Illegal Brothers and Sisters

November 30, 2005 | 246 comments

The Church, it appears, has a self-interested interest in one aspect of the debate over illegal immigration. Reading between the lines, I”m figuring that the church is worried that sometimes our Temple Square misssionaries, etc., might actually be here for longer than their visas are for. I’m must speculating, of course, but I have reason to believe that in at least one foreign country American missionaries are almost all violating the letter of their visas.

The interesting thing about all this, for me, is the memories it brings back. I’ve done a lot of churchwork in the kitchens of people who I was morally certain were in the country illegally. A time or two I was asked to help them stay illegally in one minor way or another, but I refused. But I otherwise treated them like what they were–brothers and sisters. I gave them advice, friendship, food, rides, toys for their children, etc. I certainly never contemplated turning them in.

Now you may think that’s no great thing. But. But. I’m strongly opposed to illegal immigration. I’m no great fan of immigration of any sort, but illegal immigration really riles me. If this country starting cracking down on it, I’d cheer. And likely as not, in a particular kind of duty-mood, I might report it if I discovered some illegals. I’d feel sick about it, but I’d probably do it. I would not–I”m certain of this–turn in people I met through church. Why?

Now, feel free to have a debate about the merits of immigration; if you want to bore us with the kind of overheated, lightless debate you could have on a thousand secular blogs, be my guest. I have trial tomorrow so I won’t be around to stop you.

But why do it? Discussing why a law-abiding Church might do what its doing–or why an anti-illegal immigrant guy like myself might support what the church is doing and not have any animus against illegal brothers and sisters–that could be interesting.

[Special Thanks to a brotherly reader who sent me the article]

246 Responses to Illegal Brothers and Sisters

  1. A Nonny Mouse on November 30, 2005 at 2:04 am

    Personally, I’ve seen the strength of the church, in this country and others, when it’s built on the back of our incredibly strong Latin-American brothers and sisters, many of whom are in this, and other countries, illegaly. The church couldn’t survive as well in some places without they’re unusually strong testimonies. I think the strength that these potentially “illegal” brothers and sisters lend to the church is alone worth the type of loop-hole this law would provide.

    I personally would have a hard time turning in a member of the church for such a thing because to me, it seems more like an offense on the order of “driving without a license.” Elder Oaks gave a great talk a while back about the difference between morally wrong sins and legally wrong transgressions, talking about the fruit and the garden of Eden and all that stuff and talked about how some things are wrong because they’re morally reprehensible and other things are wrong because they’re against the rules, not because there is anything intrinsically evil about them. I think for me immigration is one of those things, and that’s why I wouldn’t turn somebody in for it.

  2. Tim J. on November 30, 2005 at 2:10 am

    Difficult subject. I work for a Hispanic newspaper and have struggled with this as well. Politically, I am all for a closed border/illegal-immigration, though I’ve come to learn it’s not as black and white as its made out to be.

    Recently a Guatemalan man was deported after seeking refuge here during the civil war there. He has a wife and a couple of kids, runs a business, and was active in the community. It just seems like a waste.

    In the MTC, my companion was headed to the Tucson, Arizona mission. In one discussion, the question was raised about what to do about illegal immigrants concerning baptism. The response was that of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” sort, and to baptize them regardless.

  3. Adam Greenwood on November 30, 2005 at 2:23 am

    I’m betting, though, Mr. Mouse, that the point of Elder Oaks talk wasn’t that we only have an obligation to enforce those laws that cover morally wrong sins. Also, it gets hard to sort out. I think its pretty clear in our revelations, and would be even if the revelations were silent, that morality requires you to obey some laws that aren’t themselves instantiations of a moral code (like having a license to drive).

  4. Justin H on November 30, 2005 at 2:23 am

    As per Tim J’s MTC companion’s experience, more than half of the saints I taught and baptized during my Spanish-speaking mission in LA were in the US illegally.

    I’m not sure why I feel this way (that is, my answer is probably not rational) but I can only imagine only a very few situations where I’d report someone to the INS, whether they were a church member or not.

  5. El Jefe on November 30, 2005 at 6:48 am

    Let’s be very clear about this. To be in the country illegally is a misdemeanor. (If you are deported and then return illegally, it is a felony).

    So, if you are prepared to go to court and certify that you saw your neighbor speeding, then by all means, turn them in. And as far as I know, the usual questions about upholding the law are never extended to cover misdemeanors like speeding, although we all recognize that we are technically breaking the law..

  6. danithew on November 30, 2005 at 7:25 am

    I served my mission in Guatemala and spent six months of that time in Esquipulas, which happens to border both El Salvador and Honduras. Many of the people who were heading northwards from these countries were going through Esquipulas and I would sometimes sit next to them on a bus as I traveled around. I especially remember one of them showing me some wadded up dollars he had in his sock as he made his way to the United States.

    I sympathize with these people. I observed how many men were working for a few dollars a day — often back-breaking work in a farm field of some sort with a machete or other type of tool. As I watched this I thought to myself, that if I were in that situation, I would do my best to migrate into the United States as well.

    At the same time, I think the United States interest is to find ways to prevent illegals from entering and creating an ordered process for admitting people into the country. These post 9-11 days, this is a critical question of security.

    I think we should fortify and protect our borders. And at the same time I think we should create a sensible and sensitive means to admit those who wish to come here to work and improve their lives. This is the same incentive that brought so many of our ancestors here to this same country.

  7. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 8:55 am

    Thank you for your thoughtful remarks danithew. We do need to fortify our borders and maintain effective control over the stream of immigration across our borders, but we also need to take care not to castigate those who are simply seeking a better life. Throwing around the term “illegal” too cavelierly is often just an easy way of dismissing people who in the larger sense are our brothers and sisters. I’m unsure how “legal” the Saints settlement of Utah and much of the west was in the eyes of the Mexican government. It’s important to remember that we all qualify as immigrants in one way or another, so being against “immigration” generally doesn’t make much sense.

  8. J Alfred on November 30, 2005 at 9:01 am

    My reading of D&C 134:8 seems to indicate an obligation on Church members to report illegal activity (which would include illegal immigration) to the authorities.

  9. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 9:25 am

    Apparently John Taylor & Co. missed that interpretation while they were on the Mormon underground in the 1880′s.

  10. Elisabeth on November 30, 2005 at 9:29 am

    Seems to me that we should be working with our “illegal” brothers and sisters to change the procrustean laws that serve little purpose than to fuel anti-foreigner sentiment and separate family members, instead of condemning people who are now standing in the shoes of our ancestors’ seeking a better life in America.

    The immigration laws in the U.S. are riddled with loopholes for the wealthy, and are inherently unfair (how’s that for a reasoned legal argument?).

    “One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” MLK, Jr.

  11. Wilfried on November 30, 2005 at 9:30 am

    Very interesting topic. It seems the Church’s standpoint has much to do with the growing Latino population in Utah. There are probably many undocumented members now in leadership positions in various Spanish-speaking wards in Utah. This article throws some more light on the Church position. I thought it was interesting to realize that Brigham Young and all the 1847-pioneers settled in Utah as illegal immigrants in what was then Mexico…

  12. maria on November 30, 2005 at 10:23 am

    In my Spanish-speaking mission in California, 100% of the people I taught/saw baptized were illegal immigrants. Two of the branch presidents, and one bishop, to my knowledge, were also illegal immmigrants. Once, when a visiting general authority spoke to us at mission conference (I’m pretty sure it was Elder Bradford, but I’m not positive on the name) one of the missionaries posed the question as to how we should handle the immigration issue. He kind of look annoyed at the missionary and said (I’m paraphrasing here): “Just because a man chooses to come to the United States so that he can provide a better life for himself and his family does not mean that we should deny him the blessings of the restored gospel. Your responsibility is to teach the gospel to the people, not pretend you are the INS.”

  13. Bill on November 30, 2005 at 10:30 am

    This is the first time I’ve heard of a self-interested interest.

  14. maria on November 30, 2005 at 10:40 am

    Sociological research in the last 10 years shows that the vast majority of Mexican immigrants who come to the U.S. do so in order to *survive.* In other words, their primary motivation in crossing the border illegally is so that THEY CAN EAT or so THEIR CHILDREN CAN EAT. Most of them would much rather stay in their villages and towns with their own families, traditions, and cultures than be stuck living in SoCal is some slum apartment with 10 other men, working in the fields all day long, having “Christian” people across the land hating their very existence. Put yourself in their shoes: would you ever leave your home and your family to go live in a foreign country to perform essentially slave labor unless you ABSOLUTELY HAD TO? I doubt it.

  15. Tim J. on November 30, 2005 at 10:57 am


    “I’m pretty sure it was Elder Bradford, but I’m not positive on the name.” Shivers went down my spine. Please don’t mention that name agian.

    “In other words, their primary motivation in crossing the border illegally is so that THEY CAN EAT or so THEIR CHILDREN CAN EAT.”

    I don’t know about this. The ones that I saw leave Guatemala and tried to go mojado to the U.S., left their wife and kids behind. It also seemed that they weren’t suffering as much as others when it came to poverty and starvation, in fact some were fairly well-off in a third world country sort of way. I don’t want to call it greed, but the ones I saw leave didn’t seem to have the motivation you mentioned.

    That being said, the Hispanic communities in which I work are fantastic. They are a hard-working, family oriented, good people. Crime is low in these areas (even though it lies in the inner-city), and Hispanic businesses thrive. I have no problem with people wanting a better life, but it probably needs to regulated a little better.

  16. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 11:05 am

    “Shivers went down my spine. Please don’t mention that name again.” ???

  17. greenfrog on November 30, 2005 at 11:19 am

    Like Tim H and maria, I served a Spanish-speaking mission in California. I have no reason to believe that any of the people I taught and baptized had proper documentation.

    To respond to Adam Greenwood’s direct questions: …why a law-abiding Church might do what its doing…

    I haven’t looked at the particular statutory text, but given the wide variety of associations that members of the Church have with the Church itself (ranging from strictly volunteer association to branch/ward callings to Church-filtered/funded full-time missionary work), I suspect the Church’s position is nothing more (or less) than an effort to negate application of a law that would otherwise expose the Church to liability, as the Church doesn’t pay any official attention that I’m aware of to one’s documentation status, nor, for all the reasons already proffered, does it have an interest in beginning to do so.

    One other reason to consider, which might cross AG’s proposed line of discussion: It may be that the Church views national immigration restrictions as the literal erection of artificial barriers to entry designed to preserve to one group economic rents at the expense of another group. In that light, it’s hard to see why the Church should do other than find ways to reduce the effect of such laws.

    As to the remainder of Adam Greenwood’s question: …why an anti-illegal immigrant guy like myself might support what the church is doing and not have any animus against illegal brothers and sisters…

    Perhaps the Spirit is moving you in a direction that will eventually lead you to abandon altogether your false traditions.

  18. Tim J. on November 30, 2005 at 11:21 am


    He was the Area President in Central America when I served in Guatemala. He was a pretty stern, iron-fisted type of leader. During Hymns in Stake/Distrcit Conferences, he would literally get out of seat, walk over to the chorister and stop the hymn in the middle, and then demand that the congregation sing the hymns faster, the way they were intended to be played/sang.

    He also added so many rules, that if they had become official the “White Bible” would have doubled in size.

    The first mission reunion after I got home, there was a report given by the most recently returned elder on the state of mission. The first thing he said, in front of everybody, including two former mission presidents, was, “Well, in July, President Bradford went home, so everybody was excited about that!” Though my mission president wasn’t overtly happy, I think he was smiling on the inside.

    We can now return to the subject of illegal immigration. Sorry.

  19. greenfrog on November 30, 2005 at 11:27 am

    I was too flippant in my last response, even though I speculate (as I must, since I’m commenting on another’s subjective perceptions and thinking) that it is directionally correct.

    Perhaps a more nuanced version of that is this: when an undocumented immigrant (I won’t use “illegal” in this context any more than I’d use that label to apply to those of you (if any) who exceed the speed limits of the nation) sits next to you in sacrament meeting, you’re more inclined to view her as your sister — part of your clan, your pack, your tribe, your affilated social group. But when the same person is caught in the backroom of a restaurant that you don’t frequent, you’re not so inclined to view her as your sister, or as part of your clan, your pack, your tribe, or your affiliated social group. “We v. They” thinking permeates much of our lives. (I finished the book of Alma this morning, and I can attest that the same kind of thinking permeates those stories, as well.) The parable of the Good Samaritan suggests to us why that thinking is wrong and how to remedy it, but it also highlights how natural and common it is.

    As we overcome that sort of thinking, I hope that we will find not only undocumented immigrants, but also our in-laws, our brothers and sisters in Darfur, the goth punks in the city, and the inmates at the local prison, all to be worthy of our respect, love, and care.

  20. LoneWriter on November 30, 2005 at 11:27 am

    I live in a bilingual ward. This year, we have had 18 baptisms in the ward — 13 of them, Spanish-speaking members. We never ask who is here legally and who is not, even though a member of the ward is an INS agent. (Recently, one of these members asked the bishop for $7,000 to get her younger brother and her daughter out of the hands of “coyotes” in Mexico. It’s a tough world down there.)

    We need a law like is mentioned above — where churches cannot be prosecuted for letting these illegal aliens volunteer. After all, we try to give a calling to each one of these members; without this legal protection, we could not do so.

    The debate about what is legal and what is illegal immigration will go on for many years. Most of our current immigration laws only date from the last 50 years or so. Many of our great-grandparents would be considered “illegal” by today’s standards. My own ancestors came from Holland and Germany in the 1800′s, when people were welcomed to this country.

  21. JrL on November 30, 2005 at 11:33 am

    I doubt that the Church’s interest is the result of missionaries called from other countries to serve on Temple Square or elsewhere. I have no reason to believe that such missionaries couldn’t and wouldn’t get proper visas. The proposal seems specifically targeted to a different group: undocumented aliens already in the U.S. who are called to serve missions in the U.S. It seems to me, given my own experience and that of others who have commented, that such calls would be pretty common.

  22. maria on November 30, 2005 at 11:45 am

    Weren’t the pioneers illegal immigrants when they entered the SL valley?

  23. b bell on November 30, 2005 at 12:02 pm

    #22 I would say no. There were no mexican forts or government offices in the SLC valley in 1847-48

    I am of two minds on this issue. I think that the border does need to be controlled and that immigration laws do need to be enforced.

    That being said the church is not the INS and I have personally helped LDS illegal immigrants get attorneys and get naturalized. Also the bonds of church membership to me are stronger than anything else. The illegal immigrant church member in the pew next to me are my brothers and sisters in the gospel FIRST.

    As far as the temple rec question on honest in your dealings. If I was illegal I would not be able to answer this question honestly. So I would be getting naturalized or get a green card ASAP. You cannot be working with forged documents/fake ID (very common) and be honest in your dealings.

  24. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 12:10 pm

    B Bell… Deseret was claimed Mexican Territory and the Church squatted on the land… we were “illegal” immigrants in that sense. I laugh at the thought of what Brigham Young would have said if Mexico had told him to leave.

  25. maria on November 30, 2005 at 12:11 pm

    Sorry–I didn’t realize Wilfried had already made that point.

  26. Matt Evans on November 30, 2005 at 12:11 pm

    Wilfried and Maria,

    I have never researched this, but I’m doubtful that Mexico had laws prohibitting immigration to their northern territories in 1847. During the 1820s and 30s, at least, they were actively encouraging emigration to spur development.

  27. annegb on November 30, 2005 at 12:13 pm

    I’ve had a tough time with this issue. We have so many Mexicans moving into our town, illegal and legal. Many don’t learn English, the part of town they’ve moved into has become a place you don’t want to go to at night, the police are always there and they bring a lot of drugs into our city.

    But there are mostly good people from Mexico here. I have to remind myself that. I have to take a minute when I’m in Wal-Mart behind a Mexcan woman and her family that they are good people, I make up a story about them and their goodness, involving a relationship with God (not necessarily the church), a desire for education and a better life for their kids.

    Now she could go home and make meth in her basement, but I am trying to overcome my bigotry. I don’t like feeling dislike for someone based on their origin. But if you go to the northwest part of town and see the decay, you might understand a little.

    Would I turn in a church member who was here illegally? Nope. I would exercise judgment and consider their motive.

  28. maria on November 30, 2005 at 12:13 pm

    b bell: “I would be getting naturalized or get a green card ASAP”

    I think you have no idea how difficult this process is. People wait for YEARS, complying with all regulations, only to be turned away, time and time again.

  29. Elisabeth on November 30, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    Again, given that U.S. immigration laws are inconsistently enforced with very disparate and potentially grave consequences, I would remind anyone reading this thread that your decision to report an “illegal” could result in splitting up a family, or jeopardizing someone’s life – if he or she is deported back to a dangerous situation in his or her home country. The painful consequences of U.S. immigration laws are not hypothetical situations to wax philosophical about. Unless you are fully prepared to accept the very real consequences of your actions, leave well enough alone.

  30. b bell on November 30, 2005 at 12:24 pm

    To somehow compare settling virgin territory in 1847 to millions of people with Mexican government support coming over the border is flat out disingenious.

    Did the Mexican Government send an army to force out the Saints? Did they even know that we were there for one year prior to American Control? Come on…..

  31. Visorstuff on November 30, 2005 at 12:25 pm

    It is interesting that we as Mormons can think on one hand that the peoples who come here to live are led to do so by God (1 Nephi 13), but then on the other hand, we believe if they do it illegally they are wrong to do so (D&C 134). And then we wonder why so many in other countries see us as a “American Church.” This is a complex issue indeed.

    Being in Arizona, I personally find our immigration laws outdated, difficult to navigate and discriminatory to certain countries and peoples. But I’m definitely not advocating letting anyone walk across the border. But what is the proper gospel viewpoint on the matter?

    Isn’t the “America versus immigrants” attitude a form of racial or ethnic or cultural discrimination? Do we seek to keep jobs in America rather than letting minimum-wage jobs go to India because we think our people are better than theirs? Is keeping people outside of the U.S. down in favor of Americans in harmony with the gospel? Should we seek to improve the life situation of people wherever they are from, and wherever the decide to live?

    I stuggle with the hipocracy of conservatives that want to keep people out of the U.S. for patriotic reasons, and then they expect them to work for nothing – this seems very discriminatory. And I think it is hypocritical of liberals to on one hand seek to keep people out, and then decry that hispanic, laotian, vietnamese, and somalian immagrants are discriminated against once they get here – this is discriminatory as well. Both views are lame and circular.

    This issue is much more complex for a gospel student – as complex as environmentalism, social liberalism and democracy – ideals that gospel students such as Hugh Nibley and Sid Sperry and prophets such as Brigham Young, Spencer W. Kimball and Gordon B. Hinckley have taught.

    Is anti-immigration in harmony with the gospel?

  32. maria on November 30, 2005 at 12:26 pm


    But I doubt the saints were “documented” either. Then again, there were no CBP officers, border checkpoints, etc. Immigration regulation has changed drastically since the 1840s.

    The broader point I was attempting to make was that it’s plausible that an immigrant could have a compelling reason to justify her illegal entry into another nation–religious persecution, physical survival, etc.

    I guess I’m just still uncomfortable with Adam’s original sentiment that “I’m strongly opposed to illegal immigration. I’m no great fan of immigration of any sort, but illegal immigration really riles me.” I need him to explain to me the rationale behind these fairly blanket-like statements.

  33. Visorstuff on November 30, 2005 at 12:27 pm

    Sorry didn’t finish my thought:

    Is anti-immigration in harmony with the gospel? Or only when it is illegal?

  34. Julie M. Smith on November 30, 2005 at 12:31 pm

    US law is deliberately unenforced. If we really wanted to keep people out of this country, we wouldn’t have hundreds of miles of (basically) unpatrolled borders and uninspected cars. We would require people to actually have documentation in order to take on jobs, we’d hold contractors responsible for the immigration status of their subcontractors’ employees, we’d have INS agents and/or police stopping every single groundkeeping crew in Texas, we’d shut down the day-labor-for-hire sites that exist in every city and small town I’ve ever lived in, we’d do a thousand other easy and obvious (if expensive) things to be sure that they weren’t in this country.

