Friday, March 06, 2009

The LDS Church and Immigration (part 2)

I have been receiving queries concerning the LDS Church's position on illegal immigration, as a result of testimony by a witness, apparently using his Church credentials to lend credibility to his testimony, at the Senate Hearing on SB113 (Bill to delay implementation of SB 81) Transcript of that testimony below.
(Incidentally, I fully favor implementing SB 81 as soon as feasible)

Here is an update of a previous post on the LDS Church on the issue. I am neither a general authority, nor an official spokesman; I could cite my ecclesiastical experience but I choose not to, as I personally feel it inappropriate to give the impression that I am a spokesman for the church, merely a member.

I believe, the LDS Church has officially taken NO POSITION on illegal immigration.
To wit:
  • From the 2004 DNews article "LDS Church spokesman George Monsivais said, reading from a prepared statement at a Thursday morning press conference. The church repeats its oft-stated caution to members that they should never infer that the church endorses their personal political positions."
  • In an official 2006 LDS Church Press Release, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has over a million members in Mexico. It does not encourage them to move to Utah or anywhere else. The Church, in fact, has made no comment so far on the immigration debate, recognizing that this complex question is now before Congress and is already being thoroughly aired in the public square."
  • In a more recent DNews article, 2008, (Elder Marlin K.) "Jensen said the LDS church has taken no position on any particular measure on the federal or state level." "The current debate in our state Legislature is evidence of the very strong feelings that surround this issue," Jensen said. He noted that LDS leaders had recently issued a "very sincere plea" to lawmakers to consider the issue with humanity and compassion."

Public Hearings on Utah Senate Bill 113 3/2/2009 4:10 pm An effort to delay enforcement of Senate Bill 81, passed in 2008 and set to take effect in July of 2009. SB81 was tailored after an Oklahoma bill designed to crack down on illegal aliens.
Comments from Kevin Taylor of the LDS Church

My name is Kevin Taylor. I am a trustee for the Liahona Self-reliance Foundation, which is organized in concert with the LDS Church's Salt Lake City Inner City Project which serves the Spanish branches in the Salt Lake valley. I'm also the Administrator of the OP Program of the LDS Church's Perpetual Education Fund.
In this capacity as a Service Missionary in the Inner City Project I have the opportunity to work with the 66 Branches and Wards of Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking members throughout the valley.
I'm here to speak in favor of SB113 which delays SB81. In my view and in my experience I believe that SB81 essentially constitutes what I would call tweaking of the law where there really is a need for comprehensive reform of immigration.
I'm especially concerned about the deputization of local law enforcement officers to act as immigration agents. I fear for the impact, not just on that community, but for the safety of all of us. I believe that not just the Hispanic population is affected, but all of us are as this group of people are dissuaded from cooperating with the police in criminal investigations as has been indicated earlier.
I'm very concerned that the people who are here who are out of status for various reasons are here for the purposes of family reunification, economic survival, and they are here really expressing gratitude for the law. It is sort of a dilemma, that they really are in favor of the law of the land here because where they come from they don't have the benefit of the law.
And it's a concern to me that where these people often come from countries where they cannot trust local law enforcement we would take action that would create the same situation here where they would not feel it appropriate in their own interest to communicate and cooperate with law enforcement in trying to solve serious violent crimes.
I'm also concerned about the fiscal amount and I think our money would be much better used in service of investigating and prosecuting violent crime and not to make life harder for the people that we serve.
Thank you.