On 10 June 2011, the LDS Church released an official statement on immigration that calls for Latter-day Saints and others to honor families and treat each other, foremost, as children of God while at the same time calling for the federal government to provide strong border security and discouraging its own members from entering any country illegally. It also expresses strong concern for the nearly twelve million people who are already in the United States illegally, urging lawmakers and citizens to strive to keep families together and work toward these people being able to “square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship.”
Official statements call for robust discussion, and this episode tries to provide just that through engaging not only the statement but also the human face of this issue and marriage of religion and politics that is often so prevalent in policy debates related to this issue. And it even ends with the episode’s panelists—Brent Beal, a business professor in Texas who for many years has served in LDS branches containing many undocumented church members, Ben Daniel, a Presbyterian minister in northern California who likewise ministers to many people here illegally and who recently wrote a book, Neighbor: Christian Encounters with “Illegal” Immigration, and Mark Alvarez, a Salt Lake City attorney, radio host, and advocate for smart immigration reform—sharing their ideas for better discussions and improved policies.
After listening, we hope you will share your ideas in the discussion below! We also extend a special invitation to contribute to the disccuion to those who advocate positions that differ from those of the panelists. If you favor a hardline approach to illegal immigration, support enforcement-only legislative approaches increased deportations, etc., we would love to engage with you, especially on the intersection between your political positions with your religious views.
HOST’S NOTE: In the months, weeks, and days leading up this Mormon Matters episode, I was blessed to be able to speak with many people about the immigration issue and various different framings for this podcast discussion, as well as possible panelists. All were gracious with their time, all made great suggestions, AND THEN I FORGOT TO THANK THEM DURING THE EPISODE! I know it’s not as fun to be mentioned only here, and I’m very sorry, but thank you, thank you Jason Echols, Ryan Cragun, David Knowlton, David King Landreth, Jana Riess, and Joanna Brooks!
How can our overreaching government allow Mexico or any other
the State of Georgia, even though predominant Mexican illegal immigrant
citizens are ignoring our sovereignty laws? This is a farce, of our
constitutional rights, when the Obama administration as part of the
zealots, allowing this humiliation on the majority of American people.
laws are being implemented in States, thus Arizona Alabama; if Georgia
to save the welfare money and public services from being drained by
nationals? We can only save America from these abhorrent undertakings
meddling from Special Interest groups, by making Barack Obama a
one-term president and throwing out his growing leftist policies. In
cases, that includes to some degree Republicans have ignored the laws
down to us in the US Constitution. Our rights are dwindling away under
this administration. Emerging from the Republican Party is the TEA
are millions of average Americans of every color and religion, joining
national fight against Activist judges and the dark side of the Liberal
NOW THOSE ON THE WHITE HOUSE ARE JUSTIFYING OFFERING LENIENCY,
IN A DE FACTO AMNESTY FOR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
This is now the perfect time to insist on mandated policing laws.
are offering this action of using E-Verify and Secure Communities, for
reduction of illegal aliens amongst us? Already upheld by the Supreme
both federal applications can start to track foreigners, who are
and Secure communities to identify all criminal aliens once they are in
of the local police. We must also stand with Georgia and Arizona who
enacted enforcement laws, sadly being reduced by the Obama’s leftist
colleagues. Georgia, not the richest State is overrun by foreigners,
illegally settled there and are involved in bleeding their public
is it so different for Georgia to check the immigration status of
I have been stopped countless times and asked for my vehicle
driving license? Why is this federal case, when all it is about
being “politically Correct” that has become a virulent policy, which
we are, forced to conform too. Anything to pin on the moderates as
racial profiling case and denying the people , to follow the “Rule of
Law” not the made up stuff, played on us by Leftist
judges making up their own States statutes or federal interpretations,
courts such as the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.
Another issue that needs to be explained is our government
activist groups, who wish to see the demise of America, by overrunning
nation without a shot. There whole idea is a swarming mechanism,
bringing in as
many foreign nationals from South of the border with impunity. Taxpayer
fortunately being alerted, that they are forced by federal law, to
to illegal aliens for low income housing, child care, free health
education for all their millions of children. We are like moths to a
flame drawing into America, the rejected from foreign governments. Yet
Americans and those here legally, don’t have the availability of free
care, as the debt collectors and credit laws, but chase us down like
pay Even while Americans are desperately trying to consolidate a home
loans, refinance vehicles, illegal aliens collect welfare money, food
and in some States unemployment benefits. Every day more poverty finds
through our mostly vulnerable border, while companies are sealing our
moving overseas or across our border, outsourcing jobs in other lands?