    So if our government lacks the political will to prosecute them (why? because we don’t want to pay 6.35 for a head of iceburg lettuce), I don’t see why I–or the church–should get too worked up about enforcing laws that our society has no interest in enforcing.

  35. b bell on November 30, 2005 at 12:34 pm

    The answer to Visorstuff is:

    LDS are required to honor and sustain the law.

    Legal immigration is LEGAL so its fine

    Illegal immigration is ILLEGAL so we should be opposed to illegal activity.

  36. John Mansfield on November 30, 2005 at 12:37 pm

    If 19th Century Mexico had wanted to keep squatters out of her unsettled frontier, she could have mounted dog sled patrols to maintain sovereignty. At least, that is what international law requires Denmark to do to keep a claim to Northeast Greenland.

  37. Mark B. on November 30, 2005 at 12:37 pm

    JrL has got the Church’s motive right, I think. It’s not the foreign missionaries called to the US–getting them an R-1 visa is simple and straightforward, and the visa term can be for as long as five years.

    It’s the young man (most of the YM in Brooklyn and Queens, I suspect) who was brought here from Mexico by his parents when he was 2 years old, who wants to serve a mission but cannot because he is not in legal status. Under the law (before the Bennett amendment) the Church and its leaders could have been subject to criminal penalties for “harboring” or “transporting” an alien not in possession of proper visa. The law simply exempts religious institutions from those penalties if it “calls” such an alien as an unpaid volunteer minister, missionary, etc. If it opens the way for those young men to serve missions, I say Hallelujah.

    [Next sentence, with colorful language describing where Tom Tancredo and other demagogues like him can go, deleted by poster before "Submit Comment" button was clicked.]

    Whenever I feel like barring the door and keeping all those dirty foreigners out, I remember John and Elizabeth Butler and their six children, who immigrated from England in 1853, so they could gather with the saints. What if Tom Tancredo and his ilk had been at the pier in New Orleans to tell them to go back home?

  38. b bell on November 30, 2005 at 12:39 pm


    The majority of US citizens want all the immigration laws enforced. The government both local and fed has been ignoring the people. Soon very soon there is going to be a crackdown on illegal immigration. The political momentum is building as we speak. Go read the polls on this issue.

  39. maria on November 30, 2005 at 12:42 pm

    Amen, Elizabeth.

    I think another point that is lost on the average American is that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement–the INS hasn’t existed since it was reorganized into the DHS in 2002) isn’t going to expend valuable resources going after the law-abiding, likely mother of a U.S. citizen child, sister in your ward, even if you do have the audacity and hypocrisy to report her. The majority of immigrants actually removed from the U.S. are those that have run into trouble with the law–specifically those that commit aggravated felonies. And even a lot of those guys slip through the cracks. Do you really think it’s a wise use of scarce resources to send ICE after Sister Sanchez when they can’t even keep track of the release of undocumented aggravated felons from prison?

  40. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 12:44 pm

    I don’t think the Mormon migration into Mexican territory is so easily dismissed, but regardless, what about this country and the Indians? Many of us are now living on land from which they were forcibly moved. Try reconciling the Trail of Tears with the hardline arguments about illegal immigration.

    We do need effective border control and an effective immigration policy, I don’t really think that is at issue. The point here is how we are to treat undocumented immigrants. I think writing them off as “illegals” is wrong and I fully support the Church’s push for an exception and see it as in line with the view that these are our brothers and sisters. It’s important to recognize that nationality is not going to count for much at the pearly gates.

  41. Visorstuff on November 30, 2005 at 12:48 pm

    b bell – the issue is much more complex than that. I would not be here if it were not for my pre 1860 ancestors immigrating to the U.S. – some undocumented, some probably illegally, some with the stamp of the King of England and none via ellis island. I’m guessing the same is true for you.

    The Saints practiced polygamy long after it was illegal in Utah and other US territories. They still do some things that are not exactly legal as was alluded to in the first paragraph of Adam’s post.

    The issue is much more complex. As gospel adherents, should we seek to change the law as vigorously on this issue as we do for other issues such as “gay marriage” or, at one time polygamy, because we believe America is a land of promise? Much, much more complex than your answer leads the reader to believe.

  42. b bell on November 30, 2005 at 12:48 pm

    I also fully support the churchs stand like Marc above. Any fool that calls the INS on a fellow church member has issues IMHO.

    Like I said I am of two minds on this issue and fully support LEGAL immigration

  43. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 12:50 pm

    B Bell… So how do you feel about the LDS Church lobbying for an exception to preserve its right to be able to help these “illegal” immigrants who are involved in “illegal activities.” Remember that hese are our brothers and sisters.

  44. CS Eric on November 30, 2005 at 12:51 pm

    My experience with the INS is limited, but I have found that, in the El Paso office, at least, the only way to get help is to actually show up. I have advised several people on getting the appropriate paperwork, and have found in every case where things were done by phone, mail, or online, the INS is unresponsive at best.

    On the other hand, I understand what it feels like to not have all the proper documentation. Somewhere in the middle of my mission to Korea, I discovered I had lost my passport. Being blond and blue-eyed, I wasn’t too concerned about the possibility of its being stolen, and I had my visa. I didn’t really worry about it until it came near time to return home. I found I couldn’t go back without a passport, so the last few days when I planned on doing some sightseeing and last-minute shopping, I was standing in line at the US Embassy getting a new passport. Thank goodness I still had my visa, or I don’t know what I would have done.

  45. b bell on November 30, 2005 at 12:54 pm


    I am not sure that there was such a thing as illegal immigration until sometime in the last 100 years or so. If somebody could enlighten us that would be great. It seems that people got off the boat settled some land or whatever and became a part of society.

    I do have ancestors that came thru ellis island in the 1880-1900 and they were LEGAL. We have the papers to prove it. That is the difference. They came in thru the front door. Proper papers in hand. No forged documents etc.

    To somehow compare immigration in 1860 to illegal immigration today with forged papers and mexican government support of lawbreaking is disingenious

  46. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 12:56 pm

    B Bell… you ignore the Indians. Forcibly removing people from lands they had first should count as “illegal” immigration.

  47. Veritas on November 30, 2005 at 12:57 pm

    The thing that gets me when people get all ‘anti-immigration’ is that they think the people coming here to pick their strawberries and clean your toilets have some other option thats legal.

    We used to, as a nation, embrace our diversity. We were the Great Melting Pot, a nation people flocked to to seek a better life or escape persecution. This whole conversation is deppressing me. There should be no question. Quit letting the media demonize our browned-skinned brothers and sisters and realize that some laws are very, very unjust. We should all be working to change them.

    Whoever quoted MLK earlier, thank you.

  48. b bell on November 30, 2005 at 12:58 pm


    I already said I supported the churchs efforts to shield itself from liability on this issue. Also we should support our members wether illegal or legal.

  49. Tim J. on November 30, 2005 at 12:58 pm

    Maria (#39),

    See my first post (#2). They deport anybody for any reason they see fit.

  50. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 1:01 pm

    Another quotation seems fitting:

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
    Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

  51. b bell on November 30, 2005 at 1:04 pm

    Here is one for you Marc concerning the Indians and there displacement. I guess that the BOM is not PC. Go and read 1 Nephi 13 vs 12-16.

    Then if you keep reading the BOM you will discover that those that come to this land are led by the HG. I support this idea and will continue to support legal orderly immigration.

  52. Elisabeth on November 30, 2005 at 1:05 pm

    “Any fool that calls the INS on a fellow church member has issues IMHO.”

    “And likely as not, in a particular kind of duty-mood, I might report it if I discovered some illegals. I’d feel sick about it, but I’d probably do it. I would not–Iâ€?m certain of this–turn in people I met through church. Why?”

    Sure, so just go ahead and call the INS (now USCIS) to ruin the lives of non-Mormons. They don’t matter.

    On a lighter note, I’m laughing to myself here because reforming the US immigration laws is one of the few issues on which I agree with President Bush, but yet all the Mormon Bush supporters seem to disagree with Bush on this issue! LOL. I can’t win.

  53. maria on November 30, 2005 at 1:13 pm

    Tim J.–Yes, sometimes law-abiding people like your Guatemalan example do get removed. But the vast majority of immigrants that are actually put on the plane and sent back to [insert country] are criminals. I was speaking with an ICE officer in the Manhattan ICE office this past August and, according to his estimates (I’m sure there are stats out there somewhere), only about 10% of the immigration court’s removal orders are actually ever enforced. When ICE has to decide who it’s going to send the detectives/officers out to hunt down, their priority is obviously going to be the ones who are murderers, sex offenders, controlled substance violaters, etc. What happens in the other 90% of the cases is that a removal order is issued, the immigrant changes addresses, and no one at ICE has the energy/resources to look into the matter further.

  54. Mark B. on November 30, 2005 at 1:13 pm

    Whatever the polls say (and I’m convinced that you can ask questions to get the answer you want), the DHS is seriously underfunded, and doesn’t have the personnel to undertake serious patrolling of the border or removal of those here without papers.

    So, let’s face it. We don’t want the immigration laws strictly enforced. And it’s not just cheap groceries either. I don’t think we want 11,000,000 people rounded up, stuffed into buses and sent south. That would run counter to our heritage as a nation of immigrants, and we would (should, I think) feel hypocritical about doing it, since we’re all immigrants or children of immigrants.

    You’re right about the history of the immigration laws. They had their beginning with such bright spots as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the 1891 amendments that barred criminals, paupers and polygamists. (The application for immigrant visa/green card still has a question: “Do you intend to practice polygamy in the United States?” 1924 saw the adoption of the first quota system, limiting immigrants from any country to 2% of persons from that country in the 1890 census.

    The Immigration and Nationality Act, adopted in 1952 and much amended since, is the current immigration law. It’s too big a mess to describe here.

  55. Mark B. on November 30, 2005 at 1:17 pm

    Maria, do you practice immigration law in New York. If so, we should talk. mebutler (at)

    The problem with the “controlled substance” violators is that it’s as draconian as the Rockefeller drug laws in New York.

    I represent a man (a member of the church, now, by the way) who is in exclusion proceedings because of a 20 year old conviction for possession of one marijuana cigarette. (The state criminal penalty was a $100 fine.) He’s been a permanent resident for 30 years, and ICE is wasting your tax dollars trying to remove him from the US. Go figure.

  56. maria on November 30, 2005 at 1:18 pm


    I hear you on the Bush approval flip-flop. My husband about fell over last night when I was explaining to him about how much I like the guest-worker visa proposals Bush has set forth. He made some comment about hell freezing over….(DH is a gun-totin’, rural UT-roots Republican).

  57. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 1:18 pm

    B Bell… You miss my point entirely. I’m not saying that this land should not have been settled, I’m saying that our attitudes toward “illegal” immigration should be tempered by the acknowledgement that we are all “illegal” in some sense of the word. I would also like to note that I find your implication that I don’t regularly read the BOM to be offensive and uncalled for.

  58. b bell on November 30, 2005 at 1:23 pm


    You are reading to far into my last post if you are offended. I was just pointing out a scripture my man.

  59. Ana on November 30, 2005 at 1:24 pm

    I have a documented child of undocumented parents in my Mia Maid class. I would never, never, never turn in her parents; I wouldn’t dream of it. She is thriving in her secular and spiritual education here in a way that she almost certainly could not in Mexico. Not to mention that this is the only home she has ever known.

    It seems to me that it complicates things to think that many undocumented immigrants have children born on U.S. soil who have as much right to their citizenship as me or my children. What happens to these children when their parents are deported?

  60. maria on November 30, 2005 at 1:25 pm

    Mark B.:

    You already know me but I write under another name to protect my identity. Or maybe not really my identity, but my husband’s. :)

    By the way, I decided to turn down the Phoenix immigration court’s offer and go with Fragomen instead. I still kind of feel like I’m selling out, but at least I’ll be able to take on a few pro bono asylum cases every once in a while.

  61. Tim J. on November 30, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    “Whatever the polls say (and I’m convinced that you can ask questions to get the answer you want), the DHS is seriously underfunded, and doesn’t have the personnel to undertake serious patrolling of the border or removal of those here without papers.”

    Though not under the DHS, we have thousands of U.S. troops in countless peaceful nations across the world. Could we not reassign them to the border? It was mentioned earlier, if we wanted to close the border, stop immigration, etc., we could.

  62. Mark B. on November 30, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    Why not, b bell, support those who are led here by the Holy Ghost, but do not have the connections necessary to obtain an immigrant visa? Or do you suppose that the Holy Ghost only leads those here who are able to obtain a visa?

    (I’ll leave aside completely the question of just what “land” Lehi was talking about in those verses.)

  63. Paul on November 30, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    14 And the Father hath acommanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance.

    15 And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people—

    16 Then shall ye, who are a a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

    Good luck stopping immigration of any form.

  64. maria on November 30, 2005 at 1:38 pm


    Again, the likelihood that your Mia Maid’s law-abiding parents would ever be on ICE’s radar screen is very low. However, were they to be placed in removal proceedings they would hopefully have a compelling “cancellation of removal” case. To effectively quash the removal order they would need to show that they: 1)had lived in the U.S. continuously for 10 years, 2)had good moral character, 3)hadn’t committed any aggravated felonies, and 4) had a U.S. citizen child (your Mia Maid) that would experience “extreme and unusual hardship” upon the removal of her parents. Of course, individual judge’s standards on what constitutes that level of hardship vary, but I’ve seen findings of of extreme hardship over things like a child’s asthma, or a mother’s inability to earn a living income if she were to be removed to Mexico.

    And, even if the judge didn’t grant cancellation of removal, her parents would only have to move across town to “escape” the enforcement of the order.

  65. Carl Youngblood on November 30, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    I think it’s incredibly important to keep our current immigration laws in perspective. It wasn’t so long ago that immigration to the US was legal and encouraged, and that only known criminals were rejected upon arriving on our shores. That great poem (“give me your tired…”) was penned at this time. This incredible era in the history of our nation gave so many of our very own ancestors the first and best chance they had of social mobility, of making an honest living for themselves that allowed them to provide adequately for their families and actually leave a legacy to their posterity. Many of us today are the beneficiaries of their hard work.

    On the other hand, there was a lot of squalor and poverty on the margins of society, and there were many who through ignorance, misfortune or vice, were unable to survive. That is not to say that there was no safety net in this society. There were many charitable organizations who donated their time and money to help the poor. But they were still stretched beyond their means. This, however, is the price of freedom and I still think that charitable organizations are more successful at eliminating poverty than the government.

    One big advantage of allowing easy immigration for those willing to work is that it is a lot easier to regulate something that is legal. If we make immigration easy, then it will be easy to capture known criminals, because they will be the only ones trying to jump the fence. If a law-abiding immigrant can enter through the doors, why would he try the much more difficult and dangerous task of crossing illegally?

    One difficult obstacle to returning to this situation is that our current social safety net is too generous. Social security would need to be severely curtailed or abandoned altogether for an open immigration policy to work. I still think it’s worth it. One of the unfortunate side effects of social security that I have seen in our nation is that families no longer stay together. Almost every family I met on my mission in Brazil had aging grandparents at home. This was normal and good, and the grandparents provided a lot of good lessons for young children growing up. They learned that it is our duty and privilege to care for the aged, and they gained wisdom and insight from their elders. Here in the US, social security has made it so the elderly don’t need their kids to survive and the kids don’t want them, so they live apart.

    In short, I say open our doors so that we can more easily secure our borders. Drop social security and minimum wage (which really doesn’t exist for illegal immigrants anyway). These measures will make the blessings of self-determination and agency available to millions more people and will increase world-wide awareness of how democracies are supposed to function. We will also finally be calling a spade a spade and admitting that we are already dependent on immigrant labor to maintain our current standard of living.

  66. b bell on November 30, 2005 at 1:41 pm


    That is why its such a complicated issue. I personally draw the line at illegal activity but at the same time can see that the HG can and probably does bring some illegals here based on my understanding of the BOM. (I could be out to lunch on my BOM understanding on this issue though) So if an illegal is here they need to apply for and make a serious effort to get legal and not further violate the law by using forged documents.

    As you can see I have a complicated take on the issue.

    It could also be that Nephi is referring to the Americas in general as well.

  67. Veritas on November 30, 2005 at 1:42 pm

    Right on, Paul. American’s forget that this is not the land of the current US Govt.’s inheritence, but the land set up for those we have the audacity to call illegal. We should all do well to remember that the current political borders did not exist when Nephi was keeping a record….

  68. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 1:45 pm

    It is a complicated, difficult issue as this vibrant discussion well attests. As such I don’t think it is in any way bad to have a complicated or nuanced position on it.

  69. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 1:46 pm

    B Bell – Above is my response to #66 (people post too fast on this site :)

  70. maria on November 30, 2005 at 1:49 pm

    Furthermore, Ana, you can take comfort in knowing that removal proceedings take YEARS to complete. Even if her parents were spotted by ICE, it would be another year before they’d be served with a notice to appear, and probably another six months before their first hearing would even be scheduled. Throw in a few delays to find an attorney (immigrants aren’t entitled to state-appointed counsel in removal proceedings, even though they can be detained under the regs), gather evidence, submit memos of law, and voila a decade has passed. By then, hopefully, all these crappy laws will have changed anyway.

    I’m currently representing a client with my law school’s immigration clinic who has been in removal proceedings since 1992. He’s tired of all the run around and really wants to have the opportunity to prove his case once and for all. At his master calendar hearing in October, the judge did us a huge “favor” by moving up his individual merits hearing date from October 2006 to April 2006 (so that I can try the case before the end of the school year). Molasses flowing uphill moves more rapidly than the U.S. immigration courts.

  71. Tracy M on November 30, 2005 at 1:56 pm

    Obviously there are not easy answeres here. Ok, so here is a complicated situation. What would you do?

    My brother married a hispanic woman, she was born here and so were her brothers, and her mother has a green-card. However, her mother rents out her garage and house to illegals, several to a room. Several family members have been deported more than twice, (which makes it a felony, not a misdemeaner) and her mother sends them money to sneak across in trucks with produce.

    My brother has been studying to be a police officer for years, and was headed to the academy, but when he realized he could not swear on oath that he had no knowledge of any illegal activity, he has postponed his entrance exams. He does not know what to do. Do you turn in your wifes family? Do you change your carreer path because of the unfortunate choices of extended family? What do you do?

  72. Visorstuff on November 30, 2005 at 1:57 pm

    Another interesting take on this is the European saints during world war II who sought to illegally emmigrate from germany, austria etc. Is it just as wrong to flee a country because it is illegal? Should we stay put and not revolt (not that I’m calling for a revolution) when the government crosses a line?

    Should we prosecute ALL those who break the law? If we go after all illegal immigrants, shouldn’t we also prosecute to the fullest those who break traffic laws, jaywalk or in some places spit on the sidewalk? Or are some laws archaic and in need of change. Is immigration laws one of these?

    Is immigration/emmigration malum prohibitum (“bad because prohibited”), or malum in se (“inherently bad”)? Is it a sin or a transgression? As saints, what is our obligation as we should believe and support in immigration, but also believe in honoring the law.

  73. Seth Rogers on November 30, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    Really, this whole discussion is really just about when we’re supposed to report “wrongdoing” to the authorities.

    When do we have an obligation to rat-out someone else?

    Do you have a moral obligation to tattle when you don’t agree with the law?

    Does the fact that you like the person you are ratting on make any difference? Does Mormon solidarity trump stupid and unenforceable laws?

  74. DavidH on November 30, 2005 at 2:45 pm

    ” To be in the country illegally is a misdemeanor. (If you are deported and then return illegally, it is a felony).”

    To split hairs, I understand that it is not a crime to be in this country illegally, but it is a misdemeanor to enter this country illegally. I am not sure what the statute of limitations is, but I suppose after some period of time a person who entered illegally would not be subject to misdemeanor prosecution (but would be subject to deportation). But I defer to our immigration lawyers on those issues.

