A humane approach to immigration

January 19, 2008 | 116 comments
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One thing that church leaders said in their recent meetings with state lawmakers: Let’s take a humane approach to immigration. The Deseret News reports that:

House Minority Whip David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, said the Democrats’ meeting with church officials brought up several issues, but the immigration discussion was the most touching for him personally.

“I interpreted what was said as this: ‘Take a step back, be calm, and above all remember that we are dealing with human beings here,”‘ said Litvack, who is Jewish and has himself called for cooler heads in dealing with the often emotional issue of illegal immigration.

House Majority Leader Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, a member of the LDS Church himself, said immigration issues did not take up much time in the Republicans’ meeting with church leaders. “But they did say we all need to approach this subject with compassion.”

. . .

LDS Church officials “used the word ‘call,’ they made a call for humanity in immigration” debates and legislation, Litvack said. “We should not demonize” illegal immigrants. “In some cases, the debate has become so ugly, I heard, so hateful and dehumanizing. Let’s bring back the element of humanity.”

How exactly should our LDS beliefs translate into specific ideas on immigration?

I’ve made some past suggestions on this blog. I’ve argued, for instance, that the Beharry v. Reno approach of requiring a hearing about family impact before deportation — a legal approach which I helped work on as a law clerk, and which was overturned on appeal — is consistent with LDS belief about the importance of family. And such discussions have come up from time to time throughout the bloggernacle. For example, elsewhere online, Stirling Adams has posted some discussions wondering how immigration questions should be affected by LDS beliefs.

I don’t know any church member who has thought more about the issue more than Rebecca van Uitert. Rebecca is an LDS immigration attorney in New York City, with a little side job (hah!) managing the undocumented minors program at the Catholic Charities. In addition, she has written a lengthy article about LDS thought and immigration. Rebecca’s article, “Undocumented Immigrants in the United States: A Discussion of Catholic Social Thought and ‘Mormon Social Thought’ Principles,” was published last year in the Journal of Catholic Legal Studies. (The cite is 46 J. Cath. Legal Stud. 277). In it, she writes:

In the spirit of “using gospel principles as a guide” to achieve the righteous end of being a “full participant in political, governmental, and community affairs,” this paper advocates one possible viewpoint on undocumented immigration linked to the history, culture, and doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Based upon this foundation, I believe that a sympathetic approach toward the plight of undocumented immigrants living in the United States is amply justified.

. . .

LDS scriptures recognize the intrinsic dignity and value of each member of the human race. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord, speaking to the prophet Joseph Smith, declared: “[T]he worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” LDS doctrine further develops this principle of human dignity in that it recognizes divine potential within each individual; Latter-day Saints believe that all humans have the capacity not only to return to live with God, but also to become like God, someday. When we view the immigrants that live with us in our communities as not only our brothers and sisters, but also “God[s] in embryo,” it is not difficult to treat them with respect and kindness.

Within the Book of Mormon, compassion toward immigrants is a recurring theme. In the Book of Alma, the People of Ammon flee their homeland due to persecution, and immigrate to the land of the Nephites. Not only do the Nephites allow the People of Ammon to freely enter their country, the Nephites provide these refugees with their own tracts of land, protect them from their foreign persecutors, and almost immediately begin to refer to them as “our brethren.” Perhaps due in part to the hospitality provided to them, the People of Ammon became firm in the faith of Christ, forever known as a “highly favored people of the Lord.” A welcoming attitude was also extended when the People of Limhi migrated to the land of the Nephites, where they were received by the king of the Nephites with great joy. Similarly, another group of foreign immigrants, the Mulekites, were later accepted into Nephite society. Time after time, the Nephites made great efforts to assist immigrants transition to life in a new land.

Rebecca’s article is too long to fully set out or even summarize well here. She discusses a number of areas — including LDS history of immigration; scriptural mandates; and missionary work — in arriving at her conclusion that an LDS approach to immigration could exist, and that it would be distinct and humane. (For those with access to the journal, such as through Westlaw, Lexis, or a library, I definitely recommend the article.)

What do our readers think? What does it mean to have a humane response to immigration questions? Which church principles should we consider in this area of law, and how should they affect our analysis?

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116 Responses to A humane approach to immigration

  1. David Grua on January 19, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    I’ve heard that 2/3 of the Latino membership in the U.S. is undocumented. Does anyone have a way to verify that? I also understand that evangelical churches have come around to being pro-immigration, simply because the majorities of some of their congregations are either undocumented or have relatives that are undocumented. It’s difficult to keep people in the pews when politically you’re against them. Perhaps this is phenomenon is also influencing our leadership?

  2. Joel on January 19, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Considering that most immigration law has historically been based on racist assumptions. I’m glad that the church pushes us to remember that immigrants–both illegal and legal–are children of God as well. I think that we as members of the church understand the pull between the drive for happiness and the drive to obey the law (think polygamy). The bottom line of American business has always been the driving force for immigrations, both legal and illegal. Until we deal with the underlying economic forces that pull immigrants here to the United States–which I don’t think most Americans are willing to do–American immigration policy will always be hypocritical.

  3. Jeremy on January 19, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    As I read the comments following the Deserent News article online, I was dismayed to see the number of church members posting comments along the lines of “Sure, compassion, but what about following the law?!”

