone will be punished,” I suspect that you have not thought it completely through. That might be true intellectually, but I don’t want to believe that in real life you would bring such needless suffering on another child of God.

  58. Interesting how the author advocates not being judgmental, but calls those he disagrees with “liars”, “racists”, “xenophobes” and “un-christian-like”. Can you say, cognitive dissonance?

  59. It’s worth keeping in mind that crime rates for first generation immigrants (legal or not) are lower than for multigeneration Americans. And I would not put overstaying one’s visa in the same category as producing meth or abusing children. US immigration law is a mess.

  60. Jenny Harrison says:

    This is a big issue and all the comments have been informative even if I may find myself in disagreement. I do, however, understand the feelings of the person who turned in the person that is here illegally. II would never have done that myself, but like I said I understand.

    Let me explain, I worked for many years at our local food bank. We served everyone, no questions asked. We had multiple couples who were from Mexico illegally come in for food. They had children born in this country that could get food stamps. Each child got $197 a month in food stamps, with 3 or 4 children that really adds up. After having a few children they would stop coming in because they had enough food stamps to feed their family. On top of that each child was also on medicaid. The father was usually working in construction for cash under the table.

    On the other hand, we had American citizens coming in who also worked construction getting paid what the illegal person was, only they had to pay taxes, and pay for insurance, and buy their own food. They made too much to get food stamps or medicaid. One family had a child with epilepsy and was paying out big for their 4 year olds medication. I have seen many times how those here illegally can and do seem to benefit form being here almost more than some American citizens.

    Like I said I understand….

  61. Jenny Harrison, you did not know know that any of your food bank clients was being paid under the table. You do not know why anyone stopped coming in for food stamps. You do not know seneral other “facts” you claim to know. Either that, or you are fibbing when you say the food bank served clients with “no questions asked.”

  62. FYI: if you use “illegals” to refer to undocumented immigrants, I’m going to delete your comment, no questions asked. (At least, if I notice your comment. One has been deleted.)

    Jenny, like Ardis said, you’re making a ton of assumptions, none of which is warranted. The economics of immigration—both legal and not—are much more complicated, as are the questions of social safety net. Among other things, the amount of SNAP benefits people get is much more complicated than “$197/month,” depending, among other things, on family income level and number of kids (the marginal benefit decreases with each additional child).

    And the assertion that undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes is absurd. They pay sales taxes, they pay property taxes, and a significant portion pay payroll and income taxes. In fact, since they can’t collect social security, their payment of payroll taxes is a net benefit to the rest of us who will collect social security, since their payments subsidize our receipts.

    Which is to say, your understanding seems to be premised on a whole lot of false and questionable assumptions.

  63. Oh, and Jon, consider my use of “liar,” “racist,” “xenophobe,” and whatever other terminology I used my being restrained. The way I feel about a person who would call ICE on a ward member can’t be expressed in a manner suitable for a family blog.

  64. Jenny Harrison says:

    Ardis and Sam, the reason I know all this information is that part of my job was to sit down at a computer with the families and help sign them up for food stamps, medicaid, housing, whatever we thought they could qualify for. That is how I know these things. They volunteered a lot of information. Everything I have said is the truth. And yes, they did leave the food bank after having about 3 children because they no longer needed to come.

  65. Sam, thanks for making what should be the obvious point that “illegals” or “illegal person” are stupid, lazy, offensive, and inaccurate terms. I just want to emphasize the point. And it’s not the misguided political correctness taking away your right to say offensive things, it’s about being accurate. People aren’t illegal. Actions are illegal. This is the only non-criminal legal violation that certain elements of our pop culture have decided to turn into a label of the person committing it. We don’t call people that speed illegal drivers. We don’t call people that unlawfully classify their employees as independent contractors illegal employers. Immigrants that are present in violation of immigration regulations aren’t “illegals” any more than anyone else who violates federal or state regulations is.

  66. Then you were fibbing about the “no questions asked.” And I don’t believe you — for that and countless other reasons, mostly because you parrot endlessly debunked xenophobic claims, which do not reflect how safety networks actually function.

  67. Carolyn says:

    Jenny: I believe your experiences from the food bank, but I don’t think the solution is banning immigration. The solution is making sure everyone in America is provided with a basic level of food, healthcare, housing, safety, etc. The problem in your anecdote isn’t the immigrants receiving help, it’s the complicated web of laws that prevented the other persons from receiving the same assistance.

  68. The part of the immigration debate that fascinates me is how people on both sides acknowledge that “immigration is broken” and needs to be fixed. Both sides have been saying this since at least the 90s. And yet there is still this perception of undocumented aliens as “knowingly breaking the law”. Can you break something that’s already broken? If you pull up at a streetlight, and it’s broken, stuck on a red light, and you wait and wait, until you finally realize it is broken, and then decide to run the red light, are you then some master criminal? Are you a criminal at all? Or just someone dealing as best they can with something that’s broken? Something that everyone agrees is broken and has been broken for decades.

  69. Jenny Harrison says:

    Ardis, anyone could walk in and get food at our food bank. No one was required to sign up for benefits, ever. If they asked about it, we would help them.
    Carolyn, I never said anything about banning immigration. I do not believe in deporting anyone who is not a criminal. I do not believe in separating families. ( It is amazing how people put words into your mouth when you comment on this blog.) All I said was that I understood someone’s feelings. I never said I agreed with their actions.

  70. jaxjensen says:

    Ardis, the food bank offers service with no regard to the questions of the answers. Her job was the help with other gov’t services (” food stamps, medicaid, housing, whatever”) that do require questions. And she was a cog in the functioning of how the “safety networks actually function” so her experience is just as reflective of how they actually function as your own, probably more so.

    [Sam’s note: I said I’d delete any apologia for the term “illegals”; because you make a substantive point, and because I’m feeling generous, I’ll leave the first paragraph. The second, though, is gone. And seriously, this is the final warning on this.]

  71. johnrmuir1 says:

    I note that my last comment is flagged as “awaiting moderation.” I have said nothing wrong, mean spirited, inflammatory or uninformed. So if responsible comments such as mine are censored, I will have to believe that whoever is doing the flagging does not really believe in honest discussion. I am VERY disappointed. I had thought better of this site.

  72. johnmuir1, I moderated you because you referred to undocumented immigrants as “illegals.” You’re welcome to comment again—and make precisely the same points—but without the inflammatory, mean-spirited, and uninformed language.