  75. gst on November 30, 2005 at 2:51 pm

    Seth: another factor which may bear on the the question of whether one has a responsibility to be an informer might be whether the government is likely to do anything with the information.

  76. danithew on November 30, 2005 at 2:55 pm

    Many countries that people are leaving for the United States could be a paradise for those who have a profession and some money. I often thought this about Guatemala while living there.

    Laying aside politics and issues like immigration, we can help our LDS brothers and sisters by contributing to the Perpetual Education Fund.

  77. Mathew on November 30, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    “I’ve done a lot of churchwork in the kitchens of people who I was morally certain were in the country illegally.”

    What does it mean to be morally certain that someone is in the country illegally? Can moral certainty attach to a simple question of fact? I can’t be morally certain that I ate Cookie Crunch for breakfast (I did, by the way–that stuff is good) because there is no moral dimension to the question.

    A word of advice, when the “duty mood” strikes and you feel tempted to report your neighbors’ politically accepted misdemeanors, consult with Pavlik Morozov for moral clarity.

    Congratulations to Mr. Greenwood, though, for observing the second commandment! Indeed a topic worthy of discussion.

  78. Bill Evans on November 30, 2005 at 3:14 pm

    Adam and some commentators have suggested they would report to authorities the presence of undocumented immigrants so that the immigrants could be deported.

    This thread reminds me of Gene England’s argument in “Why the Church is as true as the gospel.�

    I disagree deeply those who would sic the INS/Border Patrol on an immigrant, enough so that, taking Adam as an example, because of his view, I wouldn’t employ him as a lawyer, if he owned a grocery store, I wouldn’t shop there (let’s leave aside the economic reality that the produce sold would have been harvested with “illegal� labor), I wouldn’t invite him to my house, I wouldn’t let him in my house, etc.

    But, despite my extreme distaste for his viewpoint, if he were in my ward, we’d likely still end up friends and brothers (with the qualification I would vote not to sustain him in a leadership position because I don’t regard someone who would “report� an undocumented immigrant member of the ward or community as able to fulfill his/her calling).

  79. Adam Greenwood on November 30, 2005 at 3:39 pm

    Here’s a related discussion, by Eugene Volokh, on our moral and legal duties to report things to the authorities:

  80. Adam Greenwood on November 30, 2005 at 3:47 pm

    As I suspected, all of the liberal paragons of virtue around here were unable to think through a question that would require them to step outside their political pieties. Oh, well.

    Greenfrog, Elisabeth, et al. From now on, why don’t we just take it as a given that whenever I say something you’ll respond by attacking me? That would save you the trouble of even having to comment.

  81. Mathew on November 30, 2005 at 4:16 pm

    Volokh correctly states that it is wrong to call a doctor or social worker who reports child sexual abuse or physical abuse “snitches” and “rats.” But that is entirely because those particular epithets are misused in that context. As children on playgrounds across America can explain, in some instances it is appropriate to turn to the authorities and other instances when things are better handled within the community. If a child beats another child then of course the problem should be brought to the authorities’ attention. If a child runs to the teacher everytime a curse word is directed at an errant ball, then the child is correctly labeled a snitch. It is a matter of degree.

    Rhetorically Volokh does exactly what one would expect him to do–he illustrates his point with the extreme example (much as I did above with my comment on Pavlik Morozov). But his argument loses its power when you substitute different examples. He concludes his post by arguing that people’s willingness to help fight crime by calling the police when they have evidence of crime does not make us a nation of snitches. Whether he is right or not, however, depends entirely on the context–a fact that Volokh acknowledges. If we call the police everytime someone jay walks then, yes, our willingness to fight the crime of jay walking by calling the police does make us a nation of snitches.

  82. Visorstuff on November 30, 2005 at 4:40 pm

    This thread and subject is so interesting as this is one of the more heated threads I’ve read here – as a conservative republican in the border state of Arizona I realize immigration is an big issue. That said, my gospel upbringing leads me to conflicting feelings on the topic. Reading this, I realize that immigration is not a liberal-conservative/democrat-republican issue. It is much deeper.

    Like most things in life, this is a grey issue in a technicolor world.

    Oh for the black-and-white days of “I Love Lucy” and “Mayberry!”

  83. Mathew on November 30, 2005 at 4:44 pm

    “all of the liberal paragons of virtue around here were unable to think through a question that would require them to step outside their political pieties.”


    Have you considered the possibility that many people stepped outside their “political pieties” (nice alliteration) and still disagreed with you? The “everyone hates Adam” thing is disingenuous. I respond exactly to what you write–it just so happens that you write a lot of terrible stuff. Whether it fits neatly within the place on the political spectrum you seem to believe so many have pegged you or not is beside the point. Maybe you need to start taking people’s responses to your posts seriously instead of simply writing them off as you seem to be doing?

  84. maria on November 30, 2005 at 4:47 pm

    #80 Adam:
    As I suspected, all of the liberal paragons of virtue around here were unable to think through a question that would require them to step outside their political pieties.
    I am a little confused by this statement and am wondering if you could elaborate a little bit. Because I thought a lot of the commenters here were actually reaching outside of their “usual” political affiliations.

  85. Marc Bohn on November 30, 2005 at 4:59 pm

    “As I suspected, all of the liberal paragons of virtue around here were unable to think through a question that would require them to step outside their political pieties.”

    I think that statement is grossly unfair. First, I think for the most part this string has focused on immigration policy in light of our religious beliefs and in light of the recently disclosed lobbying effort by the Church. An interesting topic that seems wholly appropriate for this site. Second, you set up the discussion asking people to defend a stance that, while some might support, others seem to find morally abhorrent (defending someone who turns a fellow Latter Day Saint in for an immigration violation). One should also point out that it is a stance that would seem to negate the very purpose of the exception that the Church is pushing for. If I ask you to defend a proposition you find morally abhorrent, say something like abortion, do I then have a right to castigate you for not jumping through my hoop?

    I agree that commenters should strive to avoid personal attacks, and any that were made against you should not have been made, but you seem to be joining with the chorus by apparently casting anyone with views on immigration different from yours in a demeaning light (“all of the liberal paragons of virtue around here”).

  86. Kaimi Wenger on November 30, 2005 at 5:00 pm


    I appreciate your desire to ask a question that assumes certain premises. That is, you ask “assuming that one believes illegal immigration is wrong, how should a church member deal with it?” And some of the commenters chose not to stay within that constraint, but to address the broader topic.

    That said, I’m not seeing the “attack” that you mention. A conversation that turns more broad-ranging than you intended, yes. But we have long-term experience telling us that that tends to be the normal development of blog threads. (See, e.g., Nate’s attempt to discuss the theological consequences of gay marriage, ). I don’t think it should be read as an attack.

  87. DavidH on November 30, 2005 at 5:04 pm

    Question for our immigration lawyers. One of the sections (section 1324) to which the Church requests an exemption makes it a crime subject to 5 years imprisonment (and forfeiture of vehicle) if a person:

    “knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, transports, or moves or attempts to transport or move such alien within the United States by means of transportation or otherwise, in furtherance of such violation of law”.

    Should we routinely ask for proof of citizenship or authorized immigration status before giving anyone a ride to church or anywhere else? Are the New York subways and buses in danger of being forfeited to the federal government for giving rides to aliens in “reckless disregard” of their immigration status?

  88. greenfrog on November 30, 2005 at 5:22 pm

    Greenfrog, Elisabeth, et al. From now on, why don’t we just take it as a given that whenever I say something you’ll respond by attacking me? That would save you the trouble of even having to comment.

    Perhaps the trouble, but not the need. Why feel attacked? You asked us to speculate about what leads you to engage in conduct you purport to reject. I’ve suggested that your feelings are a better guide than your reasoning. Do you disagree with that conclusion — despite it being offered by one whom you view as an adversary?

  89. Julie M. Smith on November 30, 2005 at 5:53 pm

    re b bell in #38–

    They may want the laws enforced in the abstract, but when they start having to pay for lettuce-picked-by-US-citizens and lawns-mown-by-US-citizens, they may be singing a different tune. (Note that I’m not advocating anything here, just pointing to what I think the reality is.)

  90. Mark B. on November 30, 2005 at 6:31 pm


    Thats Section 274 of the INA, codified at 8 USC 1324.

    I don’t know if there’s any case law defining “transporting”–my hunch is that it would require more than allowing people on the subway without checking their visas.

    On the other hand, providing air transportation (as the Church does for missionaries) would appear to fall within the meaning of “transporting”.

    Beyond that, I’m too busy to do any research. Ask maria, our resident law student.

    Before we rat out the “illegals”–I hate that word, mostly, I think, because it suggests a moral wrong–we should remember the words of one of our hymns:

    Who am I to judge another when I [jay]walk imperfectly?
    In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see.

    How’s this for a possibility:

    Jose Jimenez, a Mexican, entered the US without inspection (that means he sneaked across the border w/o visa) in January 1998. Since then he has worked steadily for a US employer, married his sweetheart (also a Mexican) and is a good father to three children, all US citizens. Oh, and he also happens to be your elders quorum president. In March 2001 the employer filed an application for permanent labor certification for Jose, but the application is still pending.

    However, because the application was filed before April 30, 2001, Jose is eligible to adjust to lawful permanent resident status when (1) the labor department issues a labor certification and (2) a visa number [don't ask] is available. In order to do that, however, Jose has to remain in the US–he can’t leave, or he’ll be subject to a 10-year bar on reentry.

    So, what does the officious intermeddler do? Rat Jose out, so he can be put into removal proceedings, and perhaps be removed, before his case is completed by the labor department or a visa number becomes available for him? Or, maybe Jose won’t have his case assigned to Judge Jankun in NYC [don't ask, again] and the judge will grant a continuance long enough for the labor department to complete its work and the visa number to become available. In that case, all we’ll have accomplished is to cost Jose a couple of thousand dollars in legal fees and, of course, used up scarce DHS resources in processing a case that should never have been brought (but good luck getting the ICE counsel to exercise prosecutorial discretion and agreeing to drop the case!).

    You see, you don’t know the circumstances of Jose or any of the millions in similar circumstances. Maybe they’ve just swum the Rio Grande and have no chance of obtaining legal status, worlds without end. Or, maybe they’re halfway down that long pipeline that will eventually lead to lawful permanent residence. And all they need is someone sticking his *&^%*%^ nose into the works and mucking things up.

    And, for anyone who’s still here: it’s “disingenous” not “disingenious”.

  91. sam b on November 30, 2005 at 6:37 pm

    We have a long history of civil disobedience that only really died out with the Smoot Senate debacle. Why not tap into that rich legacy in our interpretation of the legal ramifications of our religious faith? I’m trying to imagine Jesus turning in his followers for deportation. Actually, I tried and failed.

    In answer to Adam Greenwood’s original question, I agree with others that this is fundamentally a question about identity and community, and immigration laws serve a notion of community first and foremost (whatever you think of the laws, they establish economic and social communities with all the attendant issues of crime, ethnicity, social safety networks and the like). For most of us as Latter-day Saints our most potent community is the church. Even those of us who live outside the church’s epicenter (both geographically and intellectually) often find our community most strongly among the LDS. That community disrupts the community of anti-immigration laws, leaving us alone with a moral sibling.

    To twist a variety of aphorisms with some basic application here, “it’s easier to kill a people than it is to kill a person,” and in church pews the “foreigner” becomes a person that it’s pretty hard to deport.

    PS as physicians we treat “illegal immigrants” all the time, and as far as i know we have no obligation to report anyone, and i can’t imagine most of my colleagues thinking it was even remotely moral to report someone to the INS. Our main complaint (speaking for a group rather brashly and arrogantly I admit) as physicians is that no one’s willing to pay for their basic health services. We’ll eat the fruits of their undervalued labors but we won’t pay for them to treat their heart disease. And I’m not just talking about unpaid physician fees–most of us include pro bono work for those unable to pay; I’m talking about all the rest, the tests, the clinics, the meds.

  92. Bill Evans on November 30, 2005 at 6:38 pm

    Adam, or anyone who feels an obligation to “report” an undocumented worker:
    Would you report the Church to the relevant government if you knew that it violated immigration laws of, say, Mexico (from my own actual experience in the 1980s) by improperly using tourist visas to gain access for U.S. citizen missionaries to serve in Mexico?

  93. CS Eric on November 30, 2005 at 6:50 pm


    I don’t do immigration law, but I think the key phrase in the citation you quote is whether the transportation is “in furtherance of such violation of law.” If you are taking the persons to Church because it is Sunday and time for the normal meetings, I think a prosecutor would be hard-pressed to say that your actions would be “in furtherance” of their undocumented status.

    If, however, you are taking them to Church because you know the INS agents are coming to their house and you want to make sure the persons aren’t home when the agents arrive, then I think your giving them a ride is “in furtherance” of the violation.

  94. Mark B. on November 30, 2005 at 6:57 pm

    CS Eric

    I suspect that Oscar McConkie III (who handled immigration matters for the church until July, when he began service as a mission president) was concerned that a prosecutor might think that hiding a young Mexican in a white shirt, dark pants and tie, with a missionary name tag, and transporting that young man from place to place, was in furtherance of his being in the US in violation of the law.

  95. b bell on November 30, 2005 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Mark,

    I cannot imagine that the scenario you decribe would actually happen. I could only see it in the context of a bitter family vs family fight in a ward.

  96. NateT on November 30, 2005 at 7:08 pm

    I love the high minded condensention heaped on Adam (speaking generally, not spcifically) for actually wanting people to follow the law while not enforcing the law himself.

    First of all saying “In X situation, we/our ancestors/etc. were illegal/legal immigrants” is completely irrelivant. Times change and the decenants of former immigrants, illegal or not, can reconize the current situation on immigration, the nation and the World is different from when theit ancestors arrived here i.e. international terrorism.

    Second, Adam in his way pointed out this is an extremely difficult problem, espcially in the context of the Church. I don’t think anyone (well alseast most people) would report a member that is here illegally out of the blue.

    Quite frankly I dont’ know why Adam posts things at all. Ive read this page for quite a while and have not posted for some time, but many of his posts get shouted down by the more “enlighted” amoung us. I give his a A for effort though because he keeps going on.

  97. Mathew on November 30, 2005 at 7:42 pm

    A for effort. F for content.

  98. Jenna on November 30, 2005 at 7:58 pm

    Responding to those [specifically #45] who say that their parents entered the country legally in the mid 18th century and therefore they are superior to immigrants who enter the country today: the history of US immigration law is horribly, regrettably racist: the first immigration laws essentially were to keep the Chinese out and let the Northern Europeans in. That I am of Northern European descent and that my family came to the US during that time reminds me that I am lucky to be here, not virtuous because I am here.

    Also, perhaps this is another topic, but if a law is patently unjust, why should we follow it? We follow the law (and I certainly do, being in the legal profession) but at the basis of the US Constitution [and Declaration of Independence] is the idea that laws that are counter to natural laws simply should not exist and should not be followed. MLK used that analysis to good effect.

    Finally, all of this discussion of whether to turn in “illegals” should, as some of the postings do, recognize there is a difference between violating a law that bans an inherently wrong behavior (murder) and law that bans a behavior that is not inherently wrong, (speeding, moving to another country without permission)

  99. maria on November 30, 2005 at 8:16 pm

    DavidH/Mark B.: Wish I had more time to research 8 USC 1324 but I have a 30 page paper due Monday (incidentally the topic is immigration law examined in light of critical race theory). But my unresearched/knee jerk response is that 1324 is aimed solely at human smugglers and couldn’t feasibly be used against someone driving Sister Sanchez to Enrichment. Like I said above, ICE really has bigger fish to fry.

  100. Elisabeth on November 30, 2005 at 9:00 pm

    Good luck, Maria! Our last class of the semester was tonight, and I could feel the tension as soon as I walked into the law school. I wish you the best on your finals/papers.

    Adam – I think it was the tone (and, to a lesser extent, the substance) of your original post more than anything that encouraged people to expound upon the broader issues of immigration instead of confining themselves to the specific question you asked. Particularly when you said you are strongly opposed to illegal immigration and not a fan of immigration of any kind. This is a fairly extreme view to hold, and since you weren’t around at first to explain your reasoning and steer the discussion in the way you desired, people of course focused on the more controversial parts of your post in their comments.

    I hope your trial went well, and I also hope that you don’t assume that everything I write in responding to you is an underhanded way of attacking you personally. If I were to attack you personally, I’d write something like, “Adam G. is a sociopath for thinking he should report people to the immigration authorities”.

  101. Mike W. on November 30, 2005 at 9:39 pm

    I’m glad I didn’t start reading this until now; I wouldn’t have accomplished anything today.

    What is our responsibility to illegal immigrants? I think that Paul’s scripture quote should not be treated lightly. That Jacob will thrash and tread it a very real possiblity (as the Gentiles of the Americas have deviated from Christ and devotion to family). I feel that what will ultimately save the U.S. from its self-imposed spiral of secularism and materialism is the influx of Latinos, come they legally or illegally.

    Additionally, conservatives are missing a huge opportunity to regain political ground with Latinos. This is one of the most conservative groups in the world. They prioritize family and religion. They are predominately anti-abortion and anti gay and support small community activism. Additionally, a larger proportion pay their medical bills (of those who don’t have insurance) than non-Latinos.

  102. manaen on November 30, 2005 at 9:54 pm

    8 J Alfred,
    Re: “My reading of D&C 134:8 seems to indicate an obligation on Church members to report illegal activity (which would include illegal immigration) to the authorities.”

    98 Jenna,
    Re: “Also, perhaps this is another topic, but if a law is patently unjust, why should we follow it? We follow the law (and I certainly do, being in the legal profession) but at the basis of the US Constitution [and Declaration of Independence] is the idea that laws that are counter to natural laws simply should not exist and should not be followed. MLK used that analysis to good effect.”

    Until J Alfred’s comment, I hadn’t noticed a particular word in D&C 134:8 that answers Jenna’s question:

    “We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public peace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.” (D&C 134:8)

    Fahu Tahi would be a leading Heisman candidate if he had holes in the opponents’ lines as big as “good” in this verse. Like discussions on (non)Temple marriage, WoW, etc. we’re again given room to search, ponder, and pray to determine our course of action.

    FWIW, as I noted here and here, I believe that given “But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.� (D&C 49:20), a country not only is wrong to limit immigration to protect an ours-is-better-than-theirs standard of living, but when jobs move to countries from which those immigrants would have come, the greedy/selfish country is getting their just reward. Interesting that the free market cures this social injustice.

  103. DavidH on November 30, 2005 at 11:07 pm

    Two college students who were transporting some dehydrated undocumented people to emergency care in Tucson are being prosecuted under secti 1324. I understand trial is scheduled to begin December 20.

  104. NateT on December 1, 2005 at 12:10 am

    to Mathew #97

    Thanks for proving my point. Can you be more mean-spirited? or does everyone have to agree with you?

  105. NateT on December 1, 2005 at 12:15 am

    To Jenna #98

    So what if previous laws were racist? I fail to see how this bares on the topic at hand.

  106. Jason Johnson on December 1, 2005 at 12:40 am

    I think that there are many of us that support the current immigration laws, and wish that our government would enforce them. Some are not even xenophobes, racists or nativists. At the same time we would not think of turning a fellow saint into the authorities soley for being in the country illegally. It is not my job, and frankly, though I might suspect that a neighbor or a member does not have legal status, I am not going to ask or try to find out. I’ll just go on being a neighbor, or a home teacher or whatever.

    The more interesting and, I am sure, very common dilema comes with a member that is an employer. Since we are told to uphold the laws of our country, what does a good member that has, say, a roofing business in Tempe, or a resturant in NYC do? What if the person applying for a job with oviously false documents is a member of our aquaintance?

  107. Not Ophelia on December 1, 2005 at 2:04 am

    Times change and the decenants of former immigrants, illegal or not, can reconize the current situation on immigration, the nation and the World is different from when theit ancestors arrived here i.e. international terrorism.