    What seemed to be entirely missing from this mindset, and from the mindset of many anti-immigrant members I’ve met since I moved to Utah a few months ago, is that the question here isn’t just about enforcing laws, but creating the laws that constitute immigration policy. And people simply don’t want laws changed to better accommodate the economic demand for immigrant labor. They want to be able to simultaneously benefit from immigrant labor and resent immigrants. Most people simply don’t seem to see both parts of the immigration problem: the demand for labor AND the need for secure borders. They only see the latter, and too often exercise little compassion in considering the forces that compel an immigrant to come to this country illegally to work.

    In southern Utah, where I grew up, the tone of the current immigration controversy has turned terribly sour. It seems to have become socially acceptable to say extraordinarily racist things about immigrants, and even to move the discussion away from “illegal” immigration to more xenophobic rants about how all the Mexicans commit all the crimes and about how inconvenient it is to have to press “1” for English.

  4. Russell Arben Fox on January 19, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I’m enormously sympathetic to anyone who wants to articulate themes of social democracy and social justice in the Mormon context, but I have to admit that this particular passage makes me dubious of Sister van Uitert’s thesis:

    Within the Book of Mormon, compassion toward immigrants is a recurring theme. In the Book of Alma, the People of Ammon flee their homeland due to persecution, and immigrate to the land of the Nephites. Not only do the Nephites allow the People of Ammon to freely enter their country, the Nephites provide these refugees with their own tracts of land, protect them from their foreign persecutors, and almost immediately begin to refer to them as “our brethren.”

    But of course they refer to the people of Ammon as “our brethren”–because they are brethren of the Nephite majority. To welcome them home, offer them land and protection, isn’t so much a matter of being compassionate towards immigrants as it recognizing the return of a expatriate group of citizens. The Book of Mormon suggests much, I think, in the direction of compassion and social justice, but this story doesn’t move us very far along that path.

  5. Matt Evans on January 19, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Here’s what I posted on the Deseret News thread:

    I wonder what the church means by “compassion”. It’s not like any of Utah’s lawmakers have denied that illegal immigrants are human beings or have argued against immigration itself. The issue the lawmakers are concerned with is line-jumping — what to do with those who push those waiting in line in order to get what they want. There are many people in Mexico and around the world waiting in line to emigrate to America, and “compassion” would seemingly require us to protect those playing fairly, which means making those who pushed their way ahead of them to get back in line.

  6. mlu on January 19, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Forgiveness comes to mind. We have all done things that were in violation of this or that code of conduct and a world that never forgets is not humane. Someone who came here illegally 40 years ago and has since then faithfully obeyed the laws of the land and worked hard to earn a living and raised a family in this country and lost most meaningful ties to his village in Mexico–who would be willing to ignore his pleas for mercy and force him onto a southward bus?

    Respect for a nation’s laws also comes to mind. Much of our understanding of the rule of law has developed from a centuries-long attempt by Jewish and Christian peoples to understand and live by the Bible. The nation has a right preserve its cultural and legal character by passing and enforcing laws about such matters as immigration.

    Equality before the law comes to mind. It would seem unwise to undermine that foundational principle of our polity–deriving from the truth that we are all created in the image of God–by allowing a system that leads to various classes of inhabitants: some with full rights and privileges, some in a shadowy realm without much security.

  7. Adam Greenwood on January 19, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    I think a hardline approach to immigration can easily be done without demonizing immigrants. One can take serious steps soberly and without hate. Of course some people would like to argue that any policy stricter than the one they favor is therefore hateful, but that’s not worth taking seriously.

  8. Matt Evans on January 19, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    MLU, I agree that some form of statute-of-limitations is in order. After some time of refusing to enforce the law, we consent to ignore it.

  9. mlu on January 19, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    After some time of refusing to enforce the law, we consent to ignore it.

    Nicely said.

  10. Mike L. (fka Horebite) on January 19, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    I served most of my mission as a Spanish-speaking missionary in Las Vegas. I’m sure many of the people I taught were in the country illegally, although we didn’t talk about it except for some cases where people felt the need to bring it up. I’ve seen with my own eyes women crying as they tell us stories of trying to get across the border with their babies, being lied to by the coyotes, and almost dying after being left in the middle of nowhere. They felt they had no choice but to come to the United States, seeing no future for their families where they were. How could I not have compassion on them?

    On the other hand, I am a conservative that believes in the rule of law and secure borders. For a long time I struggled to reconcile these two seemingly opposing sides, both of which I saw as right. But I think I have reconciled the two.

    The way I see it, I don’t put much blame on the illegal immigrants. If I was in their position, I’d probably come here too, illegal or not. Those who say, “Well, they should have come here legally” are ignoring the fact that not everyone gets to come that applies. An unskilled worker would have almost no chance of getting in. If I had the choice of staying in Mexico, were I’m destined for poverty or worse, or living in another country illegally and having opportunities to thrive, I’d probably choose the latter. But at the same time, how is it fair to the people that do apply legally and are rejected, or have the wait a long time, that others can get in illegally?