  73. As one of the very tiny minority of Utahns who actually pays the Utah use tax, I find it hypocritical of those who report others for minor legal infractions. I mean, we are members of a church that for years ignored U.S. law by practicing polygamy. What should be think of our law-breaking ancestors? Do we think their neighbors should have turned them in?

  74. Count me uninformed (but learning a variety of things from this blog post and comments). I hope my comments are not inflammatory or mean-spirited, but I’m not always sure which words may be taken that way by whom. I appreciate Sam’s and others’ making one of their trigger words clear.

    Some might want to consider the following, though of peripheral relevance, as quoted by Spencer Fluhman:

    “Now, my dear Isaac, I had hoped to see you before now. Please let me impress upon you that no matter how many mistakes, in your opinion, I make, or James E. Talmage, or any other of the Apostles, or all of the Apostles, don’t allow that to destroy in you the testimony of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ … Let me beg of you, no matter how much you think that I am cold or harsh, that you do not allow that to affect your faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are engaged in God’s work and not man’s … Your letter has many sarcastic and cutting things in it that I could naturally take offense at and might feel disposed to not even answer, but I want you to know that I realize that you feel greatly disappointed in not continuing your work and would naturally write and say things, under the circumstances, that you would not otherwise say, and I am not in the least offended by the tone of your letter and am very anxious for you to know that I have not the least ill-will towards you.” (Heber J. Grant to Isaac K. Russell, 14 February 1922, Isaac K. Russell Papers, Stanford University Archives)

    Isaac Russell was “a well-connected and progressive LDS journalist who’d grown frustrated with the slow rate of change in Church life.”

  75. Loursat says:

    JR, Pres. Grant was a powerful man who generously forbore some apparently cutting remarks from a less powerful man. In contrast, undocumented immigrants are some of the least powerful among us. Labeling them as “illegals” is a way of keeping them down and reducing them even further. If undocumented immigrants want to forgive this kind of abuse, then good for them, but that doesn’t get at the social effect of calling them “illegal.” This is a good example of how much it matters to choose our words carefully. Sam is right to call out this abuse and to demand that we use language that more properly reflects these people’s humanity.

  76. “Oh, and Jon, consider my use of “liar,” “racist,” “xenophobe,” and whatever other terminology I used my being restrained. The way I feel about a person who would call ICE on a ward member can’t be expressed in a manner suitable for a family blog.”

    What you don’t seem to realize Sam is that the hate and anger you feel towards those of us who see this issue differently doesn’t persuade us to want to understand you and change our point of view. Frankly, it does just the opposite. What you posted (quoted above) honestly triggers me to want to call ICE on someone in my ward.
    You are clearly a very intelligent person with a gift for expressing yourself in writing that far exceeds my abilities. But that doesn’t mean you are right. Try to step away from your strong emotions and see this issue from another point of view. You may not change your position but you may find yourself able to be more understanding and respectful. That would be a good thing.

  77. And Sam, your analogies aren’t persuasive. If a member of my ward regularly drove through the church parking lot at high speeds, I would talk to them and encourage them to stop their illegal behavior. If they didn’t, I would call the police.

  78. Dang, I was going to go back into the woodwork and not post. Hard to do that on an issue like this.

  79. Loursat, You say that enforcing immigration laws “tears families apart.”
    My question is this: Are the ICE agents the ones who tore the family apart? Or is the person(s) in the family who decided to violate immigration laws the one who tore the family apart.

  80. Fred, ICE agents did. They’re under no legal obligation to split families up, or to target particular individuals.

    Moreover, your analogy doesn’t work. Driving fast through a parking lot risks real and immediate harm to individuals, something that I implicitly (in the post) and then explicitly (in the comments) said changes the calculus. So again, to be completely clear: if your undocumented neighbor ward member is cooking meth, and you know that she is cooking meth, you should certainly report her. But not because she’s undocumented: you should report her because she is at at an elevated chance of doing harm to somebody else, and you have the opportunity to stop that harm.

    But note that the exact same reasoning says that if your US-citizen ward member is cooking meth, you should report her. Nothing about immigration status affects that.

  81. Loursat, I wasn’t thinking of undocumented immigrants forgiving or not forgiving such labeling. Hence my note that the quotation was only peripherally related to the OP. I have no objection to Sam’s rejecting the use of that word. Rejecting it seems appropriate to me.

    “Abuse” is a rather loaded word, as what feels like verbal abuse to some may not be intended that way at all by the speaker and might not function that way as to some other listener. I have seen what I call verbal and emotional abuse where it was also clear that the “abuser” intended no such thing.

    Within an otherwise apparently single language there can be a variety of what I call “language communities” who understand words differently or who attach or don’t attach significantly varying connotations to the same word. I am old enough to remember, e.g., when, at least in some circles, the n-word was acceptable to the Black community so long as it was used by Blacks about themselves. The word “Negro”, simply meaning Black, was then acceptable usage by those who were not Black. It was neither derogatory nor abusive nor offensive, but simply on a par with Caucasian. Then “Negro” became offensive and “Black” was preferred. Then, at least, in some circles “Black” became offensive and African-American or African was preferred. In other circles “Black” remains acceptable. It should not be expected that all English speakers are somehow immediately up to date on what words (whether accurate or “short-hand” for a longer descriptive phrase) have become offensive rather than merely descriptive.

    It seems unwise to assume that everyone who has used the offensive word as to undocumented immigrants have any intention of abusing them or “keeping them down [or] reducing them even further.” Some do seem to intend that; others do not. Perhaps they should be allowed an opportunity to learn what words are offensive in your language community before concluding that they are individually racist, abusers, or whatever.

    I’m in agreement with you and Sam that the i-word should be eliminated as a label for undocumented immigrants, for the very reasons you and Sam and JKC have pointed out.

  82. Loursat says:

    JR, thank you. I agree that some people who say “illegals” might not intend to be abusive. They have unwittingly adopted an unkind epithet in their casual speech. All the more important, then, for them to understand how destructive that choice of language really is–in any “language community.”