    Then again, maybe not.

  108. Legal on December 1, 2005 at 2:04 am

    There are people who legally immigrate. I am one of them. It took nearly 20 years, and my family is not wealthy, but we all immigrated as adults; all LEGALLY.

    The illegal immigrants use falisified documents (including stolen SS #s) to acquire jobs, file paperwork to obtain PR and citizenship, etc. It’s extremely dishonest and unfair. It worsens the procedures for legal immigrants, who get shoved back in line (i.e. there are now even longer waiting times for visa numbers due to the influx of the illegals). It is incredibly disingenuous and insiduous to stay in the country past the allowed time (in fact, to knowingly do so) and obtain the kinds of jobs that legal immigrants and citizens deserve. People who are trying to immigrate legally are often prevented from working while they wait for the paperwork to go through, even though they are allowed to live in the US. Yet the illegal immigrants lie, cheat and steal and get a paycheck.

  109. Legal on December 1, 2005 at 2:08 am


    I know faithful LDS who “repented” of breaking the law as illegals and returned to their home country, waiting faithfully until they could legally immigrate.

    And then I know of others who say they’re honest in all their dealings when they know they don’t give accurate information to their employers (i.e. false SSN #s, claiming they’re citizens, marriages of convenience, stolen papers, etc.). I even know a bishop who used to tell the illegal immigrants in his ward to marry a citizen for the purpose of becoming naturalized.

    That’s just wrong.

  110. Legal on December 1, 2005 at 2:17 am

    And to answer Jason’s question, the Church (i.e. Church employment) will not hire people who don’t have proper documentation, and they won’t sponsor immigrants (legal or illegal) for citizenship. That’s what HR and Kirton and McConkie told me anyway, but of course it all depends on who you know and who knows you…

  111. Mike W. on December 1, 2005 at 2:48 am

    Doh! on my comment on 101 it should have read anti-gay marriage. I am not characterizing my feelings, just those that conservatives would having in common with many Latinos.

  112. Legal Immigrant on December 1, 2005 at 4:10 am

    My family and I immigrated legally. It is an arduous, often costly process, but it’s the right thing to do and I believe in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.

    I know many people who have sacrificed to immigrate the legal, approved, authorized, non-cheating way. There are others who cut corners, steal SS numbers, lie on job applications (i.e. say they are citizens when they are not) and thereby prevent other, legally-minded immigrants from getting ahead. In fact, illegal immigration hinders legal immigration by pushing back the visa number due dates and prohibiting more legal immigrants form coming to the US (i.e. the visa lottery program now bans certain countries from applying.)

  113. Fred on December 1, 2005 at 5:07 am

    It is possible to legally immigrate. It is also the honest thing to do, especially because working as an illegal immigrant often means faking (or stealing) social security numbers, working jobs that legal immigrants are not yet allowed to take (i.e. legal immigrants especially via work visas can only be employed in a very narrow, specific field), and lying about their status constantly.

  114. greenfrog on December 1, 2005 at 10:49 am


    Upon further reflection, I would withdraw my comments on this thread.

    I apologize for any offense I have given.

  115. Adam Greenwood on December 1, 2005 at 11:30 am

    Sam B., comment #91-
    Your idea of interlocking communities and the conflicts they create has shed a lot of light for me. Thanks.


    I don’t personally feel that the Spirit is telling me that Open Borders are the will of God, but that’s one possible interpretation of my experience and a useful thing to have on the thread. Your follow-up explanation made things clearer.

  116. b bell on December 1, 2005 at 11:47 am


    I think makes the most relevant point to me. Legal is the only real way to go. Thru the front door with papers in hand. Not thru illegal means. It shows personal integrity.

    Welcome to the US Legal.

  117. maria on December 1, 2005 at 11:59 am

    bbell: But what about the immigrants who don’t have access to the financial, linguistic, educational, or social resources necessary in order to immigrate legally?

    While I am impressed by “Legal Immigrant’s” story, I suspect that his family had access to some resource that the majority of immigrants do not. While I am happy, in fact thrilled, that Legal Immigrant and his family have safely and legally immigrated to the U.S., I wonder–what makes him any more deserving of a life in the U.S. than a poor, illiterate farmer from Puebla, Mexico, who just wants to work in the fields in CA so he can feed his kids?

  118. DavidH on December 1, 2005 at 12:15 pm


    What would you advise a young person brought to this country at age 2 or 3, who speaks English fluently, has been educated here, and knows no one in and has no memory of his “home” country? Should he “deport” himself to his “home” country, and hope to be able to return to the US in 20 years?

  119. b bell on December 1, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    I think he stands on moral high ground. He played by the rules. Did not break the law etc. I am big fan of legal immigration.

    A poor person can also play by the rules and get in. My next door neighbor is a legal immigrant. He came here poor in 1995. His family from Belize played by the rules. He talks bad about illegals all the time. Says that they are cheating making the legit guys like him look bad. Cannot wait to get to vote in 2008. He has legit papers. Now he owns his own biz and his kido’s consider themselves Americans

    These types of legal immigrants bring strength to the US.

    That is the difference.

  120. Legal on December 1, 2005 at 12:55 pm


    You may be correct that my family and I–and many thousands of other legal immigrant families and individuals all over the United States and still waiting patiently in their own countries– have something that your proverbial Puebla farmer doesn’t have: a sense that integrity is the noblest virtue and that honesty is the best policy.

    In many cases, for me, it was a simple “yes” or “no” question: Are you a citizen? Being a citizen could open many, many doors–any job for which you were qualified, earning whatever you were worth, etc.

    At the time, waiting for permanent residency and not being able to work at the career of choice or even more than one job; not being able to work for more than minimum wage when I was in college and graduate school (all on academic scholarship, after having to show through borrowed funds that I could be supported), so many privileges and perks were denied me. Yet every day there were hundreds of thousands of people who stole others’ credit cards, social security numbers, time, energy, will and right to work here because they ILLEGALLY overstayed rightful permission to be in the US and worked without having the right to do so. It is abysmally unfair and it only hurts people who try to do things the legal way, even though the legal way can mean living in poverty for 20 years in or out of the United States while you patiently wait.

    I understand that at the present time, even if one is in the country legally but simply waiting for the paperwork in the mail (e.g. an EAD or green card), one is not allowed to apply for a driver’s license or even an ID card at the DMV. It used to be that certain legal immigrants could receive and Employment Authorization Document within days from application. Now it takes up to three months, and an honest LEGAL immigrant will comply even though it might mean starvation because of not being able to work. (Thank you illegals; this is largely your doing.)

    I refuse(d) to defraud, cheat, wheedle and steal my way in line to legal immigrant status. You surmise that my family was, or is, one of means. That is far from the truth. Years of living on uncooked ramen noodles, paying tens of thosuands of borrowed money to immigration lawyers and for INS/CIS fees, feeling (and being) second-class while waiting on paperwork is no picnic. But as you know, there are legal ways to immigrate here, and I would not sell my integrity for a mess of pottage.

    I have a friend from Chile who overstayed a visitor’s visa and refused to even accept a job as a nanny because she did not want to work under the table. She returned home to astonishingly impecunious circumstances, entered the visa lottery whenever she could, and she has finally–years later–been given a number and can legally enter the US and is in line for a green card. Hundreds of thousands of honest people do this every day. It can be done.

    There are many people who believe that breaking laws, rules and commandments will solve immediate problems and bring peace and happiness. Perhaps temporary happiness can be bought, but honesty cannot.

    I am glad that I could hold my head high every time I looked a prospective employer in the face and told the truth about my status–even when turned down because “I’m sorry, we only hire people with US citizenship” or “we only hire green card holders, not work visas”. Disappointment, despair and anguish accompanied me on my long 20+ journey to citizenship, but I have been legal every step of the way and I am grateful for the gospel’s having taught me to stand for something.

  121. Mike W. on December 1, 2005 at 1:10 pm


    Who do I need to talk with to initiate the legal immigration process for a friend in South America? Does the INS have a website with all appropriate information, or would you suggest speaking to someone directly? This is regarding a friend who wanted assistance immigrating on a work visa years ago and planned on staying. Together with other friends here in the US we encouraged him to stay and helped him through a trade degree. Things have just fallen apart now for him and his family. I am planning on starting a small business (restaurant serving South American food) in which he can use his trade (culinary arts). I hope that this will be enough to make his legal immigration appropriate and expedient. Any suggestions?

  122. Mark B. on December 1, 2005 at 2:39 pm


    In short: appropriate, perhaps, but not expedient.

    The USCIS (the part of the former INS that handles applications for benefits) has a website ( that has information about employment-based immigration. The part of the site that will give you an introduction is at

    One problem: if your friend is here in the US, he is required to maintain legal non-immigrant status from the date of his entry until the day he applies for the green card (which can be several years after the day that he starts the process–for example, employment based applicants of the type your friend appears to be may apply for their green cards this month if their employer filed their initial application with the Labor Department on or before March 15, 2001).

    I’d suggest you or your friend talk to an immigration lawyer to get specific answers for his case.

  123. maria on December 1, 2005 at 2:57 pm


    I never stated that I thought your family was well-off. Rather, I stated that I suspected that your family had access to some “financial, linguistic, educational, or social resource” that the average immigrant family does not have access to. I still suspect this to be the case, but maybe you could enlighten me further as to how your family gained access to the information necessary to apply for visas in your country of origin, how they knew whom to contact once they had arrived in the U.S., how they paid for the usual lawyer’s fees, etc.

    If you weren’t well off, did you have family members or friends who had previously immigrated who were able to steer you in the right direction (social resource)? Did your parents, though not wealthy, study English in your country of origin (linguistic resource)? For that matter, were they literate? Could they fill out the forms themselves (educational resource)?

    Again, all I am trying to say here is that the average immigrant doesn’t have access to the resources necessary to immigrate legally. I would say that it would be implausible, if not impossible, for someone like my Puebla farmer to immigrate to the U.S. legally.

    So, I’ll ask it again, what makes someone like the Puebla farmer less deserving of a life in the U.S. than other people who have better access to the resources I’ve outlined above?

    Maybe I’m reading too much into what you’ve said, but to me it seems that you imply that the Puebla farmer is morally deficient. And I don’t think he’s morally deficient, I just think he’s hungry.

  124. SiblingRevelry on December 1, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    What I would like to know, from all these staunch defenders of The Law, is if you’re willing to have The Law enforced in all of its aspects, which would include the prosecution of employers who employ undocumented persons?

    For example: Would you still be for it if you knew that such enforcement would increase the cost of a head of lettuce to $6.35 (as someone mentioned earlier)? Or what about good Mormon employers (and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few here in the Phoenix area that do this) who stop by the open air labor market and pick up a few guys without papers for some casual construction-type labor? Would you feel compelled to turn Bro. Employer in for labor law violations? He’s violating The Law as well!

    Immigration enforcement is a two-way street. It’s not just the immigrants who have to be responsible for their status, but the employers ought to be obeying the law as well. We know this is not happening, because you can go to the open air labor markets any weekday morning and see for yourself. The fact is, the political will is simply not there to enforce already existing laws targeting employers. One state representative here in AZ proposed a *state* law that would target employers, but it died the thousand deaths because *every* Chamber of Commerce in the state lobbied against it. The CofCs know which side their bread is buttered on, and it’s buttered on the backs of the undocumented persons that some of their members have no compunction about hiring on a regular basis under the table.

    So, is this truly about illegal immigration or not?

  125. Tara on December 1, 2005 at 3:10 pm

    Very interesting discussion.

    I met my husband overseas, he later came to the states, entered legally on a work visa, and upon our marriage and applying for his green card, promptly had his work visa taken away. (He is european, not hispanic, but it’s not easy, no matter your race)

    We waited for nearly 4 years for his green card application to be approved. It took 2 1/2 years before his permission to work again was granted. I supported us the entire time, and the two of us took janitorial jobs in the evenings (in my name, both of us doing the work) in order to make ends meet.

    His father died, he (we) is now the soul provider for his invalid mother. We obtained a visitor visa for her to come here. Every six months, she has to leave the country, and then return again a few days later in order to comply with her visa terms. This is incredibly difficult, as she is an invalid. Expensive also. We have recently learned we cannot apply for a green card for her until dh is a citizen, for which he has to wait another year and nine months before he is eligble to apply.

    My smart, master degree educated husband is currently working making $7 hourly while awaiting his previous education accepted as viable here in the states. But we have done it the right way. We have done it the legal way, and we know that we will be blessed for our efforts.

    My point in stating all of this is that we have tried our utmost to live the Gospel, to be honest in our dealings, and we have suffered beyond belief because of it. But some days, just knowing we’re obeying the laws of the land, gets us through.

    It IS possible to enter the country legally, to remain legally, and to keep your integrity intact. It is NOT easy, but it is possible.

  126. Tara on December 1, 2005 at 3:14 pm

    I posted all that about us, not to toot our horn, but to say that it can be done.

    We have had NO assistance from church, friends, family, or the government throughout this ordeal. We’ve lived on prayers, tomato soup and scrimped and saved, including taking every odd job available in order to pay for our fees. We have not had an attorney, as we couldn’t afford it.

    Again, it isn’t easy, but if you trust God and it’s His will, He can make miracles happen. Not in my time necessarily but even so, they can come to pass.

  127. Legal Immigrant on December 1, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    There are many people in many third world countries who value honor more than a chance to cheat their way into the US.

    Just as legal immigrants find some kind of social, linguistic or other resource to migrate, illegal immigrants have their networks and systems to defraud the government. They know they are “sneaking” over the border. They know they are not on the up and up. And once they get here, most don’t want to pay the price to make themselves legal because of the dire consequences.

    Even so, there are periodically amnesties and waivers for which illegals can apply but legals can’t. Most illegal immigrants I know became citizens long before I did.

  128. maria on December 1, 2005 at 3:43 pm


    Let me also say that I am sincerely impressed by your family’s personal choice to pursue immigration legally. I am certain that you sacrificed, and suffered, much.

    One of my best friends in this world, an illegal immigrant from Honduras who was “adopted” into my aunt’s family and then later served as my district leader in my SoCal mission, chose to make a similar sacrifice. He could have easily received amnesty under the Hurricane Mitch provisions, but decided that he was unwillinging to affirmatively lie in order to do so. He ultimately returned to Honduras, and although he has an advantage over other Hondurenos because he speaks English fluently and received electronics training while still in the US, he and his family suffer much. Since he opened his own cell phone store two years ago, he has been robbed, at gunpoint, of his entire inventory THREE TIMES. The last time he was robbed, he was badly beaten and was left, tied up on the floor, for about 10 hours before anyone figured out what was going on. I live in fear everytime a call comes in from Honduras that his wife will be calling to say that he’s been killed.

    My point is that the decision to immigrate legally/illegally can be a life-death call, and given that the stakes are so high none of us has the right to condemn another’s decision. My friend made the choice that he felt was best for him, and you and your family made the choice that was best for you. I am in awe of both of you and the sacrifices you made. I don’t think if I were faced with the same circumstances that I could have made the same choices.

  129. Adam Greenwood on December 1, 2005 at 3:46 pm

    “My friend made the choice that he felt was best for him, and you and your family made the choice that was best for you.”

    Saying they made the choices that were “best for them” is an extraordinarily cheap way of describing it. The truth is that they went to heroic lengths to keep the law, and saying that we shouldn’t condemn illegals does not require us to say that people who suffer greatly so as not to be illegal are just following a personal whim.

  130. Mike W. on December 1, 2005 at 3:51 pm

    Mark B:

    He is not in the country. He is with his family in Paraguay. What is the time table for something like this? I know it’s not rapid. Are we taking weeks or months or years? They have pretty much become homeless over the last week.

  131. maria on December 1, 2005 at 3:56 pm


    If you don’t mind, I would still really like to hear some more details about how you and your family were able to navigate the immigration system legally (see #123).

    While I can’t refute your assertion that illegal immigrants have social/other resources assisting them in obtaining fraudulent documents, etc., I continue to believe (and don’t think that you have responded to) my assertion that the average 3rd world immigrant can possibly figure out how to immigrate legally. Access to other uneducated illegal immigrants living in the slums of SoCal is NOT the same thing as access to educated, financially progressing, legal residents.

  132. Legal on December 1, 2005 at 4:03 pm

    I had NO relatives in the United States when my family immigrated to the US. There is a US embassy in most capital cities of the countries from which immigrants legally come to these shores. I have known other legal immigrants from the French-, English- and Spanish- speaking Caribbean, various East and West African villages, deep in the Amazonia—all of whom know how to legally immigrate. And again, if they didn’t before, once they get here they find out and if they are obedient to the law they do what it takes to return to their countries and wait for a number to become available.

    I am not going to be any more transparent than I have already been. I am not on trial, and as you can imagine it is an emotional subject.

    But I’m not going to let people think (and this is a common belief) that the only way to immigrate is illegally, and that it is impossible for people to come here and stay here without breaking the law.

  133. Tara on December 1, 2005 at 4:16 pm

    Multiple times we were offered both jobs and “documents” by some friends who had access to an underground society located in Arizona. (We’re in Utah)

    If we’d taken that route, dh would’ve been making very good money and maybe our “legal” route would have been shorter.

    We were not comfortable however doing what was illegal, and so we have remained in hard circumstances, and yet feel our lives are better than our friends who have made different choices.

    It isn’t always about what you can have financially or even what food is on your table. Sometimes it just comes down to personal belief system, and whether or not you’re willing to starve or sacrifice for that. Some are, some aren’t – I don’t personally condemn anyone who isn’t because I know how hard an empty stomach makes life. For us, our decisions are based on our beliefs about the life to come, and the worst that could happen is we could die. I guess we just think that wouldn’t be too bad.

  134. maria on December 1, 2005 at 4:18 pm

    Okay, Adam, I’ve been trying to get you to answer this question for 131 responses now, but I’ll ask it directly here and now:

    You and your family live in abject poverty in a small village in Mexico. Public education is non-existent–you will have to pay the equivalent of a year’s manual labor salary for one child to attend a private school. Your village has only a doctor’s office that can provide rudimentary medical care. The doctor requires payment up front, even in life-threatening emergency situations. Crops have been bad for several years now–your meager harvest this year will probably only last your family a month, maybe two at best. Your children have already lost a lot of weight, and seem to constantly be sick due to poor nutrition, lack of medicine, etc. You know that if you travel to the U.S. you will immediately be able to get a job in a restaurant, working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, for five bucks an hour. You know that with that level of income you could provide food, clothing, and schooling for your children, and maybe even some money to get medicine for your elderly mother’s chronic asthma. But, to cross the border into the U.S. without the proper paperwork is illegal according to the laws of the U.S.

    This is your life, Adam Greenwood, and I’m asking you what you would do.

  135. Tara on December 1, 2005 at 4:20 pm

    And in our case? Dh and I were NOT planning on marriage when he first came to the states… we didn’t even see each other for the first 6 months he was here.

    He wanted a chance to learn some american skills, applied for a program that would allow him to come here to work, sold land that he had inherited in order to come up with the funds just to apply. That land had been in his family for generations. It took over a year before he was accepted into the program, and another 9 months before he actually had a visa. He spent his first 3 months in the states giving all his earned money back to the company to pay for his room and board and plane ticket.

    It can be done. I really don’t think we’re so different than so many people out there (like Legal) trying to just do the best they can.

  136. Mark B. on December 1, 2005 at 4:32 pm


    We’re talking years. If you were to start the process of labor certification today, you may be able to complete that step in five or six months, and then your people would have to wait until a visa number becomes available for them–right now visa numbers are available for people who filed for labor certification on or before 03/15/2001.

    On the other hand, a conference committee is working on a bill, probably this week, that would (1) make several previous years worth of unused visa numbers available, (2) only count the principal alien–the guy you want to employ–against the quota, and not his wife and children, (3) make it possible to apply for adjustment of status (and, presumably, obtain interim work authorization) as soon as labor certification is received, without having to wait for a visa number (this only works if the guy and his family have a visa that would permit them to enter the US now, such as a visitor visa).