    I think the blame lies on 3 parties: (1) The US government, for not securing our border, (2) the Mexican government, for ignoring the problem of poverty in their country and using the US as their welfare system, and (3) US companies who take advantage of people who are powerless.

    The first thing that must be done is to secure our border. That is not inhumane. It doesn’t hurt those that are already here, and that would go a long way to solving the problem. This would also put the pressure on Mexico to solve the problem of poverty within their borders (which would then attract some of those here illegally to return to Mexico). The second thing to do is to crack down on businesses that take advantage of cheap labor. If you can’t do business by the rules, you don’t deserve to be in business.

    This last point is difficult because it does mean some illegal aliens will be out of work and cause more suffering. How do I justify this? While it is a Christian value to be compassionate, it is also a Christian value to be fair. Employing illegal aliens cheaply is not fair to business who play by the rules, and not fair to those who want to come here but are denied. And it is sometimes even not fair to the employees, who are often manipulated by their employers because of their status. So as long as we’re talking about how Christian compassion plays into the immigration debate, how about we also include how Christian fairness plays in?

    I am disappointing in some of the rhetoric from the conservative side that sometimes as elements of racism. Before I learned Spanish, I saw Latin American people as foreign. After learning to speak their language, I realized they are much like us. When you walk by them in the supermarket, they are saying the same things we do: “Why does this cost so much?” and “Please stop poking your brother”. Not all, or even most, conservative views on the subject are motivated by racism, but some are.

  11. Ellis on January 19, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    It is not unusual for people to look for a scapegoat to lay blame for their economic and other woes on. I think we have to be really careful not to do that in our public debate about immigration. It is my understanding that there is a large portion of illegals who fly in with a visas and simply stay. A large portion of this group is made up of Asians. Why is it we are only concerned about Hispanics?

    People who deal drugs and are involved in criminal gangs should be prosecuted and incarcerated in the US. Sending them back where they came from so they can just come back again doesn’t seem to me to be a very good way of keeping our streets safe. I am more concerned about this kind of lawlessness than I am people who might be here illegally but are in every other way peaceful and law abiding.

  12. Alan on January 19, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    The full article is available here for the time being: http://www.stjohns.edu/academics/graduate/law/journals/catholiclegal/issues/46-2

  13. Bob on January 19, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    #5: “The issue the lawmakers are concerned with is line-jumping —.” I don’t believe this. I don’t believe if they got the 20 million illegals out (somehow), they would say: “bring in the next 20 million at the head of the line.” I also believe the guy who had worked 4 years in Las Vegas as a cook, would not (someway), find himself now at the “head of the line.”

  14. Last Lemming on January 19, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    I wonder what the church means by “compassion”.

    If they actually said “reintroduce” an element of compassion as the DN article states, then it is fairly clear what they mean. The longer this goes on, the more obvious it is about race and culture and that law enforcement is a smokescreen. You (generically, not Matt Evans specifically) reintroduce compassion by dropping the nativist rhetoric and devising a plan than meets the domestic demand for labor while controlling the border going forward.

    The second thing to do is to crack down on businesses that take advantage of cheap labor.

    Then the third thing to do is to crack down on consumers who purchase goods made with cheap labor. Oh wait…that would be everybody.

  15. Peter LLC on January 19, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    It is ridiculously difficult to enter the US legally. On the other hand, it is easy to live here illegally. Illegal immigration follows. Until hardliners make life more difficult for everyone in the US, including its own citizens, it is foolish to expect dramatic changes.

  16. jrl on January 19, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Mike L.:
    Thank you so much for that post. I describe a lot of my experiences as well. I am pretty conservative and served a Spanish-speaking mission in California. I remember the first time an investigator told me that he was illegal. My companion didn’t bat an eye. As we walked out, I asked what do we do, since he can’t get baptized. My companion looked at me and asked why not. Well, he’s illegal, I replied. And so is the bishopric, he said. I was shocked. But, aside from my tangent, I think that the Church is simply asking people to address the issue the way that they should – rationally, without the lunacy and finger-pointing that so often characterizes both sides of the debate on this issue (you know, one side must be racist and the other side must be anarchist).

  17. Jason J on January 19, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    This topic has been one of intense interest to me for some time, so please forgive me if my post runs long.

    I think Church history also sheds some let on this issue. I wish that members who feel they have a duty to rail against “illegals” would consider the similarity between the current anti-immigrant hysteria and the anti-Mormon frenzy of days past. At a Christian convention in 1888, Reverend A.S. Bailey spoke of the Mormons as bringing a “spirit hostile to American ideas.” This was a familiar charge. Presidential candidates routinely railed against the “Mormon problem” to fire up the masses. Mormons were often European immigrants. Most were uneducated. They were socialists (I’m exaggerating, but not that much). And their polygamous lifestyle was an “oriental abomination.” Such rhetoric is strikingly similar to Pat Buchanan-style handwringing about preserving current American culture from corrupting foreign influences.

    One of the earliest federal immigration restrictions sought to keep polygamists out. It was aimed both at the Chinese and the Mormons. One enterprising governor sought to fix the “problem” by issuing an extermination order. Many law-abiding Missourians sought to “enforce the law” by driving Mormons from the state on threat of death. Eventually driven to Utah, the Mormons continued to break the law with their polygamous ways. Consequently, they were disenfranchised in Idaho and their leaders sent into exile. Many Mormons could only find peace in -of all places – Mexico .