  83. jaxjensen says:

    “Undocumented immigrant” makes it sound like they came here just like all other immigrants, but have lost their documentation. Like their passport was stolen or their papers were accidentally thrown away. But they didn’t. They didn’t come through “the front door” and simply forgot to get their paperwork. They didn’t follow the same process as many other immigrants who ARE documented and here legally. So how do we distinguish them, those who followed the regular process and those who didn’t? They aren’t different because they don’t have “documents.” They are different, and therefore distinguished as such, by the legality under which they entered. So if you don’t like the “I” word being used to describe them, fine. How about “disorderlies” since they didn’t follow the regular order of business to come? Or “rejects” if they were rejected by the legal immigration process (or because they choose to reject that process)? (Rejects seems even worse to me tbh).

    Or is the argument simply semantics… ” if you use “illegals” to refer to undocumented immigrants, I’m going to delete your comment” Do you simply mean that we can’t call the people “illegals” but it would be fine to say they came here illegally? So rather than saying, “You’re an illegal” you want us to say, “You are a person who came here illegally.” That way I’m not referring to the PERSON as illegal (since as you pointed out that applies to many people regardless of immigration status) but am simply describing their actions as such, just as we would for say someone drives illegally for not having a license. Would that fix the issue for you Sam? If we stopped saying “they are an illegal” and used the more accurate “they are a person who came here illegally.” ?

  84. johnrmuir1 says:

    LC, I am not certain that your broad assertion that “undocumented” aliens commit crime at a lower rate than native born citizens is accurate. According to a Homeland Security Report released in Dec 2017: “more than one-in-five of all persons in Bureau of Prisons custody were foreign born, and 94 percent of confirmed aliens in custody were unlawfully present.” While this probably does not tell the whole story, neither do the palliative statements that “undocumented” immigrants commit crimes at rates lower than the native population. I think most such claims deal only with violent crime, but ignore other illegal actions.

    I remember the plumber who worked on my home telling me that he was being pushed out of business by companies that hired “undocumented” persons, paid low wages in cash, and of course did not pay any payroll taxes. He thought that was a crime that disadvantaged him as a law abiding citizen. I have to agree. Also consider also the vast trade in fake IDs and Social Security cards – what is the purpose? Of course the objective is to extract benefits illegally. Is that the same as jaywalking?

    I am an economist by profession, so I favor a pro-immigration program that is fair and intelligible. I think we can all agree the current law and the way it is administered are neither. However, I assert that the right approach, and ultimately the best approach for our nation, is to work strongly to amend unjust or unwise laws rather than to subvert the law, leading to disregard for the law and ultimately endless confusion.

  85. jax, if you want to say “a person who came here illegally,” I won’t moderate your comment. It’s probably inaccurate as a broad descriptor, since a majority of undocumented immigrants (contra your assertion) came here legally (that is, again in your words, through the front door) and overstayed their visas. If you want to say “persons who are in the country illegally,” that’s okay, too, and, while a bit wordy, certainly an accurate description. I prefer (as you can see) “undocumented immigrants,” but I’m not such a heavy-handed moderator that I expect people to use my preferred formulation (though I believe it’s the most descriptively accurate).

  86. And johnrmuir1, I’m not sure that saying that 20% of individuals being held by the Bureau of Prisons were non-US citizens tells us anything about the propensity of immigrants to commit crimes. A little more than seven percent of people held by the BoP last month were being held on immigration offenses; that 7% couldn’t be US citizens. The remaining 13 percentage points? The data I can find [here] doesn’t say anything about their legal status within the US system. Were they here legally? illegally? were they residents? visitors? There’s no way to tell.

    But, in addition, the numbers there are really small: we’re talking a little over 180,000 people. The US has about 2.25 million people incarcerated. So 20% of less than 10% of people incarcerated in the US are non-citizens, and about 1/3 of those people are incarcerated in part because they’re non-citizens. There may well be other non-citizens arrested in the state and local systems, and some of those may be in the country illegally, but the BoP numbers don’t tell us that.

  87. John Mansfield says:

    On the payroll tax issue, one factor is 1099 “self employment.” My sons have been so employed, and neither social security nor federal income tax nor state income tax is deducted from their wages. It has been up to them to pay the thousands of dollars themselves directly to the IRS and the state comptroller. In fact as “self employers” it is up to them to also pay the employers’ portion of social security tax. Their self-employed status is a fiction utilized by many employers to skirt laws regarding health benefits and unemployment compensation. It is quite a hostile arrangement faced by the young wage earner compared to when I was a young man.

  88. No one knows exactly how many people have overstayed their visas, but it is a very large number. Oddly enough, a large number of overstays are Canadians. I would not, of course, turn in an overstayer, assuming all things were otherwise in order, but overstaying a visa can have serious legal consequences, and I would advise any overstayer to get legal assistance in rectifying the matter as soon as possible. Rudy has the right idea. Get on a merciful and legal path to fixing the problem.

  89. Here are the choices for many of these people (first person is hypothetical):

    1. Stay in El Salvador etc., where the gangs have more power than the police, my children are in danger every day, and the gang is starting to actively recruit my 11-year-old son (not to mention the looks they’re giving my 13-year-old daughter) and where we’re lucky to get enough food on the table because I can only find part-time work; or,

    2. We take a dangerous trip across the border, into Mexico, through Mexico, and finally into the U.S.–a trip that has a high chance of failure, that costs more than we can afford, and that will take us at least a month, but that may result in us not having to worry about being killed by gangs, and where there is a high demand for unskilled labor. And yes, it’s against the law to cross the border in secret.

    There is no other option. There is no legal way into the U.S. for the vast majority of these people. So it’s either Option 1 or 2.

    Men in the church are taught that one of their top responsibilities is caring for their family. If they can’t make enough money to support their family in their home country due to conditions entirely outside their control, or if their family is in danger because of the conditions in their home country (and several countries in Central America are especially dangerous) what do they do? Is the moral obligation to care for their family really less important than an obligation to not illegally enter the U.S.?

  90. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    jaxjensen, the immigration restrictionist Ron Unz did a pretty thorough analysis back in 2010 showing that, when controlling for the fact that illegal immigrants are disproportionately men in their twenties and thirties–i.e., the principal demographic for committing violent crime–illegal immigrants as a whole are less prone to criminal activity than native-born Americans. This should make intuitive sense: if you know that deportation is on the other side of that bar fight, you’re going to hesitate to throw a punch, especially knowing that it’s going to cost you an enormous amount of money to get back into the US.*

    Unz warned that immigration restrictionists who kept using crime as an argument (vs. wage competition and strain on social services) made it easier to paint all restrictionists as racist. It seems his warnings fell on deaf ears.