    So, contact your congressman/woman, urge them to encourage the house conferees to support the senate version of the immigration amendment to the budget reconciliation bill. Do it now. Do not delay!

  137. maria on December 1, 2005 at 4:33 pm


    Again I want to say that I am incredibly impressed by people who have chosen to puruse immigration legally. But I just want to point out that unlike most immigrants, your husband had access to you, an obviously well-educated US citizen, who could not only earn some income for the family but also access government information, etc., because you grew up here and were at least somewhat familiar with “the way things work.”

  138. Mark B. on December 1, 2005 at 4:37 pm


    So, I’ll bite. If you had no family in the US, how did you obtain an immigrant visa?

    Employer sponsorship? If so, how did you find an employer willing to sponsor you while you were living abroad?

    Political asylum?

    Diversity visa lottery? If so, be grateful you’re not from Mexico, because no visa lottery numbers are available for Mexicans–and that’s based on the aggregate legal immigration from Mexico.

    Private legislation? If so, what senator do you know?

  139. maria on December 1, 2005 at 4:41 pm


    I’m sorry if it seems like I’m putting you on trial here. That is not my intent. I didn’t think you would mind my questions because in your initial posts you were pretty open about your family’s experience. I guess I’m just trying to understand where you are coming from, and why you feel so adamantly that you have made the superior choice.

  140. Tara on December 1, 2005 at 4:49 pm

    Maria -
    It is true that once we got married, dh and I both together went through the process.

    However, I was trying to point out that up until that time (which was almost two years after he was living here) I wasn’t around to help him – he did the work visa, the coming here, etc., all on his own. Literally.

  141. maria on December 1, 2005 at 4:52 pm

    But did your husband speak English? Was he literate? Had he attended school in Europe before coming to the US?

  142. Tara on December 1, 2005 at 4:59 pm

    He spoke limited english that he had taught himself from books. He grew up in communism, so he did have extensive schooling.

    I don’t claim to say europe is a 3rd world country or that it compares to your pueblo village.

    I do know others though who HAVE come from even worse circumstances than dh’s, and have had the same struggles and successes.

    Maria – please don’t feel I’m attacking you or even the choice of someone in a situation like you described. I don’t mean to say we’re better than others or more righteous or any such thing. I’m trying to emphasis that each person in life makes their choices based on what is most important to them. Being hungry or in need of medical attention certainly would be at the front of most minds. But to some, keeping their integrity is more important then physical needs. I don’t think it’s fair to belittle that or say that their sacrifices aren’t as sacrificial – and it seems a bit that you’re implying that. My dh has suffered unimaginably, and living with his nightmares, his heartaches, his losses makes me think he’s suffered as much as anyone should ever have to. I don’t think it’s fair to even compare suffering because people handle things different, and there’s no real way to judge which situation or suffering is “worse” when they can all be just so different.

  143. maria on December 1, 2005 at 5:22 pm


    I have never commented on your husband’s sacrifices, suffering, and pain. The only thing I have been commenting about is your husband’s access to resources that facilitate legal immigration.

    I am sure that you have both suffered much throughout this process, and I am sorry that you have had to go through it. Compound your experience across the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants across the country, and I just see a whole lot of unnecessary pain and anguish. U.S. immigration law is so depressing.

    Given that you and your husband have had to suffer through what sounds like years of bureaucratic run-around, what are your feelings about immigration law reform? Are there aspects of the process that you wish could be changed? If so, what?

  144. Adam Greenwood on December 1, 2005 at 5:29 pm

    I don’t see the point of your question, Maria. If you are trying to suggest that I should not condemn illegals, I agree. Show me where I have.

  145. maria on December 1, 2005 at 6:07 pm

    I just want to know what your thought process would be if you were faced with a similar situation, that’s all. Please enlighten me?

  146. Jason Johnson on December 1, 2005 at 6:19 pm

    I get a kick out of the idea that keeps popping up in this thread that we should simply choose to obey only those laws that we feel are just and ignore the rest.

    What was the name of that vietnam-vet right-wing libertarian guy that joined the Church and ran for President? Bo Grits, or Gritz or something. Anyway, he had a little problem with a law he felt was unjust and unconstitutional (the income tax), lost his temple reccomend (he was very open about this if I remember correctly) over it and eventually left the church. I doubt that those arguing that we should just ignore immigration law whould have much sympathy for him, but I fail to see the difference.

    I am glad to see that some people have finally brought in the issue of legal immigrants and where our toleration of Illegal immigration leaves them.

  147. Veritas on December 1, 2005 at 6:29 pm

    I don’t really think Tara’s circumstance, as hard as its been, really compares with the average Mexican that crosses the border in Arizona and nearly dies (well, often does die, actually) trying to get to Oxnard so he can pick strawberries so he can send 200 bucks a month home to his family in Oaxaca so his mal-nourished children can stay alive. His family has been oppressed for generations in Mexico, so he comes here where, while still being oppressed, he can earn enough money to feed his family.

    Your husband was educated, had money (inherited land), knew an educated American citizen whom he MARRIED…I mean if being “legal” has been so dramatically hard with so many resources availble to you that my Oaxacan friends would cut off their left arm for…well, maybe this can illustrate to you how IMPOSSIBLE it is for them to come legally. And guess what? You need him here. (Unless your master-degree totin DH wants to take up back-breaking labor for LESS than minimum wage.)

  148. Adam Greenwood on December 1, 2005 at 6:43 pm

    *Why* do you want to know the thought process, Maria? Is it because you think it has some relation to the question I posed in the original post? If so, explain yourself, cuz I don’t see it. Is it because you are truly perplexed by the question and see me as a source of particular wisdom and insight? I don’t really see that either.

  149. Kaimi Wenger on December 1, 2005 at 6:52 pm

    I suspect that Adam would be as likely as anyone else to seek his fortunes north of the border. However, I can sympathize with his reluctance to answer a stacked hypothetical. And I don’t see that a hypothetical choice he would make as a campesino necessarily invalidates his beliefs as an American citizen.

    After all, an equally stacked hypothetical could easily be crafted regarding a small-time farmer in Douglas, Arizona who sees his land constantly overrun by incoming border crossers.

    It is perfectly consistent to hold one set of beliefs in one set of circumstances and another in different circumstances. If I were a long-time German or a Japanese citizen during World War II, I probably would have fought the Americans with all my might. If I were an American soldier, I would have done the opposite. The fact that I would do different things and believe different things if situated differently does not invalidate my beliefs given my present circumstances.

    (That said, I’ve noted in the past that I think that our draconian immigration laws are bad. My own substantive views aside, however, I don’t think it’s fair to Adam to try to catch him in a rhetorically dubious game of “gotcha.”)

  150. Veritas on December 1, 2005 at 6:52 pm

    She wants you to walk a mile in their shoes, bro, and then think about turning someone in…..

  151. Kaimi Wenger on December 1, 2005 at 6:54 pm

    Hmm — that came out a little too harsh. I don’t know that anyone is in fact trying to catch Adam in a gotcha. However, that’ is one way in which his answer _could_ be used against him, and he’s doubtless aware of that possibility — which accounts for his reluctance.

  152. Mathew on December 1, 2005 at 7:25 pm

    #146 Jason Johnson,

    One very big difference is that tax evasion is a felony and illegal immigration is usually a misdemeanor. Another big difference, as far as the church is concerned, is that the church will sometimes pull a temple recommend for tax evasion, but has very publicly said that it would not deny illegal immigrants in the U.S. temple recommends because of their legal status.

    #144 Adam Greenwood,
    “If you are trying to suggest that I should not condemn illegals, I agree. Show me where I have.”

    OK, how about here:

    “illegal immigration really riles me. If this country starting cracking down on it, I’d cheer. And likely as not, in a particular kind of duty-mood, I might report it if I discovered some illegals.”

    Uh, what do you call that if not condemnation? Condemnation: an expression of strong disapproval; pronouncing as wrong or morally culpable.

  153. maria on December 1, 2005 at 7:36 pm

    I promise I’m not trying to paint anyone into a corner here. I guess I’m just hoping that Adam, and others who contemplate turning in undocumented immigrants to the gov’t (whether the immigrants be members of the church or not), take a moment or two to ponder the difficult decisions that are made by immigrants who choose to come to the U.S. Perhaps a moment of introspection might lead someone to less harshly judge their neighbor.

    And (Adam #144), yes, I think that reporting an immigrant to the authorities is a very real form of condemnation, a condemnation that could result in that immigrant’s death, or the death of one of her loved ones.

  154. maria on December 1, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    Yeah…what Mat said.

  155. maria on December 1, 2005 at 7:39 pm

    Hey Veritas–do I know you? I served in Oxnard the first 6 months…

  156. Veritas on December 1, 2005 at 7:46 pm

    Well, lets just say I’m closely related to someone who was district leader in Oxnard, than later AP…but I relish in our sort-of anonymity (I can’t spell).

  157. maria on December 1, 2005 at 8:05 pm

    You’re killing me Veritas…will you tell me the years that this AP was on his mission? I was there 1998-2000.

  158. SiblingRevelry on December 1, 2005 at 8:56 pm

    So, if there are some people here who feel comfortable with turning in Brother Undocumented to the feds, what about reporting on Brother Contractor who is also breaking the law by hiring Brother Undocumented?

    It’s a two-way street. If you want to enforce the already-existing immigration laws, they have to be enforced all around. Nobody wants to talk about the employer side of the immigration fiasco, because it wouldn’t be prudent. But if there weren’t employers who were hiring undocumented workers, and making a point of doing so, why then should we be surprised that there are people who are quite willing to do the work?

    I think that if the law was enforced all around, we wouldn’t have nearly the problem we have now. But, as I said above, the political will is not there.

  159. Stirling on December 1, 2005 at 9:08 pm

    Legal Immigrant,
    You’re argument seems to be, “I’ve been granted residency status after following a legal process, so I know it can be done and anyone who chooses to come to the U.S. without papers and without following the lengthy process I did is (to quote you), “extremely dishonest,” “unfair,” “incredibly disingenuous,” “insiduous” and a “cheat.”

    From my perspective, you are ignoring the the reality that our economic system significantly relies and encourages the work of undocumented immigrants, and that tens of thousands of these immigrants come here because the desire to provide food for one’s family (or money for schooling or hospital bills, etc.) is a powerful thing. , AND that the vast majority of these immigrants have no or little chance of receiving formal permission to come to work. You did get that chance. You, in effect, won a lottery that they never will.

    I welcome you to the U.S. I’m glad you’re here. But instead of condemning those who didn’t win the lottery, why not focus on your own good fortune?

    I live in Utah, and IMHO, it’s a much better place over the last 15 years because of the significant increase in undocumented workers from Mexico, Central America, Brasil, Argentina, etc.
    I don’t consider it unethical for an undocumented Mexican to enter the U.S. and find work. Yes, on the one hand there is a law against it, but on the other hand, there is an economic system that encourages and significantly benefits from that activity.

    [Note to self, don't make the argument that in the 1848 the U.S. went to war and stole the upper half of Mexico (including CA, AZ, NM, and parts of CO, UT, NV), so it seems only fair to be extra flexible in working with our neighbors to the south].

  160. Mark B. on December 1, 2005 at 9:22 pm

    I think that if we enforced the state laws on the books that outlaw fornication or adultery, we wouldn’t have nearly the problem we have now.

    And if Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats had been been elected president in 1948, then we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.

  161. Veritas on December 1, 2005 at 10:54 pm

    maria – ok…:) my husband (Elder Davis) was there from 99-2001 – he was AP in summer of 2001. He was DL in Oxnard prolly late 99? I’ll have to ask for exact dates…he was in east Bakes for a long time too. he was spanish of course :) He wants me to ask who you are too (of course).

  162. Kaimi Wenger on December 2, 2005 at 12:28 am

    The church will deny a recommend for failure to pay taxes? Hmm — that’s not part of the recommend interview last time I looked.

    Is that story legit, or is it some kind of Mormon urban legend?

  163. Tim J. on December 2, 2005 at 12:36 am

    “The church will deny a recommend for failure to pay taxes?”

    If they are convicted of tax-evasion it is a felony. Conviction of ANY felony results in church discipline which usually (if not always) leads to excommunication.

  164. Julie M. Smith on December 2, 2005 at 12:51 am

    Mark B. in #160–

    Please, please, please tell me you were joking.

  165. Kaimi Wenger on December 2, 2005 at 2:09 am

    Tim J.,

    That’s interesting. I wonder when that policy began.

  166. Mark B. on December 2, 2005 at 9:47 am


    How could anyone joke about anything as serious as Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond?

  167. Adam Greenwood on December 2, 2005 at 11:03 am

    Ms. Maria and Mr. Matt, comments #152-53

    You’re making a mistake that’s common among liberal thinkers of various stripes. You think that my disliking illegal immigration, and feeling that under some circumstances I might have a duty to act against it, MUST MEAN that I morally condemn individual illegal immigrants.

    You are just wrong.

    Now, I don’t think that illegal immigration is an entirely innocent act, but as Ms. Maria points out, the economic reasons and family pressures for doing so are strong enough–and the laws are remote enough from oneself and one’s community–that it’s close to being an innocent act. Some heroes like Legal Immigrant might stick to these ‘foreign’ laws, but we can’t expect everyone to be punctiliously a hero.

    So what? God looketh on the heart, but man looketh outwardly. Which is to say that God cares about sin and the subjective man but we have to concern ourselves to some degree with the objective effects of things, whether sinful or not. Plenty of rank-and-file Confederates at Bloody Angle were fighting, admirably, to protect their homes and their families, and I imagine God will honor them for it when they appear before his throne, but if I was a boy in blue I would still be stabbing with my bayonet, and I would be right. I screamed at my little daughter when she tried to run out on the road; she had no malice or culpable intent. I just fought hard in a trial but I don’t think the other side was evil, far from it. Now illegals are confederates or children or employees of a company on the other side. But the general point is true. A person can oppose illegal immigration without thinking that illegals are morally blameworthy people.

  168. b bell on December 2, 2005 at 11:21 am

    I have been following this with interest. I am not arguing the issue just making an observation

    Based on my experinces in middle class American wards I would have to say that the majority opinion here on this thread is out of touch with the average middle class LDS opinion on illegal immigration. Its actually quite striking how out of touch to me.

    It goes to show that I feel that the Bloggernacle in general is out of touch politically with the average middle class American Mormon.

    In everything from SSM, Abortion, illegal immigration, political affiliation etc. The Bloggernacle is far far to the left of the average American LDS. So far I am afraid that they would be on the fringe politically in every unit I have ever lived in. Not that politics really ever comes up that much on Sunday.

    What does this mean? Not really sure but it is fun to debate with y’all.

  169. Adam Greenwood on December 2, 2005 at 11:29 am

    B. Bell,

    People on the fringes have a lot more incentive to come on the internet to justify themselves and find reassurances from the likeminded. Whereas folks like you and I just have no excuse.

  170. maria on December 2, 2005 at 11:41 am

    Adam, thanks for the clarification. Perhaps I read too much into your contemplation of turning someone in for something that is, in your own words, “close to being an innnocent act.” The way I see it, if you’re willing to ruin someone’s life (possibly end someone’s life) for something that is “close to being an innocent act,” you must have some sort of underlying moral disapproval of that person. But again, I guess I have been reading too much into what you originally wrote (and then refrained from clarifying during the later discussion).

    I do think, however, that it’s a little inappropriate to try to turn this into a liberal/conservative debate. My husband, whom I’ve mentioned at other points is a staunch Republican, feels exactly the same way that I do about this topic, as do many other “conservatives” within the Republican party (i.e. Jorge Bush, Hijo).

    Moving on, could you also please clarify for me under what types of circumstances you “might have a duty to act against” illegal immigrants?

  171. maria on December 2, 2005 at 11:46 am


    Is your husband Devin Davis? If so, he knows me quite well. But the dates seemed a little off for him to be Devin Davis.

    Hmm….how do I reveal my identity to you without revealing it to anyone else? Let’s just say that I am NOT Hermana Ollivier, Hull, Higley, Hatfield, Lyman, Paxton, or Murri, but those ladies were all my companions (this shouldn’t be too hard to figure out because there were only 8 hermanas in the mission at most times). I served in Oxnard, Bakes, and SantaB, in that order.

  172. maria on December 2, 2005 at 11:49 am

    Oh, and lots of the members in the mission called me “Hermana Ban”–although that isn’t my real name.

  173. b bell on December 2, 2005 at 11:58 am


    I am thinking about sliding back into my cocoon of like minded conservatives in my ward in TX. Just kidding. The church is about 80-20 repub. What is different in ther bloggernacle is that the 20% feel freer to express there legit opinions and not shackled by the social pressures of a conservative church.

    I like the debate here though or I would take my ball and go home.

  174. Adam Greenwood on December 2, 2005 at 11:58 am

    “The way I see it, if you’re willing to ruin someone’s life (possibly end someone’s life) for something that is “close to being an innocent act,â€? you must have some sort of underlying moral disapproval of that person.”

    Care to respond to any of the actual examples I gave, Ms. Maria? You think, for example, that a Union soldier couldn’t bayonet a Confederate unless he thought the Confederate personally approved of slavery and was subjectively and morally speaking guilty of sin in fighting? The principle you’re advocating here is bizarre and I don’t see how you could possibly mean it. For one thing, your belief would require that no one should immigrate to this country unless they’re convinced that either (1) they won’t take a job away from anyone or (2) the people they do take the job away from are morally bad somehow.

    “under what types of circumstances you “might have a duty to act againstâ€? illegal immigrants?”

    If our society took ending illegal immigration seriously, then I think I might have a duty to report instances of immigration law-breaking that I knew about. I am a citizen of this country; I am not an liberty to pick and choose which laws I support. There may be laws so evil that civil disobedience is justified, but restrictions on immigration are not among them, in my opinion.

  175. b bell on December 2, 2005 at 12:02 pm


    You are wrong. Check the polls I posted earlier. Illegal immigration is widely opposed by a large majority in the US.

    There is a element of liberal elitism that is running thru this thread.

  176. SiblingRevelry on December 2, 2005 at 12:08 pm

    b bell – what about the employers who hire said illegal immigrants? I am not a betting person, but I would not be surprised at all to find out that there are employers in this heavily Mormon area of Arizona who have hired illegal immigrants and continue to do so. What about those *employers*?

    This liberal wants to know why business is cosseted when they’re half the problem.

  177. b bell on December 2, 2005 at 12:14 pm


    I fully support enforcing all the laws on employers as well. In fact I think they should be tightened up. Here is how I see it. Last month walmart was busted somewhere on the east coast. I was happy about that.

    The repubs want the cheap labor
    Dems want more voters

    So until now nothing is done. Bush wanted the Hispanic vote (he got 40%) and was/is afraid to offend. Bush has been ignoring his base at his own peril.

    Middle class America is ignored as the polls really favor clamping down on this issue.

    Thats it.

  178. Marc Bohn on December 2, 2005 at 12:15 pm

    “In everything from SSM, Abortion, illegal immigration, political affiliation etc. The Bloggernacle is far far to the left of the average American LDS. So far I am afraid that they would be on the fringe politically in every unit I have ever lived in. Not that politics really ever comes up that much on Sunday.”

    b bell – I have been in wards in several states all across the U.S. and I completely disagree. I would say there are a great deal of members that aren’t as invested in or as informed about many of the issues being discussed here as those participating in this discussion. Your post makes an large assumption that is nothing more than conjecture. A more appropriate comparison might be to something like the BYU Political Science department. On this smaller scale, I would say the diversity of views presented here reflect more or less the diversity of opinion in that department (which, I believe, is comprised entirely of LDS members).

  179. Marc Bohn on December 2, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    Futhermore B Bell… I’ve been in wards from Virginia to Utah and your description does not reflect my experience.