    So before we drive “illegals” from the country, we should consider that immigration law is not an abstract truth about who can live here. It is a political creation much like Boggs’ extermination order (though of a different type). America developed a habit in the 19th century of using the law to systematically exclude undesirable groups: Irish, Chinese, Mexicans, and even MORMONS.

    So for me, it’s not as easy as simply “enforcing the law.” Like Jeremy said in #3, it is really a question of what the law ought to be. My own view is that we should at a minimum let in enough immigrant laborers to satisfy demand – something our current irrational quotas don’t even approach. If you prefer scriptures to economics, it seems the Law of Moses had something to say about this:

    “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.”
    – Exodus. 12: 49

  18. Kevin Barney on January 19, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    I’m afraid I’m not knowledgeable on immigration issues, so perhaps I shouldn’t say anything at all. But I did want to express that I think this desire for compassion in the process is at least in part a funciton of our missionary program. We have thousands of anglo members who have spent two years of their lives with peoples south of our border, and grew to see them as fellow human beings and love and appreciate them deeply. How many other communities, religioius or otherwise, have that kind of leavening influence among them? It seems to me that that sense of compassion, which arises from so many of our people actually living among our southern friends in their own communities, is a significant element behind this call that Kaimi reports.

  19. Matt Evans on January 19, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    “I don’t believe if they got the 20 million illegals out (somehow), they would say: ‘bring in the next 20 million at the head of the line.'”

    Unless we want to remove immigration laws and allow anyone to immigrate, we have to have rules to determine who gets in, even if it’s a lottery. There’s a democratic process to figure out what those rules should be, but there’s no doubt the number we’re currently admitting legally is lower than it would be absent illegal immigration. Americans are strongly pro-immigration — for humanitarian, economic and libertarian reasons — and I, speaking as a mainstream conservative, would be happy to increase the number admitted legally. I’ve met enough time with people trying to enter through the front door (Spain and Chile), to understand their resentment toward those going through the windows and increasing demands at the front door.

  20. mlu on January 19, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    #14 I get really tired of arguments that everything is “really” about race. I think it’s pretty obvious that most people who wish laws would be enforced really wish laws would be enforced.

  21. Kaimi Wenger on January 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    MLU,

    I agree that many people who wish for more stringent enforcement today are not racists.

    On the other hand, it’s absolutely clear that the implementation of federal immigration law and policy for about a century _was_ based on racial ideas, such as the idea that some racial groups were more desirable immigrants.

    And in addition, many proponents of stricter policies _do_ use explicit race-baiting tactics. For example, it’s hard to look at Pat Buchanan’s “meatball” ad — aired just eight years ago — as anything other than race-baiting.

    The combination of history of racist assumptions underlying immigration law, along with the presence of a vocal group of anti-immigrant commenters who do seem to harbor racist ideas, leads some folks to conclude that most immigration opponents are indeed racist.

    I think it would be great if non-racist proponents of stricter law enforcement were driving their side of the debate. Historically, I’m not sure that that has been the case.

  22. Bob on January 19, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    #19 “Americans are strongly pro-immigration…..you must read different history books than I do.
    #20: But why THIS law? And why only against the Poor and the Brown?

  23. Kaimi Wenger on January 19, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Matt,

    Society implicitly consents to underenforce a lot of laws.

    Tax laws are incredibly underenforced. Speed limits are underenforced. Environmental laws are underenforced. And society is pretty much okay with that. Most people aren’t calling for a ten-fold increase in the IRS to make sure that all tax laws are 100% enforced, or for a huge increase in the EPA to result in 100% enforcement of all environmental laws, or for cops to be increased and absolutely catch anyone who drives 30 in a 25 zone.

    I personally know people who have violated environmental laws. I personally know folks who have violated tax laws, for many years. And I’m personally guilty of violating the speed limit, on a regular basis.

    Against that backdrop of sporadic law enforcement in a number of areas — including immigration — the push for ultra-strict enforcement begins to look potentially problematic: Why enforce _these_ laws, all of a sudden?

  24. Natalie on January 19, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    If we take the line that most US citizens are more concerned with laws being enforced than with demonizing people of other races, I wonder why the same feelings of resentment that we see directed at illegal immigrants are not directed at US employers who are also breaking the law through illegal hiring practices. If anything, I think we treat with pity this group of people who \”need\” immigrant labor. Why are these \”illegals\” not targets of resentment, if the only thing we resent is law breaking?

    I think that we should a) cease to incentivize illegal immigrants by cracking down on employers and b) allow more immigrants to come legally.

  25. Jason J on January 19, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    #20 – I agree that there is a lot of noise out there about race that makes it hard to know what is racism and what is not, so I’m sympathetic to your impatience with cries of racism. Still, I wonder why there is such a hue and cry over failure to enforce immigration laws when there is only silence in other areas of the law.