    *Some LDS dudes from my old singles ward in Santa Monica produced and starred in a decently made indie film called Coyote in which they played white Americans who decided to try to start smuggling people across the border at rates much lower than the coyotes, playing on the blatant racial profiling of the Border Patrol. As one might imagine, the criminal organizations that control the human smuggling racket don’t take too kindly to the competition, with predictably unpleasant results.

  91. 270winn says:

    The phrase “undocumented immigrant” is to me a dishonest attempt to obfuscate the fact that the person has entered our country in violation of immigration law. Illegal immigrant is precise and accurate.
    We would never call a shoplifter an “un-receipted shopper” nor would we call someone who chooses to not pay income taxes that are owed an “un1040’ed tax payer.”

  92. Honestly, Sam, &tc, I don’t know how you’ve held out so long. I’d have given up on humanity 50 comments ago. Good on you.

  93. I think we should all keep in mind, in 1847, when the pioneers entered the Salt Lake valley, they were undocumented immigrants in Mexico. Seems like the air up on some of those high horses is getting a little thin and people need to come on down and learn some compassion.

    Who even is going around their wards and requesting “papers” from their fellow congregants? It’s creepy and stinks of militaristic ideology.

  94. Rudy Delira says:

    270winn, sorry to say, but I would graciously disagree with your choice of words in undocumented vs illegal. So far as the State would consider (US), the constitution would require that all men (documented or not, black, white, or otherwise), are allowed the ‘due-process’ of law till proven guilty by a jury or judge. That said, insisting that someone is ‘illegal’ is purely accusatory and without due process. One should not take the ownership of pretending we are attorney’s thus belonging to the legal profession, or that of a person who practices jurisprudence. Until that is been legally pronounced upon someone – I therefore will remove myself from that affiliation. The term ‘illegal’ is connotative and has a stigma of someone beneath another, just because they are foreign, different, or otherwise. A person who came to this country in duress due to the lawlessness of their country to protect their families likewise, is also undocumented or an asylum, as mentioned for political or safety reasons. I am quite surprised of the nature and tone of this thread in terms of why many are quick to place a label that makes for a marginalized group of people. Yet, the Savior’s focus was not just his Father’s work, but for these specific people throughout the scriptures – including his family at one point while on their escape to Egypt.

  95. jaxjensen says:

    Heptaparaparshinokh, I think you mistook me for some other commenter. I haven’t said anything about other crime rates of “people who have come here illegally” (PWHCHI’s). I do agree though that it is easy to paint “restrictionists” as racist, but I think it is mostly inaccurate. I’d deport a European, Oriental, Arab, or Latino with equal speed. (I would deport all PWHCHI’s immediately if possible. But I want to vastly loosen restrictions on legal immigration making it easier for people to come in. So I don’t really identify with the term “restrictionist” being used as those who favor deportation for PWHCHI’s. I don’t really have a replacement.)

    *Those dudes have some serious issues. I hope they are at least still alive to deal with them.

  96. Cloves Wrote “I think we should all keep in mind, in 1847, when the pioneers entered the Salt Lake valley, they were undocumented immigrants in Mexico.”

    This is exactly what makes me feel uneasy about our church. We have a history of playing fast and loose with the law when it serves our purposes. I believe that our church leaders (past and present) will one day be held accountable before God for the way they have chosen to disregard the law.

  97. jaxjensen says:

    The GA’s do lots of traveling. Has anyone ever heard of them traveling into a country in violation of the host countries entry laws? Have they ever had a visa denied but went anyway? Or stayed after a visa expired (seems highly unlikely given how quick their trips are)? I know they are adamant that missionaries MUST have all legal documents in order before a missionary is sent abroad. Is there any example from modern GA’s that it is okay to violate the entry/immigration laws of any nation other than the US’s laws? Anyone have any examples?

  98. jax,

    I know they are adamant that missionaries MUST have all legal documents in order before a missionary is sent abroad.

    This is definitely not true. As I said in the OP (and plenty of people have said in the comments), I know, personally and through second-hand stories, plenty of missionaries who used, for example, a Dutch visa to stay in Belgium as a missionary. Or who had visas that required them to leave the country periodically who didn’t do so.

    Again (and as I said in the OP) that wasn’t an issue on my mission, because eastern Brazil didn’t allow for such ease of crossing national borders.The church is (or at least was when I and most people I know were on missions) super-casual about visas for missionaries, and generally only does the hard work of getting them taken care of when a missionary gets caught.

  99. Sam, Do you feel good about belonging to a church that teaches it’s members to be honest yet blatantly engages in that kind of dishonest behavior? I don’t.
    I still sustain our leaders, but they are clearly not perfect and God will hold them accountable.

  100. Sam, Fred,

    My experience is that the Church IS very serious about having proper visas for missionaries (for host countries that care about and require visas, of course). This is as it should be. Missionaries have been temporarily reassigned to other areas while awaiting visas that didn’t come through on time. I certainly had to go through all the proper steps (fingerprints, background checks, etc.) for a visa for my senior mission and knew my overseas departure would be delayed if the visa was delayed. Some missionaries out of the thousands in the field may have broken the rules, but the Church as a matter of policy spends a lot of time and effort to comply with the laws of the host countries, as it should.

  101. johnrmuir1 says:

    An open question to understand the position of those who want either much less legal hassle in gaining entry to the US or perhaps just more lax enforcement of the complicated system we have. Would you:
    1) grant immediate citizenship to anyone who shows up?
    2) grant immediate citizenship to those who are fleeing from violent regions?
    3) grant immediate citizenship to who are seeking asylum as a persecuted minority in their native region?
    4) grant immediate citizenship to families in preference to singles?
    5) grant something less than citizenship to those groups, with a probation period to attain citizenship?
    6) grant citizenship immediately to those with needed job skills and work cards for those who don’t have such skills?

    That is part of my problem – I don’t know what some people are really advocating. Please help me understand what you would like to see happen.

  102. Response:
    1. No.
    2. No. A thorough background check, then a green card (permanent residency). Green card can eventually lead to citizenship, but can also be revoked due to criminal activity and other factors.
    3. See #2.
    4. No.
    5. Yes. It’s called the green card process, and we already use it for those lucky enough to be eligible for it. Unfortunately, most those groups aren’t eligible for it.
    6. No. Green card process for both groups.