WE MIGHT BE A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS, BUT WE ARE ALSO A NATION OF
BENEVOLENT FOOLS. HAVE WE NOT LEARNED OUR LESSON YET? ARE WE
TO TOLERATE OBAMA’S LIBERALS IN GOVERNMENT, DEMANDING WE OUTLAY 2.5
TO ENACT ANOTHER MASS AMNESTY NIGHTMARE. ONLY THE TEA PARTY LEADERSHIP
A reflection of our insanity is the statement of NumbersUSA website,
according to Judicial Watch, federal funding for the radical
Council of La Raza has doubled in the years since Pres. Barack Obama
former NCLR Vice President Cecilia Munoz as White House Director of
Affairs. Since joining the Administration in 2009, La Raza’s funding
increased from $4 million to $11.1 million, mostly coming from the
Department headed by former California Congresswoman and amnesty
Hilda Solis. As a Congresswoman, Hilda Solis regularly teamed up with
for nationwide initiatives. “It is distressing to know that the
special-interest advocacy of this open-borders group operates with
dollars from taxpayers while the public-interest advocacy groups like
NumbersUSA don’t get a penny from the government to fight for taxpayers
workers of all ethnicities,” said NumbersUSA President Roy Beck.
“Instead, we rely on the personal, voluntary contributions of taxpayers
fight the open-borders agenda of these groups like La Raza which all
are coerced to support through their taxes.”
Judicial Watch also noted that the National Council of La Raza
only organization to gain with Munoz’s appointment. An offshoot of La
Chicanos Por La Causa, has also received an increase in funding,
$18.3 million since Munoz’s appointment. La Raza uses funding from the
government and other sources to provide social services, housing
farm worker assistance to the Latino community. But they also spend a
chunk of money lobbying Congress for amnesty and protections for
aliens. While federal funding is not likely used for lobbying, it frees
other funds raised for lobbying efforts.
According to OpenSecrets.org, the La Raza has spent more than $500,000 per year in lobbying each every year
Hasn’t the people had enough of these venomous lies spread by
every day, or the open border lobbyists pleading for compassion and
at the same time. Many of our own people are living in poverty, so we
more Immigration Reform bills, Sanctuary city laws? In the election of
will be jobs and the economy, but illegal immigration will be forcing
to the surface and the issue will not be tucked under the rug. This
will be a
crucial vote for all Americans and legal residents not matter your
party or ethnic background. The TEA PARTY is producing huge waves of
in both parties, because they ready to fight for every birthright
potential new American. They will not cave-in to either party, but will
all those against the silent invasion of illegal aliens. The TEA PARTY
reign in the radical organizations like La Raza, and will repudiate any
of another Amnesty.
Nice forwarded email. Bravo.
If you can’t even be bothered to reformat your copy and pasted comment, maybe don’t comment next time.
At the 24 minute mark, there was a suggestion that our immigration laws used to be racist, but no longer. That isn’t the case. U.S. immigration law still treats a Mexican differently than it does a person from England or Sweden, or France. In fact, at no point in U.S. history have we had a race-neutral immigration system (other than the first 106 years when we had an open-border policy). Unsurprisingly, people of color have always been excluded, and “white” people have never been systematically excluded.
Not finished listening yet but just wanted to chime in with congrats to MM for assembling this panel. Have fun fielding comments on this topic. 😉
At the 41 minute mark, there was a great summary of the economic impact in terms of substitutes and compliments. It should be noted that the economic models predict this benefit for host countries (like the U.S.), and that real-world case studies actually outperform those predictions. Even those direct substitutes where the economic impact is expected to be the harshest (as mentioned at the 47 minute mark), have felt an economic benefit as a result of undocumented immigration.
Responding to the comment about respect for law (53 minute mark), and assuming that is a reference to the 12th Article of Faith, I have a theory I’d like a legal historian to respond to (if we have one reading). When Joseph Smith wrote this, Legal Positivism hadn’t been well articulated, let alone well established. The 12th Article of Faith sounds much more like a statement in the tradition of Natural Law.
Thank you, thank you! “Mr. Obama, Tear down this wall!” I was intimately involved in the fight against the border wall. We had a few successes (at UTB, for instance), and many losses (at Eloisa Tamez’ house and almost everywhere else too). The Dep’t of Homeland Security has since studied its effects and have found it to have zero operational effect. For those of us living RIGHT ON the border, we all hate it. And if it has no effect, then who in Iowa or Provo has a right to tell us what our hometowns have to look like.
Great podcast. Even though there was not really a conservative viewpoint represented, I love that you are getting voices from outside of mormonism to chime in on these topics, Dan!
One point that you missed in brainstorming Mormon scripture that could be construed as pro-law and possibly anti-(illegal) immigrant is the scripture in D&C that says that a person who obeys the laws of God has no need to break the laws of the land. I know a lot of early church member behavior flies in the face of that proclamation, but I know conservatives today would use that scripture as a way of arguing against being lenient toward those who are here illegally.
One thing I wish you could have touched on, or maybe will touch on in a future podcast is how the church’s statement is at odds with the values of some staunch conservatives. I would love to hear a representation of how these people come to terms with their disagreement with the church’s stance. It would honestly have the possibility of building a bridge between conservatives who differ with church positions, and liberals who have questioned things like Prop. 8. Well, maybe not, but you never know! 🙂
Terrific, Michael! Thanks! Interesting bit of scripture that I appreciate having you add into the mix. And your final point about seeing conservatives wrestle with being out of step with Church positions and, in this way, experiencing what social liberals often face is awesome. Here’s to hoping that it might lead to bridge building between those on opposite ends of the spectrum. Even if not that exact result, however, I believe it’s healthy to someone’s maturing faith to have to face head on the challenge of coming to really know his or her own mind on issues rather than echoing the voices of others who he or she has considered authoritative. If being out of step with an official position with the church is the trigger for reflection of this type, I think that’s to potential great benefit.