  180. b bell on December 2, 2005 at 12:34 pm

    Here is the exit poll data from 04. Lets stop with the opinions shall we? I would never compare a political science department at any university even BYU with the general population.

    Go to page 59. Its about 80-20 in the LDS church Repub. It has been since the 1960′s

  181. Adam Greenwood on December 2, 2005 at 12:41 pm

    Don’t let facts get in the way of anecdotes, B. Bell. Shame.

  182. maria on December 2, 2005 at 12:43 pm

    Adam 174,

    I don’t really think the Confederate example applies because that would be a situation in which one had to either kill the other person or be killed themselves. I would not disapprove of turning in an illegal immigrant if you had to act imminently to preserve your own life or the life of your family. But I can’t really imagine a realistic scenario under which that would occur.

    “Your belief would require that no one should immigrate to this country unless they’re convinced that either (1) they won’t take a job away from anyone or (2) the people they do take the job away from are morally bad somehow.”

    I am COMPLETELY confused by this statement and am wondering if you could back up a few steps and explain how you arrived at that conclusion. Maybe it’s because I’ve been up all night working on my paper, but I’m just not following what you’re saying.

  183. Mathew on December 2, 2005 at 12:44 pm


    Will you please drop the blanket references to “liberal paragons” and “liberal thinkers of various stripes.” I doubt they accurately describe the people they are directed at and liberals may be insulted to hear my name associated with them. In addition, as far as I can tell while it is currently in vogue in certain circles to point to supposedly uniquely liberal errors in logic, thinkers of various stripes, be they libertarian, liberal, conservative or what have you, make the same mistakes–albeit when propounding their favored viewpoint.

    But there is nothing illogical in concluding from the words you actually used (not the ones you are using now as you recast your position) that you morally condemn illegal immigrants. If you contemplate turning people in to the authorities, knowing full well the havoc that would create in their individual and families’ life (including the family members who rely on remittances in the land of their origin) then you are condemning (see definition above) individual illegal immigrants (individuals–you know, the ones’ whose lives were just thrown into chaos). Your claim that while you might turn someone in you attach no moral condemnation to him/her is bizarre. You have repeatedly used the descriptive noun “illegals” thereby failing to separate the person from the action–the very definition of morally condemning the person. Further, when deciding whether it is appropriate to turn an illegal immigrant in to the authorities, you make a moral judgment about the importance of two competing values–adherence to the letter of the law (even when the law is malum prohibitum and its non-enforcement a political solution to a thorny problem) or allowing a person to continue his/her struggle to gain a toehold in American society. You can’t ignore the moral dimension to this judgment and you can’t pretend to separate the judgment from the person because the consequences of your moral judgment so greatly impact the person.

    But if it were true that you truly don’t morally condemn illegal immigrants, you would seem to be in a worse position. At least with moral condemnation you had a principle to hide behind. Now you have acknowledged that illegal immigration is not a serious crime (“close to an innocent act”) but have not recanted considering reporting the crime–which leaves you with a position something like this: While I do not morally condemn individual illegal immigrants, I would consider turning them in although I consider illegal immigration close to an innocent act. I’m not stupid, so I know what turning them in would serious disrupt their family, church, social and economic structure.

    A person who would do that is a snitch in the worst sense.

    Either way, given what you have written, I believe that if you were to turn an illegal immigrant into the authorities, you would be much more morally blameworthy than the immigrant whose life you so callously chose to meddle in.

  184. Marc Bohn on December 2, 2005 at 12:47 pm

    b bell: Your post said nothing about Republican-Democrat, and I think these issues are more nuanced than that. You said that the bloggernacle “far far to the left of the average American LDS”, that is a pretty loaded statement that goes far beyond a simply Republican-Democrat make-up. As pointed out earlier, there is a wide range of views on these issues within both parties, with overlap to go around. I brought up the BYU Poli Sci department as an entity that was more comparable because it was all LDS, generally more informed about these issues than your average ward member, and is a department I’m pretty familiar with.

  185. maria on December 2, 2005 at 12:48 pm

    “If our society took ending illegal immigration seriously, then I think I might have a duty to report instances of immigration law-breaking that I knew about.”

    Okay, I can see that under such a situation that you describe, it would be a much more difficult decision to make. But that’s NOT the current climate, and yet you’re already contemplating turning people in.

  186. b bell on December 2, 2005 at 1:04 pm


    Repub equals right and dem equals left in a general terms. There CAN be overlap on certain issues etc. I stand by my comments and feel that the exit poll data backs me up.

    I saw a thread on here from the “permabloggers” here at T&C in 04 and a majority of the permabloggers were voting for Kerry. By definition that would put them to the left of the average LDS as proven by the exit poll data.

    Ask Adam or Matt E. both conservatives which way they think the bloggernacle tilts. Its obvious to me which is what makes it so much fun. Where else can I even find mormon liberals to debate with? There is only one in my ward that I am aware of. He will not discuss politics at all

  187. D-Train on December 2, 2005 at 1:04 pm


    At this point, the size of the thread probably precludes meaningful discussion, but I’ll bite on the representativeness issue. As for immigration, I’ll just talk about that elsewhere.

    You’re not comparing BYU profs to the general population. You’re comparing BYU profs to the bloggernacle population, which you adamantly describe as different from the general LDS population initially. The reason that Marc Bohn suggests BYU profs is because the following assumptions are made about the bloggernacle: significantly more educated than standard LDS (look at the permabloggers, for heaven’s sake. I can’t think of even one that isn’t at least a college graduate), more interested in semi-intellectual debate of issues related to the LDS community, and conveniently connected to the internet. All of these things mean that comparing the bloggernacle to the general population is pretty sketchy.

    Now, this is exactly the point that you made, so I’m not trying to invent a disagreement. My argument is simply that Marc is correct in asserting that comparing us to the average ward is not an exercise with a great deal of utility. I’m not sure that you’re on firm ground in trying to dismiss people that are, based on their comments, only somewhat left of center as extremists that don’t fit in. The liberal arguments made on this thread and elsewhere are not representative of LDS thought, but neither are the conservative positions. Both are more intellectual and more considered than the average position of most LDS. I mean that not to denigrate the less educated LDS population, but simply to point out that nothing that’s going on here is representative, regardless of political ideology.

  188. JCP on December 2, 2005 at 1:08 pm

    b bell:

    While I agree with some of the claims you make here, your use of the exit poll document is highly misleading.

    1. The estimate of the Mormon vote for Bush is subject to an enormous error. See the discussion on p. 62 of the report. For reasons too lengthy to summarize here, I’m sure that there is a greater likelihood of oversampling Mormon Republicans (or Mormon votes for Bush, see point 3 below).

    2. Given the problems associated with getting an accurate national sample, there is simply no way you could be sure about the percentage of Mormons who are voting Republican since the 1960s. It is difficult to be sure about the number in 2004.

    3. You’re confusing being a Republican with voting for Bush. There are vital distinctions between those concepts.

    I am all for using data to combat anecdotes. But when you assert facts that are unsupported by the data, you aren’t doing anyone a service.

  189. b bell on December 2, 2005 at 1:22 pm


    I have to disagree. There are other studies on Mormon political affiliation out there that jive with the 80-20. Go ahead and look them up.

    D-train is right that this is not your average group of LDS on T&C. He made some good points. My point is that I feel that in addition to being more educated than the average it is also more liberal than the average.

  190. Mathew on December 2, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    b bell,

    Most church members are outside the United States. Your experinces in middle class American wards may not be representative.

  191. Adam Greenwood on December 2, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    I’m sorry, Mathew, #183. I can explain my position for you but I can’t comprehend it for you. If you just don’t get that rightly we do things all the time to other people regardless of whether they’re personally morally blameworthy or not, I don’t know what to say. But perhaps before you start talking about how morally blameworthy I am, you should try harder to comprehend my position.

    I think you’re making a mistake by seizing on the one Confederate example and ignoring the larger point, but even there, you’re wrong. The boys in blue were the attackers at Bloody Angle. It wasn’t self-defense. The Confederates were on one side of a parapet and the Union troops on another. Union soldiers would sign their own death-warrants by jumping up on the parapet, taking loaded rifles their comrades handed up, firing down into the Confederate crowd, and them hurling the rifle with its bayonet down into the crowd, one after another, all as fast as they could, until the Confederates shot them down in turn. There was no self-defense about it. They were trying to win, not to preserve their lives. Is it your position that this was a morally praiseworthy thing to do, but only if the soldier was convinced that the Confederates he was shooting were slave-supporters? OK, let’s go back a bit further into the life of that soldier, at the point when he joined up.. Service in the Union Army was largely voluntary–even towards the end of the war, a middle class person could avoid service if they chose. Are you saying that it would be wrong to volunteer unless you were convinced that most of the Confederates you were fighting supported slavery? If I was opposed to slavery and loved the Union, could I still fight even if I thought most of the Confederates I would be killing were just fighting to protect their families from invaders and I therefore did not condemn them? What about Abraham Lincoln–as far as I can tell, he never really condemned the South, especially its common people–yet he waged war on them. Was he a monster?

    Bosses sometimes fire people. Is it only right to do this if the bosses condemn the person they fire as a sinner? My drill sergeant treated me like crud, but he didn’t condemn me as a sinner. I think he actually kind of liked me. Was he just an idiot, therefore? Forest Service folks out here run ranchers off grazing land that’s been in the rancher’s family for generations. They don’t condemn the ranchers–fact is, many would admit that justice is on the rancher’s side. But the law says otherwise. Are the Forest Service folks wrong? I have no idea how you can think this at all.

    “Okay, I can see that under such a situation that you describe, it would be a much more difficult decision to make. But that’s NOT the current climate, and yet you’re already contemplating turning people in” if the climate changes. Is there some sort of rule that, in a climate where our country’s lack of enforcement of immigration laws is becoming an issue, we’re not allowed to think about how we might act if our country started enforcing them? I was hitherto unaware of this moral rule and, granted that you have now brought it to my attention, am still not wholly convinced that its right?

  192. DavidH on December 2, 2005 at 1:36 pm


    I don’t think the position of people on immigation easily fits in the liberal/conservative spectrum. The Wall Street Journal supports more open borders, President Bush does too, as do other notorious left wing liberals like Congressman Jeff Flake, former executive at the Goldwater Institute.

  193. b bell on December 2, 2005 at 1:42 pm

    It fits into it for middle America.

    The elites though have a different opinion than the average american. Again. Check the polls.

    See my previous post about the repub leadership wanting cheap workers and the Dems wanting more voters.

    Bush is way off from his conservative base on his guest worker plan.

  194. JCP on December 2, 2005 at 1:42 pm

    b bell:

    I write quite a bit about public opinion, and I’ve always thought that I know the literature reasonably well. I am unfamiliar with the studies that you suggest exist (but do not cite). For instance, recently I was looking at the Voter News Service exit polls collected over several decades. The option “Mormon” was often not even included on the exit poll questionnaire. And when it was included, the measure obviously suffered from the measurement error and selection bias problems I cite above.

    Even if the question was included, we still could not uncritically accept this measure as a depiction of Mormon opinion, and certainly not as solid time series on Mormon ideology (or Republicanism, which is it?).

    I am sure that the average Mormon is more conservative in some ways than the average American citizen. But we don’t know by how much, or on what issues, or have a very clear sense of the shape of that national LDS distribution of opinion. Please either cite some evidence or do not assert that we do know these things.

  195. Adam Greenwood on December 2, 2005 at 1:49 pm

    David H.,
    if you’re arguing that *not all* Republicans oppose more immigration, you’re right. But if you are arguing that there’s not an identifiable overlap between certain immigration opinions and Republican affiliation, you’re wrong. Grass-roots Republicans in general have pretty strong views. conservative talk radio has been boiling over about it. The National Review and the Weekly Standard have devoted considerable space to generally immigration-restricting views. The Nation hasn’t. I agree, though, that its an issue that resonates with more than just Republicans.

  196. DavidH on December 2, 2005 at 1:50 pm


    This piece from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (reposted on Light Planet), by Professor David Magleby of BYU, states that 69% of Mormons in Utah are republican. So, at least in the late 1990s, even in Utah it was not an 80-20 split. Apart from the vote for Bush in 2004, what other sources do you have for the purported 80-20 split since the 1960s?

    My recollection (as a person who voted for W in 2000, but for Kerry in 2004) was that a minority of posters on this board were voting for Kerry. (If you compiled a count of posters or permabloggers, I would be interested in seeing the compilation) I suspect that many who support more open borders on this thread also voted for Bush.

  197. Mathew on December 2, 2005 at 1:54 pm

    Adam Greenwood wrote:

    “I can explain my position for you but I can’t comprehend it for you. If you just don’t get that rightly we do things all the time to other people regardless of whether they’re personally morally blameworthy or not, I don’t know what to say.”

    I understand you position. The key word, however, is “rightly.” You aren’t “rightly” doing something to another person when you seriously disrupt his/her life when you do not consider them morally blameworthy AND consider the act you oppose to be “close to an innocent act.” That’s kind of like me making you move your family to New York because I saw you speeding in Arizona.

  198. DavidH on December 2, 2005 at 1:59 pm


    I was speaking of liberals versus conservatives. At least among libertarian leaning conservatives, like Congressman Flake and the Wall Street Journal, favoring more open borders is quite common. And even among some social conservatives, like many Catholic voters, pro-immigration feelings are more common.

    Adam and bbell,

    The Church’s position seems to be pro-immigration (it is certainly not anti-immigration). The Church does not withhold recommends, callings, ordinations, or membership from undocumented workers. For three decades it permitted undocumented aliens to serve missions. If the legislation it requests is enacted, they may be able to serve again. I believe Utah is one of the few states that provided drivers licenses to undocumented aliens.

    Are the Brethren out of touch with the grass roots membership? Is the overwhelmingly republican Utah legislature out of touch with the grass root constituency?

  199. Adam Greenwood on December 2, 2005 at 2:11 pm

    Any thoughts on the numerous examples I’ve suggested? Are you really saying that we should never act detrimentally to someone’s interests unless we are convinced that they deserve it because of their immoral choices? Are you really saying that no American can think the immigration laws should be enforced unless they think the immigrants themselves are sinners?

  200. Adam Greenwood on December 2, 2005 at 2:14 pm

    DavidH–so you think the Church giving callings to people regardless of their immigration status is tantamount to an official statement that the country should not enforce its immigration laws, or even that it favors Open Borders? I disagree. I think the country should enforce its immigration laws, but that wouldn’t stop me from extending callings and things like that. That’s the point I was making in the original post.

  201. DavidH on December 2, 2005 at 2:37 pm


    I am glad you support allowing undocumented aliens to participate in the Church, that you serve and love undocumented aliens, and that you would, except in unusual circumstances, probably never turn one in to the authorities. Presumably you would not be comfortable with an immediate, mass, forcible deportation of 8 to 11 million undocumented aliens, with accompanying abandonment or firesales of their property here. Does that make you a bleeding heart liberal softy? If so, welcome to the club!

  202. eteMathew on December 2, 2005 at 2:47 pm


    I’m referring to the specific example you gave in your original post. We aren’t discussing the proposition generally, but as applied to a specific set of facts. As to your third sentence, as you know, American’s are free to think what they want, so no, I’m not saying that no American can think [fill in the blank].

    One of the things that I have been saying is that if you do not consider an illegal immigrant morally blameworthy/deserving of moral condemnation (all your words) and see illegal immigration as close to an innocent act (all your words) but likely as not might report an illegal immigrant if in a duty-mood (all your words), then you are a [ deleted].

  203. Mark B. on December 2, 2005 at 2:51 pm

    The anti-immigrant scaremongers run the gamut, from the pompous wanna-be omniscient Lou Dobbs to the pompous I’m more obnoxious than you could ever want to be Bill O’Reilly to the it’s my country, g*******it, I stole it fair and square Tom Tancredo.

    Those who favor substantial reform of the current mess, with appropriate acknowledgement of the millions who have lived here for years even without papers, run the gamut from the conservative Christopher Cannon and Jeff Flake (or is he true to his name and clan, just a flake) to moderates like John McCain to pointy-headed liberals like Ted Kennedy.

    There’s nothing about immigration policy generally that is either conservative or liberal. Unless you define conservative to mean making the US into what you think it might have been before they let all the “bad” element in.

    I agree though that calling these folks “illegals” simply objectifies those who are our “brothers and sisters” as Adam points out in the title of this thread.

  204. Adam Greenwood on December 2, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    Comparing folks who are against illegal immigration to Nazis killing the Jews will not be tolerated. I’ve deleted the offending comments in their entirety.

    I’m temporarily suspending more comments to allow passions to cool. If you need to add something right away while you’re thinking about it, email it to me at adam at timesandseasons dot org.

  205. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2005 at 2:13 pm

    All right, kids. Comment away. Keep it civil.

  206. comet on December 4, 2005 at 8:38 am

    How can a law-abiding church fail to condemn illegal practices within To avoid moral hazard. To lobby for laws that will reflect the institutional realities of the church. If this issue has exposed a
    contradiction in church policy (at least until legislation gets passed), between an institutional reality (faithful undocumented workers in the kingdom) and the desire to be (and be seen as) law-abiding and principled (in an often a kind of ), I think we can see the church coming down on the side of loyalty to its fast-growing segment of new members, rather than whatever interests serve to underwrite immigration law as it currently stands. Why send a chill through the promising ranks of investigators and their families here in the US and elsewhere? The contradiction is real but superficial. Are we uncomfortable that the church sometimes acts on the basis of its institutional self-interest, like much of the rest of the world?The church has enough goodwill to weather this crisis in its sense of “law-abidingness” is at stake in the way church and its members understand themselves

  207. comet on December 4, 2005 at 8:48 am

    Sorry…slippery fingers!

    How can a law-abiding church fail to condemn illegal practices within its ranks? Institutional realities. Why Bennet’s legislation efforts? To avoid moral hazard. To lobby for laws that will reflect the institutional realities of the church. If this issue has exposed a
    contradiction in church policy (at least until legislation gets passed), between an institutional reality (faithful undocumented workers in the kingdom) and the desire to be (and be seen as) law-abiding and principled (in an often a kind of ), I think we can see the church coming down on the side of loyalty to its fast-growing segment of new members, rather than whatever interests serve to underwrite immigration law as it currently stands. Why send a chill through the promising ranks of investigators and their families here in the US and elsewhere? The contradiction is real but superficial but I think the church has enough goodwill to weather this crisis in its sense of “law-abidingness.�
    BTW Are we uncomfortable that the church sometimes acts on the basis of its institutional self-interest, like much of the rest of the world?

  208. Jettboy on December 4, 2005 at 1:18 pm

    Well, I must say that this issue has made me decide that if I knew someone was an illegal immigrant I would turn them in regardless of religion. This is partly because I don’t believe it is equal to speeding, but more closely related to an invasion and act of war; although not necessarily the same thing. In fact, if I learned someone was an illegal alien I would neither baptise or give a calling to that person. I have never been in that situation that I know of, but my feelings are set! Now, the question would be what consiquences it would have for me to refuse. Does anyone know what has happened to someone who has refused a baptism or ordination? Is there eclesiatical reprimanding or simply passing the responsibility? At any rate, I would turn them in to the authorities as enemies of national security.

    Now, I am not against changing the law to make it easier to legally enter the U.S. (although a blanket allowance is NOT an option I will accept). However, until we find a way to make it easier for immigrants to enter legally and protect the already legal citizens at the same time, than I want a moritorium on immigration other than with very strict visas.

    My own opinion about the actions of the Church? Perhaps they should rethink how they do religious business until the laws change. In the past I can see how they could turn a blind eye as everyone else seems to have done the same and made immigration law into no-law. Currently, however, that is not the case and the Church should start following the law.