    Right now, we deport those who are fleeing from violent regions unless they can prove that they’re a persecuted minority. Even kids from violent regions get sent back. Right now, businesses are hurting because not enough temporary non-agricultural visas are being granted (despite the fact that the President could boost the economy by increasing the number of these temporary visas) and because not enough visas are offered to skilled workers. Additionally, over a million people are losing the right to work and live in the U.S. due to the President’s termination of DACA and TPS; these are primarily young people who graduated from high school in the U.S. or they’re from particularly unstable countries, and their families and employers will also be harmed when these people are forced to return to the countries they were born in.

    Most people who are pro-immigration and who are educated on the subject support background checks and a green card process instead of immediate citizenship.

  103. Why does it have to be that immigrants become citizens in their country of residency? Especially given the fact that modern travel options are affordable to even people of modest means? Aren’t many migrant workers already sending money to their home countries to help their families?

  104. May I ask all of you a question: If it were another law a ward member was breaking, would you feel you could turn them in to the civil authorities for prosecution? Or speak to the bishop? If so, where would you draw the line? At murder, drug dealing, illegal drug use (and would you turn in for some drugs and not others?), abortion, adultery, abuse of spouse, abuse of children, tax fraud, cheating their way through college? Where is your line in the sand? Is it different if they are not ward members?
    I have personally overlooked some things I knew ward members were doing and reported on others. Before the debate begins with someone telling me I could not know for sure, may I say I knew, either because they personally told me or told someone close to me. A friend who prepares taxes for a living told me she is always trying to let clients know she cannot file their returns if they tell her they are cheating on their taxes and then enquire about the chances they will be audited. Yet they do it all the time. And I worked for years in investment banking where senior partners and members of the accounting staff bragged around the office about the false stories they created to cover the frauds they were committing. They were very proud of their stories. (One of the men who began work there shortly after I left now teaches at BYU Education Week about his successful career at the firm and how by following his example, you too can become a millionaire. And yes, I did tell him right before he started exactly what was going on.)
    So I ask, where do you draw the line? Do you speak up at the baptism when you suddenly realize the person who will be doing the baptizing is guilty of unconfessed adultery (because he personally told you that a few weeks earlier)? Do you go to the police when you realize the mother in your ward is using crystal meth and neglecting her children? ( I went to the bishop; he chose not to go to the police or to speak to her about it.) Do you contact the bishop when your single friend tells you she had sex with her fiance and is going to lie to the bishop about it so she can marry in the temple? What about when your visiting teaching partner, a high school teacher, tells you she has decided to experiment with illegal drugs and is buying them from a student at the high school where she teaches? At what point do you become complicit in the crime?

  105. Kristine says:

    There’s a pretty easy answer, Margie–“vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.”

    The single exception would be when someone else’s safety is at risk, as in the case of child abuse or domestic violence. Then it’s not a matter of taking punishment into your own hands, but of protecting the helpless.

  106. Margie, some of the examples you give are crimes and some of the examples you give are sins. When the woman was taken in adultery in the New Testament it was both; still Jesus said we should not judge unless we had no sins of our own. I think we can all safely leave our fellow congregants spiritual progress between them and God, and err on the side of mercy when we do not know what to do.

    To answer your question my personal line would be to intervene for the safety of a child – and I would do it by reporting directly to the authorities.

  107. But Kristine, what if *my* safety is at risk because it pains me so much to think of undocumented immigrants paying so much in taxes into a system that they don’t receive full benefits from?

  108. Margie, almost all of the things you listed violate criminal laws, not civil laws, and they have victims.

    Margie, if you lived in Honduras and your daughters were targets for rapes used by gang members for initiations and your sons were considered the human capital of gangs who would force them to commit rapes or murders as gang initiations, what would you do? It sounds like you would put your name on a waiting list and wait 15 years for the chance to apply to come to the United States “legally”. Are you sure you could keep your daughters and sons safe during the intervening time? How would you protect your children?

    Is it moral *not* to try to immigrate, whether legally or illegally, to a safer place if your children are in danger?

  109. john f, If someone lives in a country with conditions as dire as you have described, the right thing to do is to band together with other people of good will and get to work fixing it. Do the hard work of making your country great again. Running away and illegally entering another country is not only morally wrong, it’s cowardly too.

  110. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Fred: Obviously the Israelites should have banded together with other Egyptians of good will and made Goshen great again for themselves rather than running away and illegally entering Canaan, right?

    I don’t think you actually put much thought into what you wrote there, and I don’t think you’ve actually put any introspection into your political beliefs.

  111. Hep, What if it turns out that I have put a lot of thought into what I wrote and that I have been very introspective in regards to my political beliefs? It may be hard to fathom, but that might mean that you and I look at a particular issue and just happen to (gasp!) see it differently.

  112. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    You do realize that these countries barely emerged from decades of civil wars funded both overtly and covertly by the US as part of the Cold War, right?

    If you were going to say, “Let’s go help the people of Central American countries help themselves and right the wrongs we committed,” that’d be one thing. But you’re not, not at all. Instead, you’re accusing people who are making the very rational decision to flee a hopeless situation of cowardice and immorality.

    You have not remotely attempted to put yourself in their shoes, and you cannot possibly tell me that you have. You have failed intellectually and morally.

  113. Fred, we’re talking about getting your kids out of committing forced rape and murder or being the victims of those crimes (gang initiations are known to include forcing youth to rape or murder others). Committee work isn’t going to solve that. Murdering a few of the gang members who show up to rape your daughter won’t work either. They’ll kill you and torture her to death in reprisal. Fleeing the country is an honorable option. It might be the morally required option, depending on your circumstances — it might be *immoral* to stay and subject your kids to such immediate threat of danger and a ruined future.

    Your comment accuses people in these dire situations of causing their own suffering. You are saying, “If only those lazy immigrants would just stand up and help themselves, they’d be fine. If only they were upstanding, fine middle-class Americans like me, they’d never settle for a corrupt government that has ignored and contributed to catastrophically bad living conditions for most people in the country. If these immigrants weren’t so danged lazy, they’d stand up to extortionists or gang members seizing their children and say “No!” I’m an upstanding person and won’t stand for your criminal behavior. If they just weren’t so lazy they’d rise up in a revolution and fight a huge civil war for their freedom and democracy!” (Look how well that’s worked in Syria.)