    My favorite analogy is speeding. Everybody knows that speed limits are under-enforced, and most Mormons have no problem breaking that law. (I was recently visiting Utah for the first time in a while, and I was amazed out how fast traffic moves. Of course, I was happy to keep up.) If the speed limit of I-15 (or I-90 where I live) were suddenly changed to 10 mph, would anybody be citing the Articles of Faith to justify jailing the dastardly speeders?? Or would we all do the rational thing and petition our lawmakers to enact a more rational policy, one that would not cripple the economy if enforced? I’m pretty sure we would do the latter, because there are no xenophobic currents underlying the speed limit.

    Of course, keeping as many immigrants out of the country as possible might have some benefits, such as a decrease in crime. We could similarly argue that lowering the speed limit down to nothing on the interstate highway system would virtually end highway deaths. But at what cost? It seems to me that people are far quicker to beg for enforcement of our irrational immigration laws than they would be in other contexts. If you’re a “law and order” conservative, then you should oppose unenforceable laws that undermine the legitimacy of the legal system in the minds of the public – at least when it comes to “malum prohibitum” laws.

  26. Clark on January 19, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    I agree with those who note that a big problem in the debate is that the laws and bureaucracy for immigration are horribly broken. It’s kind of silly to talk about enforcing the law when the law is so bad. Having said that though it is also patently unfair for Mexicans to be able to basically come here as they want, pay $500 for a stolen ID, and then start working as Americans. Why should Mexicans be given a special treatment that say Chinese don’t get? I think that is what gets some peoples goat.

    I’m all for fixing the horribly broken immigration policy. Right now it’s very hard for relatively unskilled workers to immigrate when arguably that’s what we need.

    We also need a worker’s permit system so we can have low skilled workers come and do the manual labor many Americans are unwilling to do. (Although to be fair a lot of that “unwillingness” is an unwillingness at the pay scale usually offered)

  27. Clark on January 19, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    I think it would be great if non-racist proponents of stricter law enforcement were driving their side of the debate. Historically, I’m not sure that that has been the case.

    That’s a really unfair approach to the issue since it looks at the past to make claims about peoples intents in the present. By that way of thinking all the people in Planned Parenthood promoting abortion and birth control really are about racism and eugenics.

    But of course the folks who make the historical claims about immigration motivations aren’t the ones making historical claims about almost anything else. It’s a huge double standard.

    The problem is that what was true of immigration even 50 years ago when America was still very underpopulated and the kinds of jobs quite different simply isn’t true today. Especially when many lower skilled jobs simply aren’t available to Americans at reasonable salaries. There is a huge shift today in the economics of the work force due to automation, globalization, and the move to the information service technologies. 50 years ago you could get a pretty good job doing assembly in various manufacturing sectors. Not any longer. Ditto with a lot of construction (unless you move to Alberta).

    I’m not saying the stereotypes are all fair. In fact I’m saying the opposite. The stereotypes that Americans won’t work the jobs Mexicans do isn’t fair. The stereotype that Mexicans have depressed all the lower skilled jobs so Americans can’t afford to work them isn’t true. The streotype that Mexicans are all working in farms or as nannies doing jobs Americans won’t isn’t true. The sterotype that Mexicans are all here using fake SSN and driver’s licenses and taking good American jobs isn’t true. But there is a little bit of truth to all these stereotypes (including the racism one).

    The problem is that very rarely is the debate conducted in terms of such complexities.

  28. Mike L. (fka Horebite) on January 19, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    #14: Yes, I understand that cheap labor means cheaper products. I know that consumers demand cheap products, and in general it is a good thing for companies to find new ways to cut costs. But when they break the law in order to gain an unfair competitive advantage, that’s crossing the line. Baseball fans demand that the players get better, but that doesn’t justify the players using steroids.

    So I don’t really understand what you have against enforcing the law that companies hire people who are authorized to work. If you want to talk about changing the law about who’s authorized to work, then I’m ok with that, but in the meantime we should enforce the law. Comparing this law to speeding is a stretch, in my opinion. Speeding doesn’t allow me to get such a competitive advantage over those that don’t speed that I prevent them from driving (comparing speeders to businesses that hire unauthorized workers).

    I knew a member of the church who owned a ranch and lived in a mansion. On the other side of the ranch lived 5-6 young men in a place that resembled where the horses lived. They got $500 a month (plus they didn’t pay rent–but the place they lived would not have passed inspection anyway, so would not be rentable legally). That comes down to about $3 an hour (assuming an 8 hour day, but I think they worked more than that). Now, they were happy to get the pay check, but should that be how we do business? If I wanted to start a ranch in that area, he would be my competitor, and I wouldn’t be able to compete unless I broke the law also. What do you have against enforcing that this rancher play by the rules? And some of those young men ended up going back to Mexico. Apparently the US wasn’t paved in gold like the coyotes told them.

    I agree with those that say we need to overhaul our immigration system to be more fair and meet the needs of business. But I’m curious about the claim that there is a great demand for labor. When there is a great demand for something, the price goes up. So how do we explain people being paid $3 an hour to work on a ranch? How do you explain that the unemployment rate is apparently increasing? There is a great demand for cheap labor. Of course, there’s always a great demand for something you can get cheaply.

  29. we on January 19, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Many immigrants who risk crossing the United States border do so because they are living in hell. They do so at considerable cost and effort to themselves and usually to their extended families.