  209. maren on December 4, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    Wow, Merry Christmas and good will to everyone. What a horrible thread, and what great opinions. Sorry for the sarcasm, but I feel that this whole thing is horrible. Maybe I am just too much on one side. My husband is a legal immigrant. He came here on a work Visa. He left his family and everything that he knew because he had the opportunity to make sure that his mother and his siblings had enough money to survive. I don’t think he wanted to leave them, and I know he is homesick more often than he admits. He is now married to me, an American Citizen. We endured people feeling that we were getting married for the wrong reasons. Because of strict immigration laws and the fear of illegal immigration, his family was denied the opportunity to come see him get married. We cannot leave the country until his green card comes, so he has not seen his family in three years. He is taxed in his pay check, just like all of us. He pays money to the government that does not represent him, and he does not complain. He considers it a blessing to be here. It is a tragedy that even illegal immigrants working in horrible conditions for under the table pay are better off here than in their home lands. How can we consider ourselves Christian when we have attitudes such as this? Just because we were lucky enough to be born here. All of us sometime or another came from an immigrant, unless of course you are Native American. Then you belong here, except for the fact that a bunch of european immigrants decided to take all of your land away and compensate you by giving you a “reservation”. God Bless America. I am ashamed to know that people feel this way. I guess it would be better for all the immigrants to stay in their own countries and work in factories making things that will be sent to us, so we can purchase things cheaply and they can continue to starve. At least we will keep our discounts, right? I am so proud to say I belong to a Christian, non judgemental religion.

  210. Wilfried on December 4, 2005 at 9:19 pm

    Thank you, maren. We need to reconfirm that basic human message. I have not followed the thread in detail, but was struck by the last comments and the painful dichotomy they express. I am just happy I can follow the guidelines of the Church in this one, and those are clear. I quote from that article, which first cites the Catholic standpoint – and we’re in agreement with Rome (!):

    The Catholic Church is among several denominations to espouse views on immigration policy. Noting it does not condone illegal immigration, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops called upon federal policymakers to reform the laws to uphold basic dignity and human rights of immigrants and preserve family unity. The Most Rev. George Niederauer, who heads the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, says the church does not, however, draw up legislation. “That is the work of the federal government,” he said. Bishop Niederauer noted hypocrisy in the mixed message the United States sends south of the border: “We will do everything we can to keep you out, but if you make it in, we have a job for you.” The Catholic Church does not distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants in its parishes. It considers those who believe and live the faith as Catholics. “We’re not a branch of the U.S. government,” he said.

    The LDS Church has no formal position on illegal immigration. “We leave those matters to civil authorities,” spokesman Dale Bills said. “This isn’t the church’s issue,” said Elder Pingree, who served as a mission president in Mexico City. “This is the government’s issue.”

  211. Antonio on December 5, 2005 at 8:57 am

    Why did the saints build Utah? What was this state for? Was Utah meant to be an American state? With kind of government was intented for Utah? What kind of people was to be raised?

    Because of federal pressure and persecution, the Church dropped the literal gathering of the saints, along with many other important doctrines and policies meant to build a celestial society – united order, plural marriage, adoption, political kingdom of God, etc.. This compromise changed completely the concept of gathering and lead to the “Americanization” of Deseret. That was the first step of the “law-abiding church” (meaning any law).

    The temples built outide the American continent, for example, show the current principle that Zion can be anywhere – and not in the Americas as defined by Joseph Smith.

    I wonder though if the Lord isn’t still inspiring some saints to gather themselves in the Rocky Mountains, despite the Church policies, bringing to the main body of the saints the Lamanite blood that is present in most of Latin Americans.

    Just my 2 cents.

  212. Just sayin' on December 5, 2005 at 10:04 am

    I think this is one effect of having a lay clergy. We cannot compare the Catholic Church and its response to its members because they have (1) no temple recommend interview and (2) no lay clergy.

    It is not being honest in all one’s dealings to (for whatever reason) knowingly disobey the law, steal other people’s SS numbers, lie on job applications and say one is a citizen when one is not, not declare status on legal documents, forge USCIS documents, accept money that one should not legally earn, etc.

    There are people who overstay their immigrant visas who don’t work. That’s one thing, and they are not breaking any laws, technically (i.e. it is just a misdemeanor to overstay one’s visa–this is what would be akin to speeding). It’s quite another thing to make money under the table, not declare taxes, lie to one’s employer (who one is putting in jeopardy), etc. Martha Stewart went to jail for not lying about ill-gotten income (of course it was different, but the principle is similar).

  213. Adam Greenwood on December 5, 2005 at 10:26 am

    Wilfried D.,

    Why do you think the “basic human message” that people who are opposed to open immigration are unchristian and and we should be ashamed of them?


  214. Mark B. on December 5, 2005 at 11:07 am

    I haven’t seen anyone here or in public advocate “open immigration.” That’s an old straw man regularly raised by those who advocate stricter limitations on immigration. On the other hand, I don’t think that even the loudest foes of immigration believe that we should shut the borders and allow nobody in.

    So, perhaps the discussion would be advanced if we avoided painting such stark pictures of those on the opposite side of the issue.

    The basic human message that Wilfried was referring to has two manifestations in this issue: first, every one of the people who come to the United States is, as your title suggests, our brother or our sister. Their decision to come here was motivated by real human needs–hopes, fears, etc. Whatever “wrong” those people have committed in breaking the immigration laws, they are real brothers and sisters, not some demons we can dismiss simply as “illegals.”

    The second basic human message that arises is raised in Maren’s comment. The process of applying for an immigration benefit (even if that benefit is simply admission into the US, as a returning citizen) is demeaning–I know the CBP is just “doing their job”, but what right do they have to be rude to me? I’m a US citizen, after all, and I have as much right to be here as they have. And, if the process is demeaning for a US citizen, it’s much much worse for an applicant, such as Maren’s husband.

    Wait for months, or years, for processing of a non-quota “immediate” relative case.
    Be questioned as if you intend to commit fraud.
    Have your family denied visitor’s visas to come to the wedding.
    Be forbidden to travel during the pendency of your case.
    And on and on.

    If none of these issues, the basic human message that Maren and Wilfried raised, strike a chord with you, then perhaps there is a need to check your milk-of-human-kindness quotient.

  215. Just sayin' on December 5, 2005 at 11:12 am

    The problem is, the moore the illegal immigrants break the law and disregard the protocol, the harder they are on LEGAL immigrants (who they can track). This further complicates the systme, makes it more costly, more onerous, more difficult for legal immigrants and for citizens. Meanwhile, the illegals slip under the radar and continue to defraud the government and its citizens and legal residents.

  216. Adam Greenwood on December 5, 2005 at 11:23 am

    I haven’t seen anyone here or in public advocate “open immigration.�

    Check out Greenfrog’s comments. In fact, check out any of the comments here. If its shameful, unchristian, nazi, and racist to want to enforce our current levels of legal immigration, why would it cease to be so at some other level of immigration? If we have a Christian duty not to enforce immigration laws, how is that different from open borders?

    I can understand you’re wanting to recast the debate in terms of (1) immigrants are people too and (2) dealing with the INS is frustrating and unpleasant. Those are uncontroversial points that almost everyone will agree with (myself included) and by baselessly implying that people who disagree with you disagree with those points you get to suggest that they dont’ have the milk-of-human kindness. But that’s not what the argument is about. I haven’t seen anyone here or in public advocate that “illegal immigrants are inhuman” or “the INS is kindly.”

  217. Mark B. on December 5, 2005 at 11:46 am

    I just read Greenfrog’s comments. I’ll let him speak for himself on the question of open immigration.

    It appears, however, that he was trying to find an explanation for why somebody may “override” his general opposition to illegal immigration when faced with an individual brother or sister who doesn’t have legal immigration status.

    I think all of us have those same tendencies when we think about lawbreakers in the abstract–we’re likely to become Javert. Most of us, however, when we come face to face with the Jean Valjean’s around us, are unlikely to remain Javert.

    I searced the word “nazi” on this thread. It appears only in two of your posts.

  218. Adam Greenwood on December 5, 2005 at 11:50 am

    “I searched the word “naziâ€? on this thread. It appears only in two of your posts.”

    See comment #204 for clarification, Mark B.

  219. Russell Arben Fox on December 5, 2005 at 11:53 am

    I’ve mostly ignored this thread, because I’ve been busy and because I’ve found that discussions about immigration are nortoriously difficult–probably because, like discussions about abortion, profoundly disparate moral, economic, and political views get mixed together, causing a lot of confusion. That said, let me attempt a few brief comments:


    “I am ashamed to know that people feel this way. I guess it would be better for all the immigrants to stay in their own countries and work in factories making things that will be sent to us, so we can purchase things cheaply and they can continue to starve.”

    Obviously, Maren, it has been your experience that those who oppose (some? most? all?) immigration (legal? illegal? both?) are racist xenophobes who think the brown-skinned world is worth nothing except to supply us with cheap labor and goods. It might surprise you to learn this, but a large number of those of us concerned about immigration rates feel the way we do not for any reason having to do with the racial make-up of America, but exactly because of the kind of unjust, exploitive, skewed labor relationship which you describe. As you may have noticed, this is very nearly what we already have, and a lot of leftists think its terrible. I want Mexico to become self-sufficient and flourish; it will have a hard time doing so when American trade, employment, and immigration policies combine to undermine much local development beyond that of selling trinkets to Americans, with the result that the masses of unemployed are easy marks for rapacious corporations–Wal-Mart, Tysons, etc.–who employ them on the sly. Rethinking our immigration policies are hardly a sufficient solution to this problem, but such a rethinking cannot help but be part of a solution.


    If you have, as your comment suggests, such a revulsion to any kind of anti-immigrant argument, I would be really interested in your feelings about what your own country of Belgium, and for that matter what all of Western Europe, should do to address the large and increasing social and economic dislocations and occasional violence which has attended the rise of Muslim immigration to your countries. Again, I leave entirely aside those (I hope few) cultural nationalists that flirt with fascism; I mean, what about unemployment, language and religion policies in the schools, citizenship rules, black markets, lack of civic development or political assimilation, etc. You quote Bishop Niederauer as rightly noting the “hypocrisy in the mixed message the United States sends south of the border: ‘We will do everything we can to keep you out, but if you make it in, we have a job for you.’” I couldn’t agree with Niederauer more. But here is the point: do you really believe that resolving this situation will only involve reforming one side of that hypocritical message? Or don’t you think both will have to be addressed? Again, I’d be curious as to your opinion as informed by your observations on the situation in Western Europe.


    I don’t really disagree with anything you say: all human beings should be regarded, within the circle of the church, as brothers and sisters; while there may be exceptions or difficult situations here or there, generally speaking I don’t think the church and its policies ought to be obliged to submit to any kind of cultural or socio-economic imperative, much less a political one. Moreover, I also agree that our immigration policies are profoundly demeaning and frequently unjust, and often anti-family to boot. I am of the mind that one of the primary reasons for that unthinking cruelty is become those involved in enforcing our immigrations laws know that they are operating in a deeply hypocritical and incoherent environment, where on any given day they will expected to harass or hunt down some poor innocent and at the same time wink at a manifest illegality. Hence, I think that defending that “basic human message” which Wilfried pointed to will involve significant reforms–some of which may involve some liberalization of our immigration policies, but some of which will not. As you say, which we should stop painting stark pictures of our opponents.

  220. Jim F. on December 5, 2005 at 11:56 am

    Adam Greenwood: The argument you make by implication–”if is wrong to enforce our present levels of legal immigration, it would not be right to enforce some other level of immigration”–is an invalid one. Perhaps some of those commenting do favor open immigration, but it doesn’t follow from the fact that they don’t agree with enforcing present levels that they are in favor of open immigration. It is quite possible to believe that there is some level at which immigration should be curtailed without believing that the present level is the right one, or that individuals or the Church ought to involve itself positively in enforcing this one.

    Everyone else: it is one thing to believe that Adam is wrong. It is quite another to accuse him of being unChristian, a Nazi, or racist because you believe he is wrong. Without a lot more evidence than is on this thread, I don’t see how what he says leads to that conclusion. Adam’s position is an unpopular one, but we ought to give him the benefit of the doubt unless he makes that impossible–which he has not. Neither popularity nor unpopularity is a good measure of truth. Why not stick to the argument rather than insert the ad hominem accusations?

  221. Yeechang Lee on December 5, 2005 at 11:58 am

    Julie wrote:

    So if our government lacks the political will to prosecute them (why? because we don’t want to pay 6.35 for a head of iceburg lettuce)

    then SiblingRevelry wrote:

    For example: Would you still be for it if you knew that such enforcement would increase the cost of a head of lettuce to $6.35 (as someone mentioned earlier)

    This is a commonly-repeated mantra that facts do not appear to support. Illegal immigrants who work in farming concentrate on fresh fruit and vegetables, which comprises less than 1% of all household spending, according to UC Davis’ Rural Migration News. It goes on to say that:

    [a]verage farm-worker earnings were $7.56 an hour for US field and livestock workers in 2000, according to a USDA survey of farm employers, and a 40 percent increase would raise them by $3 to $10.58. If this wage increase were passed fully to consumers, the 5 to 6 cent farm labor cost of a pound of apples or a head of lettuce would rise to 7 to 9 cents, and the retail price would rise by 2 to 3 cents.

    For a typical household, a 40 percent increase in farm labor costs translates into a two to three percent increase in retail prices (0.175 x 0.33 = 6 percent, farm labor costs rise 40 percent, and 0.4 x 6 = 2.4 percent), so total spending on fruits and vegetables would rise by $8, from $353 a year to $361 a year. However, for a typical seasonal farm worker, earnings could rise to $11,200 a year, up from $8,000. These wage increases may lead to farm productivity improvements, so that consumer prices may decrease rather than increase.

    In other words there is no evidence that eliminating illegal immigration would immediately lead to skyrocketing food prices, and some reason to think that prices would actually fall.

    I live in California and know that illegal immigrants likely serve me food and clean my office. But if they were to disappear tomorrow, they’d be replaced by non-illegal immigrants attracted by the resulting higher wages, contrary to what a certain movie claims. For those who think that legal American residents wouldn’t ever stoop to such tasks, I invite you to visit, say, rural Iowa, where retired grandmothers, high-school kids, and everyone else somehow keep fast-food restaurants and Wal-Marts working without exhorbitant prices.

    I invite you to think of it this way: Does anyone think that if all first-generation Korean-Americans (of which I am one) who run neighborhood grocery stores were to vanish from New York City tomorrow, that New Yorkers would starve? Of course not. Well, perhaps they’d go hungry for a few days, but other entrepreneurs of all ethnic groups would replace them. So what’s the difference with the employees, versus the employers (and, to be sure, many of the employees as well)?

  222. gst on December 5, 2005 at 11:58 am

    For the record, it wasn’t me calling anyone a national socialist, in jest or otherwise!

  223. Jim F. on December 5, 2005 at 12:09 pm

    gst: Thanks for the laugh!

  224. Adam Greenwood on December 5, 2005 at 12:10 pm

    “The argument you make by implication–â€?if is wrong to enforce our present levels of legal immigration, it would not be right to enforce some other level of immigrationâ€?–is an invalid one. . . . . It is quite possible to believe that there is some level at which immigration should be curtailed without believing that the present level is the right one, or that individuals or the Church ought to involve itself positively in enforcing this one. ”

    I think the argument becomes valid if the arguments against enforcing immigration laws are individual, moral ones. I see commenters arguing that there’s something intrinsically immoral about depriving one person of the kind of economic and medical opportunities they could get in this country. That being the case, I don’t see how any level of enforcement could be just. But perhaps I’m misreading–perhaps there are arguments that certain amounts of immigration are morally required but greater amounts aren’t. I’d be curious to hear them.

    On the other hand, if the arguments are merely technical ones about the proper *levels* of immigration, I don’t think we would see the amount of passion that’s been invested in this thread.

  225. Wilfried on December 5, 2005 at 12:33 pm

    A few of you have commented on my careful addition (210) that I agree with the basic human message, which means treating good people with decency, as our brothers and sisters. I refered to the Church standpoint and simply said that I was happy I could follow that.

    I was saddened to see how even such a pretty neutral statement is distorted.

    Adam (213): “Why do you think the “basic human messageâ€? that people who are opposed to open immigration are unchristian and and we should be ashamed of them?”

    Adam, where did I say that I think such a thing? Where did I imply that I am for “open immigration”? I am not.

    Russell (219): “If you have, as your comment suggests, such a revulsion to any kind of anti-immigrant argument, I would be really interested in your feelings about what your own country of Belgium, and for that matter what all of Western Europe, should do to address the large and increasing social and economic dislocations and occasional violence which has attended the rise of Muslim immigration to your countries”.

    Russell, nowhere did my addition suggest that I have “such a revulsion to any kind of anti-immigrant argument”. That is a very unfair conclusion to address to somone who simply wanted to affirm that kindness and humanity should not be forgotten in this debate. The comparison you ask in connection with West-Europe is relevant: it is obvious we cannot open the borders to millions who want to come, many of whom come to profit from an already sick social system or who even have dangerous objectives. But that does not mean we should not have compassion with those who suffer, who want to work hard, who are faithful converts.

  226. Adam Greenwood on December 5, 2005 at 12:45 pm

    I apologize for misunderstanding you, Wilfried D.

  227. Russell Arben Fox on December 5, 2005 at 12:57 pm

    I also, Wilfried; I took you to be agreeing with a tone more than, as the case actually is, a point–one which I agree with. My apologies.

  228. Mark B. on December 5, 2005 at 2:05 pm

    Russell brings some helpful light to the discussion in his comments directed to Maren. The ultimate solution is economic. Demand to immigrate will remain high so long as there is no realistic opportunity for a decent life in one’s country of origin. We could (as essentially all reform proposals on the table do) address this simply as a matter of raising, literally, the barriers to entry. But such efforts are doomed to lead, eventually, to the enforcement problems we face at present. So long as the streets here are paved with gold, and the streets there with mud and manure, the demand to immigrate will remain high.

  229. DavidH on December 5, 2005 at 2:38 pm

    I personally favor essentially open borders. Of course, just as Representative Tancredo apparently does not favor immediate mass expulsion of up to 11 million undocumented aliens (what does he favor, by the way, with respect to those individuals?), I would not open the borders wide immediately, without any sort of limitation. I would, instead, dramatically increase the number of people allowed to enter each year, and impose some minimal requirements (such as not admitting felons who committed violent crimes, unless they have completed their sentences and paroles, and provide adequate evidence of complete rehabilitation). That would mean that there might be a wait of a couple of years for someone to get in, but it would be in the realm of possibility of anyone who wanted to come here.

    I gather that my view, like Jettboy’s (but on the opposite end), might be viewed as extreme even on this thread, but I would like it clarified that at least one poster favors essentially open borders.

  230. greenfrog on December 5, 2005 at 4:33 pm

    As my previous views seem to be currency here, I’ll re-emphasize one point, elaborate a second, and try to make a third (which apparently has already been presumed, to a large degree, though I have yet to state it).

    The re-emphasized point: one of the principal rationales for limited immigration policy is the preservation of a level of personal economic wealth that would not obtain absent limitations on new entrants. Articulated in this fashion, the argument is structurally quite similar to the economic argument supporting monopolistic business conduct — those already in a line of business can make more money by restricting output and raising price if they can prevent others from entering the same line of business in competition with them. Though the reasoning is structurally similar, I acknowledge that one could reach different conclusions about whether and how to regulate the two kinds of entry-barrier-engendered monopolies. US antitrust law offers one solution: prohibit the collective action designed to maintain the artificial barriers to entry. US immigration policy offers a different solution: forcibly erect and enforce entry barriers.

    So far, I haven’t seen any direct response to this idea on this thread. I offered the comparison between immigration and competition policies as a way of addressing Mr. Greenwood’s original post, which asked what might be motivating him to suppress his intellectually-based support for immigration law enforcement in a given situation. (N.B., in the future, I’ll endeavor to respond to such queries without using direct suggestions about the person of the originating post’s author. I had some difficulty navigating that course in this thread, as the distinction between an irrelevant ad hominem (which I understand to be a statement that endeavors to devalue an argument not because of the argument’s weaknesses, but rather because of the weaknesses of the one proffering it) and a relevant comment regarding the author’s own mindset (which I understand to be, literally, what is asked for in the originating post here) is a highly nuanced one that is not easily represented in the relatively brief back-and-forth format promoted by the way this website is structured.)