    As for your little political wink-wink nod to Donald Trump (“making your country great again”), he is the most corrupt, immoral, disgraceful, dishonest, greedy, inept, slanderous, bigoted person we’ve ever had in the Oval Office. I applaud the many who are working around the clock to “make our country great again” by getting Trump out of office as fast as possible. Your comment also reveals a good deal of anti-Americanism, implying America was no longer great because of a black president so that now it has to be made great again now that President Obama has finished his term. Shameful.

  114. It’s so strange, too, because usually people who share the political views you seem to espouse (as you revealed not just in your support for sending ICE to your neighbors’ house to tear apart their family but also in your nod to Trump when you talked about making their country “great again”) are the first to say “If you don’t like Donald Trump’s corruption and incompetence, get out of this country!” Amazing double standard.

  115. Kristine says:

    “If someone lives in a country with conditions as dire as you have described, the right thing to do is to band together with other people of good will and get to work fixing it. Do the hard work of making your country great again. Running away and illegally entering another country is not only morally wrong, it’s cowardly too.”

    That is a *really* weird thing for a Mormon to say. How many places (with dramatically less dire conditions than current ones in Central America) did early Mormons flee?

  116. Goodness gracious. Who are these commenters who know so many, many vicious criminals? And what’s wrong with these vicious criminals that they all willingly spill their criminal secrets to Margie and Fred and Jenny? I haven’t personally known even a single person whom I know to be guilty of the crimes listed by our commenters here, yet it seems that every third person Margie and Fred and Jenny know is a candidate for the gas chamber!

  117. Ardis, I know you are exaggerating with your gas chamber comment, but I too have known people guilty of all these sins/crimes. And the difference between sins and crimes is just the time and culture where they are defined. Many drug violations our laws once defined as criminal, we now call civil offenses. The violation has not changed, just the definition we give it. The Book of Mormon makes this clear when it contrasts the way the righteous Lamanites dealt with the anti-Christs versus the way the Nephites did. Since I am not intending to take my moral cues from the legislature, I too would like to know how others make these determinations in their lives when they become aware of legal or serious moral violations.
    How is it that I know these people? Because I live outside the Mormon corridor and I talk with the people I work with. Twice in my career in finance the women who sat next to me at work turned out to be involved in the drug trade. One was using her position in a financial firm to finance her side business of selling cocaine. One was supplying the CEO with his drug supply. The information was made public when one committed suicide to avoid prosecution and the other was bailed out of jail following her arrest. How do I know? I typed the check and booked the entry in the payroll that paid the bail and was told by the CFO the circumstances. But many people in the firms knew about these things before; several of them were involved as well. Lovely married couples who sat next to me at Thanksgiving dinner, people my husband and I considered offering a Book of Mormon.
    I once worked in a well-known financial firm where people were regularly snorting coke in the restrooms. It was not like people were hiding these things as a dark secret. Any more than they were hiding the affairs so many of the married men were conducting with younger women in the firm. No, they were bragging about their encounters, even passing pictures around the office. One famous story was a partner who took out a life insurance policy through the firm leaving the proceeds to his “friend” at work. When his wife found out, she insisted he double the amount and split the proceeds between her and his girlfriend. We knew the details because HE TOLD US and because we would run into him and the girlfriend when we were out at lunch. And because his wife TOLD US.
    And somewhere in the FBI files is probably a picture of me at a national sporting event sitting next to a man who was revealed a year later to be an international drug lord. We shared a connection through the sport and a common friend who interacted with him through the sport and during that time discovered that his rug import business was really a sham designed to launder money and allow him to visit Afghanistan to buy rugs and drugs. I did not know until he showed up as the subject of a 60 Minutes report, but my friend knew. We discussed it after and the steps he had taken to keep himself off the federal authorities radar once he found out. Was he complicit once he discovered what was going on? Should he have quit his job in the sport because one of the people involved was a big-time drug dealer? Does he need to give up his career of 30 years because one of the new players ends up being a criminal? Does the size of the drug enterprise come into your calculation or the type of drugs involved? Would you turn someone in if it was cocaine and not if it was marijuana?
    A close friend from Church told me she had serious problems at work in Key West, Florida because the woman who sat next to her was married to a drug runner while her husband was part of the Coast Guard program designed to stop and arrest him. Both women worked in a Key West hotel as part of the administrative staff. The woman was quite open about her husband’s job.
    Did you honestly think people still hid this? You really do need to get out more.
    Would you turn in your undocumented ward member if you discovered he was involved in smuggling other members out of Honduras? Would you turn him in if you thought he was profiting from this? Where do you draw your lines?

  118. Anonforthis says:

    “Would you turn in your undocumented ward member if you discovered he was involved in smuggling other members out of Honduras? Would you turn him in if you thought he was profiting from this? Where do you draw your lines?”

    I served my mission in Germany many years ago. An investigator from Eastern Europe was involved with smuggling people from Eastern Europe into Germany. He was not wealthy, and he had a regular day job (albeit not a very glamorous one); however, I imagine he made some money from this. The foreigners stayed in his small basement for a few weeks before moving on, and I got to know a few of them. Some genuinely nice people. The investigator was fairly active in the church and eventually was baptized.

    Are you really saying that I had an obligation to turn the investigator and those staying with him in to the police? Or, alternatively, that ward members (his home teachers, perhaps) had that responsibility? Do you honestly think that’s what Jesus would do?

  119. Years ago I met a member who was a “communist” in Switzerland during WWII. Asked why, she responded that the communists were the only ones in her area helping Jews get out of Germany and into France (before France fell to Germany). Her activities at the time were quite illegal. I’m rather glad no one felt obligated to turn her in to the authorities. I imagine none of the people she helped were “documented”.

  120. Thank you Fred for pointing out what should be obvious. There are differing viewpoints on this and not agreeing with the OP does not mean you are unthinking or unfeeling or evil.
    JR, I think ChrisH was actually asking the question, not telling you his/her opinion. Do you have a personal answer or just another story? At what point do you become complicit in a crime? What do you consider a crime that should be reported? Where is your line? I have wrestled with this because I do know people who have been involved in what I consider serious crimes. Some I have turned in and some I have not. I have worked in jobs where I had a legal obligation to report and ignored it because of the collateral damage I knew it would do. Does that make me a law unto myself? Sometimes I think it does. Other times, I know I saved one family from being separated even if another was damaged by my failure to act. Difficult moral choices, ones I still struggle with.