    Mexico, in the scheme of nations, isn\’t that poor; there are many much more impoverished nations in Mexico. The politicians in Mexico nationally and locally are impoverished as to their ethics and moral behavior. Many of those with money, power, and position lord it over those who are poor and who possess no power or position.

    The United States has not done all it can politically or economically to influence Mexico to clean up its corruption. By the same token, the United States in not enforcing its laws has also impoverished itself as to ethics and morals. It is easy pickings to say that those who crossed the border are breaking the law. If you were in hell, what might you do to get out? Especially, when all around you, you see corruption and political ineptness.

    Undocumented immigrants for the most part have no voice. They cannot speak out at the risk of being ridiculed, discriminated against, or sent back to hell. We all should learn more and take compassion on them and hold accountable those who have the power and position to do something different.

  30. we on January 19, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    That should be “than Mexico” not “in Mexico”

  31. Jack on January 19, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    I work in a machine shop. I’m the only Anglo–all the other workers are Hispanic. I speak Spanish all day long–it’s wonderful. One of my co-workers is a sweet guy from Peru. He and his sister waited nine years to get into the U.S.–they did it by the book. I think the long wait on the part of the honest might be shortened a little if we had less illegals. The market would make sure of that. Also, tougher immigration policies might force manufacturers to build on the other side of the border–more than they’re already doing, at any rate. That, IMO, would be a good thing for Mexico, and, by extension, the whole immigration problem.

  32. Mark D. on January 19, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Mexico is a democracy. They are perfectly capable of fixing their own economic and political problems – the electorate simply needs the will to carry out the necessary reforms. If anything illegal immigration simply delays the day of reckoning, possibly causing more people to suffer longer.

    South Korea in 1953 was virtually leveled, the populace on the border of starvation, the local language and culture suppressed for half a century under a hostile imperialist occupation. Look at them now – less than two generations later. It is not as if it is impossible to turn your economy around.

  33. we on January 19, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    The United States is a democracy. It hasn’t taken care of all of its problems relative to immigration, although it is perfectly capable of doing so under your theory. Being a democracy doesn’t make the people who have power or prestige moral individuals. It doesn’t make living in hell any less like living in hell either or wanting to get out. What the blog is about is finding compassion in sorting through these problems. It is easy to point the finger at the person who crosses the border but that isn’t the bigger problem and most of us know that. Do we have the political will to tackle the bigger problems given our democracy in a compassionate way?

  34. Bob on January 19, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    This is not just a “Mexican” problem. There may be an illegal guy sitting right next to you right now, as you type, and you don’t even see him! That’s because he lives in India or China and ‘commutes’ daily (by the 100,000s), to America, by computer, for his work day. I am sure there are illegal PhDs teaching at your college, and illegal doctors/nurses in you hospitals.

    I accept my share of this problem. My teenage son never mowed the lawn, He had to study for college, I would go to his baseball games after I taped the money to the gate, for a Mexican illegal guy to cut the grass for him/me!

  35. mlu on January 20, 2008 at 12:29 am

    I agree that racism played a large part in our past.

    In the present, I rarely encounter racism, except from the left, where people really do seem to think nearly everything is about race. Though I think racists are rare, I think the next worst thing, anti-racists, white liberals whose identity as superior beings depends on them forever identifying and unmasking racists, are quite common. I think they do lots of harm.

    I would like immigration laws enforced for all sorts of reasons that seem self-evident to me.

    I would also like compassion to play a part in figuring out how to go forward from the current situation. I would also like people to quit accusing people who have rational reasons for their policy preferences of such thought crimes as racism and nativism.

    Race doesn’t enter into my thinking about it. Many of the people in my family that I truly love are Hispanic. Even more are Native American. My genetic heritage runs mostly to England. Even if I thought my family were a different race than I am, I wouldn’t be sure what that means or where to draw the lines. Are my grandchildren–three generations separated from Mexico–a different race than me? I don’t know. It’s a completely uninteresting and meaningless concept to me.

    People who bring race into the conversation usually strike me as a bit demented, certain that they are surrounded by secret sinners. More and more I suspect they’re projecting their own internal struggles onto everyone else. Nothing else I can think of quite accounts for what seems to me a weird hysteria.

  36. James on January 20, 2008 at 1:01 am

    Once upon a time, there really was no real need to secure our national borders and people could come and go as they pleased. That time is probably gone forever. While the first immigration laws were based on bigotry, controls are now needed to protect the people of the nation from harm. I struggle with the blind eye that the church has turned toward this issue. It smacks of a situational ethics perspective and makes a mockery of the 12th article of faith. Nevertheless, I agree that even lawbreakers are best treated with kindness and courtesy. There’s no crime in wanting to get the lowest prices for goods and services, nor is there in wanting to earn a better life for oneself and one’s family. The real bad guys here are the individual business owners and managers that are willing to hire people who are here illegally and exploit them to gain an advantage over the competition.

  37. Jeremy on January 20, 2008 at 1:01 am

    MLU says: “In the present, I rarely encounter racism, except from the left, where people really do seem to think nearly everything is about race.”

    Then you live a charmed life. This afternoon my wife and I were tabulating the number of racist comments we have heard just in the last two weeks among members of the Utah ward we moved into a few months ago.