    So much for the re-emphasis.

    Now for the elaboration: intuitive vs. intellectual. I noted Mark B’s remark regarding Jauvert and Jean Valjean. I think his suggestion is correct, as I’m not 100% against capital punishment, but if I were required to strangle those sentenced to death, I very well might be. What I’m not sure of is this: is such a personal (even, in my hypothetical, visceral) response a function of a useful right/wrong detector? I tend to find intuitive responses to be problematic within an intellectual context, but I follow them, nonetheless, believing them to be somehow more authentic than an intellectual contrivance I may generate. Hence, my suggestion that, perhaps, this is a factor in the situation Mr. Greenwood questioned.

    And (if you’re still reading) the new thought: Do I advocate open borders? Not necessarily, but I’m open to being persuaded that the assumptions I hold that prevent me from supporting open borders are not correct.

    My thinking in this regard includes the following:

    (1) Every person (member of the Church or not) is my sister or my brother, whom I should love as greatly as I love myself.

    (2) The mandate that I love such persons entails the obligation to make myself aware of their circumstances and, to the extent of my capacity, improve those circumstances.

    (3) The requirements of #2 require me to evaluate what is, truly, necessary to my continued existence. While I am not fully resolved that the requirements of #2 do not require ultimate self-sacrifice (was Jesus required to die, or did He choose to, or is there a difference between those two?), I don’t think I need to resolve that question at present, as I’ve got a long ways to go before I reach any real threat to my life.

    (4) Many aspects of the structure of society do, themselves, create greater wealth net to the world than would obtain absent the existence of those structures.

    (5) Some of those structures of society are sufficiently fragile that they would not survive the immediate cessation of border controls.

    Two further thoughts about ##4 and 5:

    First, that I believe points 4 & 5 creates a tension with my belief regarding point #2, as they create a situation in which I am capable of self-deception and hypocrisy within myself — is any specific decision I make (a) based on a disinterested balancing of the potential harm to the social wealth maximization that just coincidentally leads to a direct, personal benefit to myself, or (b) a veiled rationalization for indulging my own selfish desires for personal gain at the expense of others? (Meta-textual item: please note that I am not suggesting that anyone other than myself holds such proclivities toward hypocrisy and self-rationalization. No need to feel personally attacked. This is my thinking process about myself. If needed to avoid interpersonal conflict on this thread, please consider me entirely aberrant in this regard.)

    Finally, two more elements in my thinking:

    (6) In a number of ways, the social structures that enhance overall social welfare are dependent upon the collective belief and faith of the populace.

    (7) In a number of ways, the collective belief and faith of the populace result in over-protection of the wealth-creating social structures. The costs of that overprotection, like the costs of overinsurance I might purchase from an effective insurance salesman, become externalities imposed, largely, on persons outside that particular social structure.

    Beliefs 6 and 7 make some aspects of immigration enforcement a necessary evil, IMO. And belief #7 means that there is significant potential for improvement regarding immigration short of open borders that could threaten the valuable social structures referenced in Belief #5. I hope that that may be accomplished via a combination of teaching the gospel and using more limited immigration demonstrations to test the actual strength of societal structures. If they prove to be more resilient than is currently commonly supposed, I’m optimistic that social opposition to such immigration will decrease and the scope of the necessary evil will be reduced.

  231. Adam Greenwood on December 7, 2005 at 12:57 am

    I’m posting this email with permission, from my friend Benji McMurray:

    Just a few comments:

    (1) By giving illegals a ride, you may have committed a federal crime yourself.
    (2) As I understand it, the church’s current policy is that noncompliance with immigration rules is not the sort of legal violation that renders a person unworthy to participate fully in the church (baptism, priesthood, mission, temple, etc.).
    (3) However, current church policy is that illegal immigrants may not be called as full-time missionaries because 10th Circuit precedent, as read cautiously by the church, exposes the church to criminal liability. The problem is not that illegals are ordained ministers for the church (we have tons of illegal bishops/branch presidents, etc.). Instead, the problem is that the church supports the missionaries while they are serving, which makes the church a facilitator of the illegal behavior. (In a similar vein, bishops must be careful in providing welfare assistance to illegals because it could expose the church to criminal liability as well.)
    (4) I have personal experience with the frustrations caused by this policy. In my elders quorum in Salt Lake was a wonderful 19-year-old, brought to the United States years earlier by his parents from Norway. You could not find a better missionary than this fellow. He has a burning testimony and a strong desire to serve the Lord. Since he was small he was taught that every worthy male should serve a fulltime mission, and he wants to. Now he can’t because of a church policy (imposed, of course, to avoid criminal liability). So why might the church try to lobby for an exception to immigration law? I do not think it is to somehow take advantage of an illicit population base but to provide opportunities for young people like my friend to fulfill their religious convictions, to allow its members to live their religion as they believe they should do.
    (5) Why might a person like you support what the church is doing? For one thing, because of the spiritual purpose I described above. More broadly, though, I would submit that current immigration law and policy is unjust and un-Christian. I beleive they are unjust to the extent they are based on ignorance, false assumptions about resources, fear, prejudice, bigotry, and bias. They are un-Christian inasmuch as the gospel of Jesus Christ obligates us to treat strangers and foreigners in a particular way, and I feel strongly that current law and policy actually oppose (not just fail to take into account) these divine mandates.
    (6) Just one example, a Christian might feel compelled as a matter of faith to help out an illegal. Perhaps the help takes the form of a ride somewhere, something to eat, maybe even a place to stay. Although it sounds like you typically refuse such requests, it appears that from time to time, on some level, you grant them. As I mentioned above, such assistance may actually be illegal. How does a Christian reconcile that dilemma? For many, the spiritual demand is much greater than the penal threat. Why would we, as Christian legislators, pass laws that create such a dilemma? As Christian citizens, should we obey them?

  232. Adam Greenwood on December 7, 2005 at 1:01 am

    Also from Benji McMurray:

    > Hey Adam,
    > It looks like your very thoughtful post generated
    > quite a discussion.
    > One more religious idea. Currently, the church in
    > SLC is preaching that the Lord is bringing many
    > Hispanics to the US, particularly the SL valley, in
    > fulfillment of scriptural prophecy. The vast
    > majority of these, of course, are illegal. If that
    > is true, it would seem to imply that, for whatever
    > reason, the Lord does not respect US immigration
    > policy. If he does not, should we?
    > By the way, I hope you don’t take any of my
    > comments as derrogatory or disrespectful. I do want
    > to add that I immensely respect your integrity and
    > desire to obey the law. In a culture where civil
    > disobedience has almost become the ideal, humility
    > to obey the law is often denegrated, to our loss,
    > I’m afraid. Thank you for your example to me, in so
    > many ways.
    > Benji

  233. Adam Greenwood on December 7, 2005 at 1:03 am

    I replied. In my reply I assumed he referred to some specific prophecy about migration to SLC. He responded:

    I am not aware of any prophecies that Hispanics would come to the Salt Lake valley. Rather, the prophesies being fulfilled are those Book of Mormon and Biblical prophecies that the children of Lehi would be restored to the fulness of the gospel. Among these prophesies are the notions that the Lamanites (Israel) would blossom as a rose; another is that the Lamanites would rise up, like a lion, to “vex the Gentiles” in the latter days. My sense is that the bretheren see the vast immigration to SL valley as a means of fulfilling these prophesies, hence an increased, specific effort to preach the gospel to Hispanics living in the Salt Lake area. With this in mind, I will respond within your hypotheticals.

    Adam Greenwood wrote:
    Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that prophesy
    does predict that Hispanics will come to the SLC
    valley and that the current migration is the
    fulfillment of that prophecy. We still can’t conclude
    that God wants us to not enforce our immigration laws.

    1) The prophecy might be value-neutral. A
    description of what will happen, not what should

    In light of the clarification above, it should be clear that the prophesies are value-neutral. I believe they are things that should happen; the fulfillment of these prophesies is something that we as saints all should desire.

    2) Even though the prophecy is currently being
    fulfilled by illegal immigration, legal immigration,
    even our current system, concievably, might be enough
    to fulfill it.

    Perhaps. As clarified above, the prophesies could arguably be fulfilled without preaching the gospel to illegal immigrants. However, my sense is that the Lord is bringing the people to SL specifically for the purpose of introducing them to the gospel and that he is doing this in contravention of current immigration laws. That said, if we view the prophesies in this light, there may, indeed, be no serious conflict. Current immigration laws do not penalize proseletyzing illegals or giving illegals ecclesiastical authority. The church has made the policy decision to allow illegals to participate fully in the church. Thus, there is potentially no conflict. As stated earlier, though, the conflict rises where our acts can be viewed as facilitating illegal immigration, in which case the church and its members can be sanctioned.

    3) Perhaps the prophecy is already fulfilled.

    In light of my clarifications above as to what prophecies I am referring to, it should be clear that they are not yet fulfilled.

    4) Perhaps the things God wills to happen, he does
    not always will us to cooperate in them.

    Perhaps. However, I am more inclined to believe that what God wills to happen, he allows his righteous servants to participate in. God himself could descend from the heavens to personally fulfill all his purposes (as he will surely do at some point), but in the meantime, he allows us, through the organization of the priesthood, to participate fully in that work. Perhaps a particular person is not permitted to work on a particular project, but it seems to me that the Lord always has some mortal here on earth doing the work. I guess the more salient question, still, is does the Lord desire that we as members of the church sanction illegal immigration as we seek to fulfill his purposes? As discussed above, it may not be necessary to fulfill his spiritual purposes, but it may be a byproduct of our efforts to minister to the temporal needs of illegals.

    An illustration captures some of these points. As far
    back as Nephi, the Lamanite destruction of the Nephite
    nation was prophesied. Moroni resisted this
    prophecy–he tried to fight the Lamanites and prevent
    their destruction–but I do not think this was sinful
    or resisting God.

    This is an interesting example, but I don’t think it exactly applies. In your example, Moroni was trying to avert an undesired, but ultimately inevitable, result. In my case, we are talking about a desired, and also inevitable, result. In both cases, the Lord requires his servants to participate with him. On the one hand to avert the inevitable, on the other hand to bring about the inevitable. In both cases, the Lord’s servants are doing the work.

  234. Adam Greenwood on December 7, 2005 at 1:10 am


    Now that I know what prophesies you have in mind, I’m really unpersuaded. Our missionary work south of the border is pretty effective (which means that illegal immigration is not the only way that the prophesy can be fulfilled) and, as you point out, our current law does not prevent proselyting. In fact, it might be ideal if Hispanics were converted in Utah and then returned to their countries, right?

    And, of course, I think we have a different idea of our role in relation to prophesy. I think its possible that something might lead to good consequences, and those good consequences might be prophesied, without the something itself being good.

  235. Mark B. on December 7, 2005 at 4:49 pm

    And I thought that Greenfrog’s lengthy comment (230) had effectively killed off this thread!

    I, with Adam, am unpersuaded that prophecies about the gospel being accepted by the Lamanites has anything to do with the immigration, legal or otherwise, from Latin America.

    Benji’s note, in paragraph 4 of comment 231, appears to capture the motivation for the Church’s support of the Bennett Amendment.

  236. Adam Greenwood on December 8, 2005 at 1:38 pm

    By the way, I’m not arguing that this is the only way to understand the immigration debate. But I’ve noticed a certain lack of fellow feeling on the pro-immigration side for those of us on the other side of the debate. Since Noonan’s a good writer, she does a good job of humanizing the anti- side.

  237. Mark B. on December 8, 2005 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks for posting that piece. I have concerns about some of what Ms. Noonan says.

    For example, she says:

    “If you assume or come to believe that that nation will not enforce its own laws for reasons that are essentially cynical, that have to do with the needs of big business or the needs of politicians, will that assumption or belief make you more or less likely to be moved by that country, proud of that country, eager to ally yourself with it emotionally, psychologically and spiritually?”

    I frankly don’t know whether the failure to enforce the immigration laws arises from cynicism, and I suspect that Ms. Noonan doesn’t have any better data that I have.

    The cynicism behind the failure to enforce the laws, if there in fact is any, may be found as much in the hearts of those who call for strict enforcement but fail to raise the revenues necessary to that enforcement as in the hearts of the elite who grow up in suburbs, go to Yale and have an easy life (made easier by the low cost gardener, housekeeper, nanny, busboy and waiter and cook and etc. etc. who are all here in violation of the immigration laws).

    “When you don’t earn something or suffer to get it, do you value it less highly?”

    I’m not at all sure that the price paid for those who “earned” admission to the US in 1910, or 1853 for that matter, was higher than, or even as high as, the price paid by those who come to the US now–whether those who wait for immigrant visas or those who cross the border without inspection.

    Surely Ms. Noonan’s grandmother had to gather the funds to pay her passage, and had to leave her known world behind and travel 10 days to cross the Atlantic. She had to pass the examiners at Ellis Island, showing herself free from disease.

    Consider the poor Mexican from Puebla–there is no amount of money that would enable him to gain admission to the US, at least none that is within his grasp, worlds without end. (There are visas available to investors who are prepared to invest $1,000,000 in a US business. As I said, worlds without end.) If he had an employer who was willing to sponsor him (how to find that employer while living in Puebla?), and the money, $6,000 to $10,000, to pay the costs of the process, then he might have a chance. But it will take him six or seven years from the time that unlikely process begins until he can approach the embassy for his visa interview.

    Perhaps he’s lucky and has a brother that went ahead of him, fell in love with and married an American woman, got a green card and eventually became a citizen. As a citizen, that brother is entitled to file a petition for his brother in Puebla. And, if the US citizen brother had filed that petition before April 1, 1992, the man in Puebla could file his visa application this month, December 2005, and perhaps six months or a year from now he would receive his immigrant visa, assuming that he isn’t found to be inadmissable for health or criminal or other reasons. (One of those criminal reasons: any conviction for an offense relating to a controlled substance–not trafficking, simple possession. It could be an ounce of marijuana, 20 years ago while the man was a foolish teenager.)

    On the bright side: the man in Puebla is better off than his Filipino brethren–if a US citizen files for his Filipino brother or sister, the waiting period is now 22 years.

    And, for those who come without inspection, the costs are high, financial and otherwise. There’s the trip to the border, the payment to los coyotes, the risky trip across the desert, the constant fear of being caught, the difficulty in getting work, the low wages, the high cost of housing, the need for money back home, and on and on. I don’t know that those people value their being here any less than those who came when the legal restrictions were lower.

    Do those who come without inspection, or who overstay their visas, think that they’re conning the US? I don’t know. My guess is that most don’t think in those terms. They instead think of the difficulty of life here–the streets aren’t actually paved with gold, and the folks back in Puebla don’t realize how hard things are here.

    Of course, since they are legally “outlaws” there’s no integration into the US polity. How could we expect them to learn and adopt the principles of our constitutional government if they’re on the run from “la Migracion.”

    I cannot speak for anyone on the pro-immigration side of the issue except myself, but I think that my concerns about this nation and the shared values that make us a nation run just as deep as Ms. Noonan’s. I too am concerned about the apparent anarchy at our southern border (although I do have to hold my nose if I hear about it from Lou Dobbs).

    I’m also concerned about the proposals to toughen enforcement at the border–see for example the bill just reported out of the House Judiciary Committee, HR 4437:

    Reading the provisions of that bill reminds me of other, ultimately unsuccesful, efforts to build barriers to keep people from seeking economic or political liberty. I don’t suggest that the sponsors’ motives are the same, but the effects of their proposals could end up looking sadly similar. It would be sad if the line from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic (erased by the miracles of 15 years ago) were replaced in world consciousness by the line from Brownsville on the Gulf of Mexico to San Diego on the Pacific.

  238. Mark B. on December 8, 2005 at 9:22 pm

    One additional small (but not for those directly affected) point: Rep. Sensenbrenner’s bill would work substantial revisions to INA Sec. 274, making a quick end to Senator Bennett’s amendment.

  239. Mike W. on December 9, 2005 at 12:10 am

    Here’s a link that discusses, superficially, all the current proposals being tossed about.

  240. DavidH on December 9, 2005 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks Mark. Amen and amen.

  241. Jettboy on December 31, 2005 at 10:17 am

    “Would you still be for it if you knew that such enforcement would increase the cost of a head of lettuce to $6.35 (as someone mentioned earlier)?”

    Yes, it is a small price to pay to protect the United States from the influx of murderers, rapists, and those who have no business getting here without going through proper channels. I would certainly not move to another country without doing whatever was needed legally to live in, say, Canada. It isn’t about money. Its about national security and doing the right thing!

    “what about good Mormon employers (and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few here in the Phoenix area that do this) who stop by the open air labor market and pick up a few guys without papers for some casual construction-type labor?”

    They are breaking the law and acting dishonest. This should cause them to rethink their worthiness to go to the Temple. This goes beyond the “speeding” argument as I have said above, because it is close to an invasion; usually considered an act of War.

    “Would you feel compelled to turn Bro. Employer in for labor law violations? He’s violating The Law as well!”

    Actually, I would follow the gospel ideal first. Go to that person and explain what you find seriously wrong with what they are doing. If they continue to support illegals I would think of raising my hands in objection to callings within the Church. Finally, after deliberation and objection, I would turn them in for violating the law.

    I have no qualms about this one bit! Its time to “lay down the law” in order to protect the U.S. against foriegn invaders who can do harm and just slip away into the dark mists of Mexico. The other alternative is that if you are an illegal who breaks the law, then instant death penalty no matter how small the infraction. Extreme, but it might deter the more sinister elements from deciding its easier to do their damage over the boarder and on U.S. soil.

    Like I said above, I am not against streamlining the imigration laws making it easier to get in. What I am against is making it so easy that any can get in, or not doing something about those who are currently getting in and getting away with it to the moral and physical safety of this nation. I know of no nation that is so open, against its own laws, to allowing people from other nations to willy nilly come right in. My guess is that even Canada isn’t so open; or at least probably follows its own lenient laws about citizenship.

  242. greenfrog on January 24, 2006 at 1:43 pm


    This post and discussion came to mind for me recently as I finished reading David Berreby’s Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind.

    His thesis is that human brains are pre-designed to facilitate and fortify group identification — both groups to which we perceive ourselves belonging as well as groups to which we perceive ourselves in opposition. He reports information on a number of sociological studies in weaving his conclusions.

    You might find his work of interest.


  243. Mathew on January 31, 2006 at 11:44 am

    Quote from a member this past Sunday giving her talk in Spanish and relating how she first met the missionaries: “Two men in suits came to my door and rang the doorbell. I was scared. I didn’t know what they wanted. I thought they might be from immigration.”

    Half the ward started laughing, followed by the other half when we got the translation. What a great moment.

  244. barret on April 1, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    WHAT do you people not understand. ILLEGAL is ILLEGAL. I know it is difficult to come into the country. I know many come to help their family. SO do those who wait in line. There is a law. You break it you should pay.
    Not all come in with pure intentions. Many in prison are illegal immigrants. Our hospitals and schools are being over-run. The immigrants for the most part dont want citizenship. I proove this by the fact that they dont learn english and hold mexican flags all the time. They believe this is there land. (Atzlan) If you dont beleive me visit one of the rallies happening this week. I have. I was attacked while just inocently driving my wife to work. They beat on my car threw cups at me told me to leave their country. They even burnt our american flag. No they want free and better health care and education. they want to be paid more. Many say well they do jobs that we wont. Baloney. No one will work for 2 dollars an hour. This is slavery. If you support illegal workers you support slavery. Vicente fox wants us to take care of his poor. The church wants us to follow the commandments. LETS DO THAT!

  245. Mark B. on April 3, 2006 at 4:42 pm

    I was afraid that barret was serious, and then I saw the date on his post.

    Happy April Fools’ Day!

  246. linda on May 5, 2006 at 10:34 am



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