  121. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Eve, I said Fred was a moral and intellectual failure because he said that Central Americans faced with murderous gangs and an indifferent (at best) government should, instead of fleeing for (relative) safety, somehow band together–in the face of heavily armed and well financed opposition–to “make their [countries] great again.” This is, to be blunt, one of the stupidest things I have ever read. Additionally, given that a sizable portion of our Church illegally immigrated into what was then Mexico in 1846-47 to flee persecution and an indifferent (at best) government, it shows a stunning lack of empathy.

  122. Thank you Eve.

  123. Jr, I was actually asking the question. Where do you draw the line on what to report?

  124. I commented for many years as “Chris H.” Wanted to make it clear that ChrisH is not me. Likely obvious…

  125. ChrisH, Thanks for reducing the multiplicity of questions (rhetorical or otherwise) to one that purports to be a real question. I failed to perceive you as asking me and I don’t know why anyone would suppose that my little 2d hand story was a response to you.

    While I don’t believe anyone in this discussion actually has any interest in where I would draw the line on what to report, here is my current response to your question: I won’t draw a line. i reject the question. I think I would prefer to deal with each occurrence, if there ever were one that involved me, as a unique occurrence to be evaluated on its own circumstances. I expect I would perceive the relevant circumstances to include much more than the nature of any possibly illegal activity I might know of or hear a rumor or confession of. The relevant circumstances could even include what I felt spiritually prompted to do in a particular situation – however insensitive I may or may not be to spiritual promptings. Note, however, that I am not currently in any position that would create any reporting obligation. That has not always been the case.

    You may infer whatever you choose from my little 2d hand story or from the fact that I did not report the one undocumented immigrant family I knew of in my ward some years ago.

    There sure are a lot of hot words and demanding questions and accusations flying around in the comments to recent posts on this subject. I may have just missed it because I haven’t really studied all the comments in any depth, but I haven’t perceived any genuine interest in whatever little I chose to add to the discussion, or, for that matter, in any comments that expressed or even suggested an opinion or concern different from ones own a priori position. This may just be my failure of perception. Perhaps there are some commenters really interested in learning from others.

  126. There’s a lot of truth in Hep’s 9:14pm comment above, Fred. It would be well worth your while to push a little pride to the side for a moment and think very carefully about what Hep said there and elsewhere in this thread.

  127. Yeah, Chris, that was obvious to me at least!

  128. After years of wrestling with my conscience over my moral obligations toward my community, my work, my church and my family, I have decided to draw the line at reporting no one. When I was younger, I tried to be what I thought was a good citizen; it never, ever worked out. The authorities once told me that simply having in my possession documents that proved my boss was committing a financial fraud made me guilty of possession of stolen documents. That was it for me.
    I simply pretend I am unaware, something that is not easy when you work in finance, where financial fraud is a part of the landscape. I have failed to report parents who I have reason to believe are endangering their children through their use of illegal drugs. I have failed to report to my bishops friends who told me they had cheated in their marriages or were currently committing adultery but attending the temple. I have failed to do anything about friends I know are cheating on their taxes. I will not turn in my neighbors who are breaking the immigration laws, but neither will I call the police if I hear your husband attacking you or your children or if I know it was the neighbor’s child who broke your window, then entered and robbed your home. People can stand up for themselves. I no longer trust our leaders, whether church or government to do what is right. The people with money and power protect their kind. It is the poor who are punished.

  129. MLK Jr. says:

    Sam,

    The accurate legal term is “illegal alien”. “Undocumented immigrant” is a biased term that inaccurately describes many of the illegal aliens who cross our borders on a temporary basis and without the intention of immigrating to the US to live. Regardless, trying to control the terms of the debate by excluding the accurate legal definitions/language is unproductive, and frankly shows a lack of confidence on your side in the strength of our arguments.

  130. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Anna: I think you’ve gone a bit too far. Perhaps the question to ask in deciding whether to report illegal activity (whether civil or criminal) is: “is this person hurting anyone in a real, measurable way?” If all you can do is cite aggregate statistics on emergency room utilization rates and tax burdens, BTW, the answer in the case of an illegal immigrant is a pretty clear “no.”

    If your friends are cheating on their spouses and telling you with the expectation that you will keep it in confidence, though, you may want to reevaluate the terms of your friendship with these people.

  131. The Church in El Salvador has over 125,000 members, three missions, and a temple.

    The government of El Salvador is not indifferent to crime and has been working hard to reduce it, with mixed success. The same could be said of the Chicago Police Department.

    In most countries and cities in the world there are safe places and not-safe places. Some countries are consistently safer than others. Switzerland is much safer than the Democratic Republic of the Congo. El Salvador is safe enough to have three missions. Syria is not.

    You can find discussions online for the question of whether it is safe to visit El Salvador.

  132. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    MLKJr: I think Sam’s objection is simply to referring to illegal/undocumented/unauthorized/haram aliens/immigrants as “illegals.”

    “Illegal alien” is a broader term that encompasses, as you mention, both persons intending permanent residency and those who do not intend a permanent stay. As a note, though, the latter group is not especially large for the population of illegal aliens with which most Americans are concerned–namely, Mexican and Central American nationals who arrive by the southern border. (As opposed to European and especially Asian nationals who come here by airplane and overstay tourist visas.) It’s way too expensive to get “across the wire” more than once a decade, if even that often.

    On that note:

  133. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Leo: El Salvador has calmed down a lot in the past decade. It’s Guatemala and especially Honduras that are facing the worst problems with the transnational gangs. Even if the highest levels of government try to tackle crime, endemic corruption at the boots-on-the-ground level renders those intentions moot.

    The Church creates missions in unsafe places all the time. Russia in the 1990s was a dangerous place once you left the wealthy parts of Moscow and Petersburg. When I lived in L.A. I met many missionaries with wonderful things to say about the work in parts of Watts where, at the time, LAPD wouldn’t send officers in any group smaller than four.

  134. Loursat says:

    In legal usage, “illegal alien” is not more correct than “undocumented immigrant,” “undocumented alien,” or “unauthorized alien.” All of these phrases can be found in technical legal discussions. For the purposes of our discussion here, the crucial point is that all of these phrases also have rhetorical and political meanings, not just legal significance. “Illegal alien” and especially the shorter version, “illegal” as a noun, have a spiteful meaning in common usage. People who use these words are not just referring to a person’s immigration status, they’re branding the person as inferior. That’s a deliberate political choice that ought to be called out for what it is.