    It came to something like half a dozen racial epithets against African Americans, four against Mexicans, and one against American Indians.

  38. Mark D. on January 20, 2008 at 1:19 am

    I think it is a bit of a stretch to claim that living in any area that is not experiencing an active genocide is living in “hell”. The economic argument I mentioned is not specific to Mexico – it is universally applicable to every country, to one degree or another. They should reform their economies so that their citizens can prosper where they are at. Large out immigration is a sign of failure. The best way to fix it is to quit failing.

    To the degree we have any immigration laws at all, it seems that the only reasonable way to be more humane in their enforcement is to give violators a reasonable grace period to get their affairs in order, move back to their country of origin, and apply to immigrate legally.

    For example, in Utah we currently have driving privilege cards for illegal immigrants. Considering that the holders are breaking the law, these cards should expire one year from issue, and not be renewed after that unless there is a change of legal status. That would certainly be more humane than refusing to issue any such cards at all. Employment could be treated the same way. There is nothing humane about deporting or unemploying a family on a moment’s notice, violator or not.

  39. mlu on January 20, 2008 at 2:01 am

    #37

    Maybe.

    Groups that have different norms but live in proximity to each other often say rude things about each other, using the familiar labels. I live in a place where there’s a lot of that. I’ve had people say quite rude things to me using a derogatory racial term for people of my race. But it wasn’t racist. They were just upset at me and were saying that I was like other people like me, which was true. Very little of it, and maybe none of it, strikes me as racist. Unless, of course, disliking or disagreeing with the way other people live is racist. If that’s the definition, then people who use terms like “racist,” “nativist” etc. would qualify as racist. People who tally the racist remarks of others would be racist.

  40. Matt Evans on January 20, 2008 at 2:44 am

    Kaimi #23,

    We should enforce immigration laws because they’re unfair to those who voluntary heed them and are stuck in line. Unless we’re going to remove all immigration restrictions, we have to set the rules, and fairness demands that protect those who follow them from being cheated. Whether we assume Americans have high or low tolerance and affection for immigration, illegal immigrants eat into that tolerance at the expense of the people waiting in line.

    I think your comparison to taxes is a good one — compliance for all taxes is astonishingly high. Compliance rates for sales taxes are great, property tax compliance rates are almost 100%, and people get a quick letter from the IRS if they report a smaller number on their 1040 than their employer did on their W-2. While of course enforcement isn’t perfect, and the underground economy is real, Americans don’t give a trillion dollars to the government because they want to.

  41. we on January 20, 2008 at 2:50 am

    You define “hell” in your limited way. I prefer to use the common definition and I find it part of the problem to use a distorted definition like you choose to. No one would argue that those facing massive genocide are in hell. That doesn’t mean poor families facing destruction because of the abuse of the political and cultural systems in place don’t live in hell.

    I agree that immigration without documentation isn’t just a problem with Mexico. However, those emigrating from Mexico to the U.S. number the greatest in the overall scheme of things. Furthermore, the Mexicans seem to reap most of the disdain and ridicule of many insensitive citizens of the U.S. Additionally, Mexico is much more proximate to the U.S. than the other nations, which contribute to the problem. Nonetheless Mexico isn’t too poor in the overall scheme of things. However, the majority of the Mexican people, who have the money, resources, and power in Mexico, hold those who don’t hostage, almost enslaving them. They seem to like the system of class and corruption and seek its perpetuation. So the poor minority has little, almost no, political clout, democracy or not, and little, almost no, hope of getting any. The people in Mexico with the power to change are oppressors.

    So this all seems to require international political action, one the U.S. could play a role in. What has the U.S. done internationally? What should they do internationally? Without starting internationally, whatever we do domestically won’t work. And sending jobs south will only help if the spoils system south of the border is eliminated or at least addressed in a realistic, accoutable way.

  42. plvmetz on January 20, 2008 at 10:25 am

    I think we should make things better for illegal and legal immigrants. The \”lower law\” says very clearly that one shouldn\’t pay substandard wages and benefits, one should not keep immigrants from having full legal rights in court, and immigrants deserve the right to gather all the food they need. One would assume that the \”higher law\” would be even more generous. Hooray for Rebecca van Uitert!

    I formed these views more than twenty years ago, when I almost got stuck in Mexico without ID or money. The thought came to me that I had not earned more of a right to go to a rich and prosperous place more than they. Now I am a U.S. citizen living outside the U.S. and there are times my son gets teased and harrassed for being American. Being an immigrant is already hard enough. Our legal policies should bring dignity to all human beings, even if they are happy being themselves instead of wanting to be like us.

    Deut. 24: 14, 17, 19-21
    14 ¶ Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:
    • • •
    17 ¶ Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge:
    • • •
    19 ¶ When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.
    20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
    21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.

  43. Jeremy on January 20, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Groups that have different norms but live in proximity to each other often say rude things about each other, using the familiar labels. I live in a place where there’s a lot of that. I’ve had people say quite rude things to me using a derogatory racial term for people of my race. But it wasn’t racist.

    I am overwhelmed by the generosity of your spirit.

  44. Peter LLC on January 20, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Mark D. (32),

    Good point. South Korea is a great example of a nation pulling itself up by its bootstraps.

