LDS Church Leader Urges Caution on Immigration

It appears that the LDS Church is slowly unveiling its position on Illegal Immigration and it appears to somewhat break from the common GOP consensus.  Which consensus, I should explain, is also firmer than mine.  It seems that most GOPers (especially the average voter) is pretty hardcore in their view of illegal immigration; generally they feel that ALL illegal immigrants should be deported, often without consideration of extenuating circumstances. 

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time now, may remember that I broke with this common view in a piece I wrote last year.   Basically, I think deporting 12 million people is utterly ridiculous, it is an economic and logistical nightmare.  Additionally, we need to consider the impact such a move (deportation) would have on families, especially children born in the U.S. who are now citizens.

Yesterday, LDS Church historian and seventy, Marlin K. Jensen, urged that Utah’s legislature (practically all Mormon) “slow down, step back and carefully study and assess the implications and human costs involved” when confronting the issue of illegal immigration.  He added that such decisions have “significant consequences, (and) I believe a more thoughtful . . . not to mention humane, approach is warranted.” 

I couldn’t agree more.  We need to consider the human implication. 

It is important to point out that Elder Jensen is not advocating one way or another any specific legislation or even point of view regarding illegal immigration.  He is simply urging reflection and serious, realistic contemplation on the impact of various possibilities.  This is a wise course of action. 

I fear that people are so embroiled with emotion regarding this issue, that is clouds sound judgement and realistic/pragmatic thought.   Many right wingers, especially, are verging on pure racism and starting to even allow their hatred for illegal immigration with criticism of all immigration.   This is a dangerous trend.

The best antidote for such irrational movement is simply to take a deep breath, pull back from the problem, and move cautiously; all the while utilizing deliberate and realistic thought and analysis.

For the Church it will be interesting to see what kind of response is received.  There are going to be huge swaths of LDS members, especially throughout AZ, CA, and the rest of the Southwest that are going to be annoyed at best by this, others will likely be outraged.   But I urge all of you who may be upset by this move to remember the role of religion.  Religions in general (should) focus on individuals, not governments.  Thus, the LDS Church is concerned about the impact such legislation will have on individuals, and this includes illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, even all U.S. citizens.   Rational and pragmatic thought, even stepping away from the issue to get an overall view, is nearly always the wisest course.  When we move to fast and are swayed by the emotional upswell of public opinion we more often than not make poor decisions that have more dire effects in the long run.

UPDATE: Further down in the SL Trib article I read the following bit and think it is essential to add to this piece.: “Jensen noted that immigration was not strictly a political issue but a moral and ethical one. And as such, he said, he was not simply speaking for himself or even for the Quorum, a group of Mormon leaders who act as church emissaries. ‘I was assigned to come here by the First Presidency of the Church.’


Filed under Christian, Christianity, Election 2008, Illegal immigration, Immigration, LDS, Mormon, Mormonism, People, Politics, Race, Religion, Republicans

6 responses to “LDS Church Leader Urges Caution on Immigration

  1. Jay

    Jensen said: ‘I was assigned to come here by the First Presidency of the Church.

    This is somewhat troubling to me that the Church would send someone to “speak to” Utah’s legislature. I don’t think the people that want to prevent legal immigration are very numerous. I would be surprised if many state representatives held this view. It is obvious though that U.S. citizens want illegal immigration to end. I imagine the Church is urging for compassion because the issue affects its members with illegal status. I found out about 5 years ago that the LDS Church does knowingly baptize illegals and does not reveal their status to U.S. authorities.

    As a member I’m not sure what to think about that. Illegal immigrants are Children of God, but how can you start your new life as an LDS member while committing a felony? Is that OK or is it one of those sins like speeding or walking on the grass?

    What specifically prompted this action from the Church? Was there something that the state legislature said or did that was not compassionate?

  2. I am really happy that the church has made this statement. The public discussion on this subject has become very ugly and prejudicial in my opinion. And, I couldn’t agree with many of the points you’ve made here.

    I am so sorry that President Bush’s plan for a guest worker program has not become a reality. These people who want to deport 12 million illegal immigrants don’t seem to know how devastating that would be to our economy. Benjamin Franklin understood from the beginning that our wealth as a nation was not in our gold and silver, but our collective industry to which illegal immigrants and immigrants in general contibute greatly.

    Jay needs to know that border crossing is actually a misdemeanor and more like speeding than he thinks.

  3. I meant to say.. I couldn’t agree more. 🙂 sorry.

  4. Suzanne

    I am LDS and have thought long and hard about the problem of immigration, and especially illegal immigration. I am not forming my opinions on emotion but on facts and love of country as well as people. I understand that children brought in illegally by parents are not culpable if they were minors when they came.

    Probably 75% of the world is poorer than America’s poorest. Americans have huge hearts; we want to help people by nature. But it is mathematically impossible to help everyone who wants to emigrate here. Our country would buckle and disintegrate under the weight. That’s why the Church started the Perpetual Education Fund. Pres. Hinckley understood that people need to be lifted up where they live.

    The 12th Article of Faith is still in force. In order to be compassionate, this nation needs to have secure borders and a system that takes away the job magnets. We should change the law to prevent a baby born here (with an illegal mother) from getting automatic US citizenship. When all of that is done, we can look, on a case-by-case basis, at those who are not legal and want to stay.

    I do not think that the First Presidency is advocating that non-Americans break our laws and come in illegally. That makes no sense.

  5. Jay

    It is my understanding that illegal entry is a misdemeanor and, if repeated, becomes punishable as a felony. So you are right in the sense that illegals who have only crossed the border once are not felons, but simply breaking a law. Unfortunately, most Americans think it is much more serious than a speeding ticket.

    I’m honestly not sure how the problem should be handled. We have tried amnesty before and it didn’t work. If we do it again it will have to be by first strengthening our borders so we don’t find ourselves chasing our tails again.

  6. patriot

    The LDS Church contradicts its own 12th Article of Faith.

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