I’m disappointed to see that three days after the podcast was posted, there are only four comments (other than my own), and that the majority of them simply use undocumented immigrants as a means to an end. To add to Ben’s point, they don’t just silently pick our vegetables as dehumanized economic functions, but they silently (there are 11 million undocumented immigrants, but none were on the panel) “build bridges” between Mormons “squirming” over Prop 8 and Mormons “squirming” over the June 10 statement. The bridge might connect Mormons “triggered” to a “maturing faith,” in the sense that they are less pleased with the Church hierarchy, but leaves the homophobia and xenophobia of the two groups intact. Worse still, it leaves the undocumented immigrant not only out of the conversation, but outside the bounds of the law, in the rhetorical and legal space they currently occupy. That isn’t my idea of progress.
So… what would be progress?? Well, for starters, someone could take up the subject for what it is, not for what it might mean for those least affected. Or is it too marginalizing to defend undocumented immigrants? Did we all spend all our social capital opposing Prop 8, so that we cannot afford to be further ostracized? And was Jose Antonio Vargas representative of us too when he said: “Tough as it was, coming out about being gay seemed less daunting than coming out about my legal status.” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/magazine/my-life-as-an-undocumented-immigrant.html?_r=1
Check these out:
Helaman 6 : 7-9
2 Nephi 1 : 5-7
I love to see the conservatives squirm when the church that they love and support comes out with a statement that they don’t agree with politically. Welcome to the world of the Liberal Mormon! It will be facinating to watch this play out from a Mormon perspective. What will they say when they start to haul away good, strong Hispanic members of the church?
Much of the political debate concerning immigration tends to dehumanize the immigrant. I hope this article might be helpful to the discussion: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/51849614-82/immigration-reform-undocumented-law.html.csp
John Moore, What can you tell us, more, about how those from Mexico are not treated equally with those from England and France?
John Jackson, There are too many examples (of where our immigration laws treat similarly situated applicants differently based on their country of origin) to mention them all, but the largest example is the nationality cap described in INA § 202(a)(2). Unlike many other examples, this one is not facially discriminatory, but has a huge discriminatory impact. That impact can be seen here: http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5489.html
Sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (three different visa categories) applying for an immigrant visa will have to wait 11 years longer if s/he is from Mexico than if s/he is from England or France. This pushes the wait time from 7 or 8 years (depending on the visa category) to 18 or 19 years. Yes, thousands upon thousands of Mexicans who are sons and daughters of U.S. citizens are currently waiting for a visa, some for almost 20 years.
But INA § 202(a)(2) is only one example. There are really too many to mention. We have laws that only apply to Cubans, and others that only apply to those from Singapore., etc.
Other than the racism point, another take away is that immigration law is extremely complex. Any reference to “illegal immigrant” is simply too imprecise to have any legal meaning. Even “undocumented worker” is imprecise. Perhaps it refers to someone who has no I-9, or has a fraudulent I-9, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the worker doesn’t have a legal right to remain in the country or even to citizenship (even if the worker payed a coyote to be smuggled into the country). Such a person may be fleeing persecution and may have a legal claim to asylum. Or s/he could be a U.S. citizen and not even know it.
The Church recently released a less-well-covered statement urging its members to refrain from judgment based on immigration status or perceived immigration status. This, to me, is very wise, given our limited knowledge. Nearly every judgment about immigration status that is made by anyone but an immigration judge will be an unrighteous judgment because it is almost certainly being made without an understanding of the law and the facts.
If the purpose is to further the discussion as Dan often says, then this podcast did nothing to further the discussion in my opinion. It was partisan discussion. The guests continually used terms like anti-immigrant over and over again. I dont know a single person who is anti-immigrant. the US has thousands and thousands of legal immigrants every year. The issue is ILLEGAL immigration. So why keep referring to the other side as anti-immigrant? I am all for immigration, legal immigration. And how can you make progress on this topic without discussion of securing the boarder. I heard nothing about this. There was much discussion of 12 million undocumented immigrants here illegally but nothing of the millions who are waiting to come here through legal channels.
KC, You are not anti-immigrant, nor are so many others who would not ease the laws on immigration. But, truth be told, we make it so hard for them to come to America, that much immigration is, in essence, illegal. They need maybe $5,000 to buy our paperwork (work visa) and many do not have that. Surely you might see you would not pursue a job if you had to pay $,5000 upfront to get it. And, many of them are poor. Our immigration law is so complicated, they often need a lawyer. Do we really want to take a person who just wants to come to America to work, and require him to hire a lawyer? They need jobs now, yet immigration can take years. Yes, there are many who come here through legal channels, but the question is whether we have burdensome, uncaring laws. If so, of course we should change them. There is nothing wrong with wanting to help another person, including people who want to come to America and currently cannot.. I would borrow words from Paul McCartney. “Someone’s knocking at the door. Someone’s ringing the bell. Do me a favor, and open the door, and let ’em in.”