  135. Rudy Delira says:

    Thanks for your comments MLK Jr., but please state your sources. To suggest that this is the correct name authoritatively, should be backed by the proper resources. Thanks!

  136. Exodus 22:21 “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

    Doesn’t get much clearer than that. Of course, those who love to cite the Levitical prohibition against homosexuality will twist themselves into knots explaining why this verse doesn’t apply to brown-skinned people from South and Central America.

  137. Re Honduras:

    Honduras has over 175,000 Church members. 236 congregations, a temple, and four missions.

    Honduras currently carries a level 3 travel advisory (reconsider travel), as is the case with Russia, Turkey, and a number of Central American and African countries. Based on murder rates, several US cities would have a level 3 status if they were separate countries.

    The Church takes the safety of its missionaries very seriously, including confidential surveys and withdrawal of missionaries on occasion. Within missions, some areas are considered safe and some are not. The Church monitors these conditions constantly. Every congregational leader should also take the safety of his members seriously.

    Re refugees:

    The Church is very supportive of refugees, as it should be. There are wholesale problems (e.g. Syria, a level 4 country) and individual problems. Wholesale problems need to be addressed on a mass basis (refugee camps, major resettlement programs, massive aid distribution). Individual problems should be addressed on an individual basis. The U.S. does have a U.S. Resettlement Program (USRP), administered through the Departments of Homeland Security, State, and Health and Human Services, including the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The ORR provides short-term cash and medical assistance to new arrivals, as well as case management services, English classes, and job readiness and employment services. Other developed countries and international agencies have similar programs. These services are designed to facilitate the refugees’ successful transition into their new country and help them to attain self-sufficiency. Church members have assisted in these efforts both on an individual basis and on an organized basis.

  138. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    My stake assists the ORR pretty extensively, to the annoyance of some Trumpkins who are convinced that the Afghan translators and their families who are being resettled because they have Taliban death sentences on their heads are actually Al-Qaeda/Islamic State sleeper agents.

  139. Hep, Labeling and attempting to marginalize a group of people who support the current President of the United States with a derisive and childish term (like “trumpkin”) undermines your credibility and frankly exudes at worst a mean and unChrist-like heart and at best a lack of confidence in your own convictions. Diversity is a wonderful thing. Lets celebrate the diverse viewpoints and voices here on BCC without resorting to insults.

  140. Someone who calls undocumented immigrants “cowardly” for fleeing rampant violence with their families probably shouldn’t act like a victim when someone calls them a Trumpkin.

  141. In contemporary internet terms: IZ U BUTTHURT?

    It’s really remarkable how people who support a politician whose campaign printed “TRUMP 2016 – STOP THE PC BULLS***” bumper stickers, and at whose rallies shirts saying things like “Trump That B****” and “F*** Your Feelings” were among the choice items of clothing worn, suddenly get all upset at the possibility of there being negative social consequences for their support.

    One thing I’ve noticed in general about culturally conservative blue-collar white Americans (around many, many of whom I live in inland SoCal) in recent years is an obsession with being respected, without any willingness to give it in return. To use yet another meme: That’s not how any of this works!

  142. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    ^^^ above comment was written by me, BTW, I haven’t posted on BCC on this particular computer in ages and I’d switched screen names a while back

  143. John F, No one can consider anything Hep says seriously because he is so insulting in the way he delivers his opinion.

  144. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Tone policing is the standard fallback of people who don’t have the courage of their convictions. Certainly there is much to be said for social graces, but one of the reasons they exist is to prevent truly honest expression and conceal real differences in fundamental values. I come from a different cultural and intellectual background from most American Latter-day Saints; I have little time for the relentless shallow niceness that characterizes American Mormon culture (and often conceals genuine nastiness).

    I have to give Trump and especially Steve Bannon credit: they’ve gotten a pretty sizable portion of the American public to drop the facade of niceness and start being real about their fear and hatred of people unlike themselves.

  145. jaxjensen says:

    Apparently name calling is a well known indicator of having “courage of their convictions”

    “they’ve gotten a pretty sizable portion of the American public to drop the facade of niceness and start being real about their fear and hatred of people unlike themselves.” And since you admit to having dropped the façade of niceness in the paragraph preceding this, we can all rightly know/understand that you are talking about yourself as one who has “fear and hatred of people unlike [yourself].”

  146. Hepta…,

    There is indeed much to be said for social graces. Be honest without being insulting.

  147. Duckbites says:

    Heptaparaparshinokh I did a little search and forund this about Wife with a purpose. There was the “second” PR statement and then this (I know that Rational Wiki is hardly level handed but it does source itself)
    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Wife_with_a_Purpose
    She is a bigger bundle of crazy than I had previously thought

  148. Hey Sam! Thanks for posting on this important topic! One thing I think the reporting member in your OP neglects to consider is that commandments are not absolutes. There are scenarios where breaking one commandment is morally correct and necessary in order to obey other commandments or to ensure basic rights for yourself and your family. Many people coming to the US without authorization have chosen to break a law (which, as you point out, is a lesser civil offense that has historically been enforced sporadically and selectively) in order to meet a higher moral imperative (which may be, for example, feeding and providing for family, protecting themselves and others from imminent danger). No one should substitute their own calculation of competing moral imperatives for someone else’s.

    Also, while I think it’s easy to figure out what members obligations are toward undocumented members, there are tougher questions for how the church deals with undocumented members. While serving as a bishop, I wondered what kind of assistance the church can legally give undocumented members. Housing assistance? Assistance in finding a job? Assistance with basic necessities while the members save up money to bring other family members into the U.S. illegally?

    There is a federal law (also loosely and inconsistently enforced) that prohibits concealing, harboring, or shielding from detection undocumented individuals in any place, including any building or any means of transportation. I never inquired as to members’ legal status when considering welfare assistance and I have never heard of bishops doing this. But one could argue that the law prevents churches from providing housing assistance to undocumented people. There is a carve-out for missionaries and ministers, but not for church welfare recipients. I can’t imagine the federal government enforcing this law against churches, but there are a lot of things unimaginable things coming from the executive branch relating to immigration these days.