The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has issued a new statement on immigration, apparently replacing, or supplanting, a previous statement.
With a vote on repealing Utah's proposed Guest Worker Program coming shortly at the State Republican Convention, the timing is interesting.
Each and every church, of course, has a right to express and opinion, as do individuals. It is also appropriate for everyone to make their own decision based on their principles, beliefs, understanding and knowledge.
This statement can be construed in many ways, especially for those opposing a Utah Guest Worker program.
While the statement, "the federal government of the United States should secure its borders and sharply reduce or eliminate the flow of undocumented immigrants. Unchecked and unregulated, such a flow may destabilize society and ultimately become unsustainable." will find few in disagreement, others may be more 'controversial.'
As in the Utah Compact, the statement declares: "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."
Again, another noncontroversial statement, other statements seem more subject to interpretation:
For example, "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."
Personally, I have seen nothing in the policies and stance in the movement to eliminate the Utah Guest worker Program that targets any group - unless that group is 'undocumented immigrants.' I know of very few that are targeting "one heritage." I know of far fewer (none) in favor of "mass expulsion or mistreatment of individuals or families."
If a particular heritage is the predominant portion of 'undocumented immigrants,' perhaps the question needs to be asked "why?" Further, why should one "heritage" be exempt from obeying the law? (If that is what is being suggested.)
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God."
I believe I can treat everyone as a child of God and still expect them to abide by laws and live by a standard of respect for those laws and I suspect most people can do the same.
The package of Utah's recently passed 'comprehensive' laws did contain other proposal in addition to enforcement (HB 497) by attempting alleviate some of the problems with current immigration laws with HB 466 an HB 469. A summary of the bills can be found here.
"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."
I can support this idea and my understanding is that there are legal ways for illegal aliens to do so; go through the proper procedures to obtain a visa. It is possible to return to their home country and complete the process. It may take time, but most good things do - and it will be worth the effort. Remaining in one's homeland is another principle that the church has long taught.
From a companion statement, we are admonished to be less judgmental. As a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I agree that most people may need to be less judgmental and I am satisfied that the Church reiterated the idea that "Bishops are in the best position to make appropriate judgments as to Church privileges."
I hope and trust that most Church leaders and members will give due consideration to the completeness and entirety of the restored Gospel in making these decisions.