Immigration: The Church Speaks

June 13, 2011 Posted by zachary

This past Friday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement on immigration law. They clarify the position they took recently in Utah and made it more general for application in other states and federally.

I want to look at a few key points and expound upon them.

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.

As members of the church, we are bound to obey the laws of the land as outlined in the Twelfth Article of Faith. However, we still hold the right to change laws we consider unjust or over broad. Often, this requires people to deliberately disobey them. I would think that in the case of immigration law, there is some room for civil disobedience.

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

Here, the Church is clearly coming out against laws such as those passed in Arizona and Oklahoma that would make it simple to profile and specifically target those of a Hispanic heritage. These laws are wrong on many levels. Mainly, they treat those of Hispanic heritage differently than those of Asian, European or African descent. Secondly, it adds an undue burden on those Hispanics who are either citizens or here legally to prove they are legal residents or citizens. Thus treating them differently than other legal residents or citizens.

As those on all sides of the immigration debate in the United States have noted, this issue is one that must ultimately be resolved by the federal government.

This is something I have noted several times in debates over Oklahoma’s recent immigration laws. We will get no where if we attempt to create 50 different laws regulating immigrants. The Constitution gives only the Federal Government authority to regulate the immigration of foreign citizens. The states should not be involved except in lobbying the Federal Government in immigration matters.

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

This squares almost exactly with the Libertarian view on what to do with those who are currently hear illegally.

For those workers already in the United States illegally, we can avoid “amnesty” and still offer a pathway out of the underground economy. Newly legalized workers can be assessed fines and back taxes and serve probation befitting the misdemeanor they’ve committed. They can be required to take their place at the back of the line should they eventually apply for permanent residency. (Issues: Immigration)

It is almost impossible to fix the current illegal immigration problems without actually changing the laws. If we have 12 million people breaking the law, is that a problem with the people or with the law itself? That is the question that many people in the immigration debate gloss over or ignore entirely.

I would hope that as more Latter-day Saints, and other US citizens, accept the views on immigration expressed in this press release, we will come to real reform in this nation.

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