    Now just try to immigrate and lead a productive, fulfilling and integrated life there. As an American you’ll already have a huge leg up on more local foreigners, but it’s not gonna be easy.

  45. Bob on January 20, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    #36: “# “Once upon a time, there really was no real need to secure our national borders and people could come and go as they pleased. That time is probably gone forever.”
    No, the day of the national border is gone. Just look around the world for a “secured border”. I don;t think you will find one. Nations may be “secured” by their race (Japan, China) or their language, or their legal documents (passports,or visas), but not by “borders”.

  46. Mark D. on January 20, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Peter LLC, I know a good number of expatriates in Korea who enjoy it there. But I don’t think South Korea is particularly open to long term immigration, as a matter of culture if nothing else. Either way it is irrelevant. The idea is for countries to prosper enough so mass emigration isn’t attractive.

    Bob, the border between North and South Korea has ample physical security, to put it mildly. So does the border between Israel and the West Bank. It is not like it is a physical or fiscal impossibility to build a wall on our southern border. I agree that physical security alone is inadequate, however.

  47. Bob on January 20, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    #46: Mark, I stand corrected, Korea it is ‘secured’. But It took a million lives (50,000+ American boys), 50 years, a 4 way stop (guards on both sides enforcing and killing those coming or going), and many billions of dollars.( And maybe not too many wanting to cross anyway.)
    I am not sure I agree on Israel.
    I saw a Mexican comic on TV who said 10ft. walls will sell 11ft. ladders, and Americans would build gates in the walls so people could get to work, and if the guards don’t shot, you might as well put clickers in their hands.

  48. Stephen M (Ethesis) on January 20, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    They felt they had no choice but to come to the United States, seeing no future for their families where they were

    In fact, we facilitate oppression in Mexico by the way we handle things here. I’m not sure what the proper solution is either, though at present the governmental position in Mexico is that they own the right to illegal immigration (including exercising the right to vigorously punish those from other countries trying to come through Mexico to the U.S.).

    It is a quagmire, far beyond my ability at present to figure out, though I do agree that one thing we can do is act with compassion on an individual level.

    Comment by Mike L. (fka Horebite) — 1/19/2008 @ 4:43 pm, btw, if you wanted to compete with the rancher in the mansion, the easy thing to do would be to have a lower standard of living than he has, which would allow you to divert the difference to paying your hands.

    What can I say? I contract with a cleaning service for help at the house, and the person that I deal with is legal. We go to a laundry that has legal workers. It is possible, you just have to accept the cost.

  49. Rebecca van Uitert on January 20, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Wow. It looks like I’ve arrived a little late to my own party. Thanks, Kaimi, for the undeserved attention you’ve paid my article.

    While I don’t have time to respond to all of the comments, I would love it if we could refocus the discussion back to Kaimi’s original query: “What does it mean to have a humane response to immigration questions?”

    For me, the answer is simple. The ultimate Human has already given us the answer of how to be humane, both through His words and through His actions. Love one another. Give to the poor and the needy. Don’t judge others. Forgive others their trespasses. Be your brother’s keeper. Are we not all beggars? Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me. These simple gospel lessons have vast application to the debate surrounding immigrants.

    A humane response focuses on the development/fulfillment of human potential. Not just the development/fulfillment of U.S. citizens, or Latter-day Saints, or any other particular group, but of all of God’s children, whoever or wherever they may be. If we truly believe that we are created in God’s image, then we should naturally support measures that will develop the divinity that dwells within every human. Reducing the issue to a dichotomy of law-abiding v. law-breaking sorely misses the point.

  50. Anonymous on January 20, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Several months ago upon hearing some rather xenophobic (yes, I know that’s a fighting word) statements from someone I know in Utah, my comment was “And since when did we stop being Christians?”

    That pretty much sums up my entire view of the debate on immigration.

    However, I would personally like to be able to hire undocumented workers – – I even know how to locate them here in a community east of the Mississippi, north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and just on the boundary of suburbia and rural America. The cost of labor is so high and skilled” workers often turn out to be winging it in a big way.

    But, the catch is that my husband has expressed interest in working in government at some point. If he ever decides to go this route, having hired illegal workers has killed many a candidate for a top government post. So we’re just not going there. As Stephen M (Ethesis) said, we’ll deal with the cost.

  51. Jack on January 20, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Rebecca,

    I agree we should help the poor all we can, but nevertheless:

    “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order…”

    To magnanimously open the borders to one and all would be disastrous. So the question isn’t just one of compassion. At some point we will have to zero in on a policy that makes sense–albeit, a compassionate one.

  52. smb on January 20, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Rebecca, could you post your paper on SSRN? Would facilitate dialogue substantially (oman can show you how to do it).

  53. Mark D. on January 20, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Rebecca,

    By that logic, it is also incumbent upon us to do the following:

    Repeal all building codes
    Repeal all zoning laws
    Repeal all environmental regulations
    Repeal all tariffs
    Repeal corporate average fuel efficiency requirements
    Eliminate mandatory licensing for doctors, lawyers, teachers, and other professionals
    Eliminate mandatory auto insurance.

    Each of these things causes the poor to suffer in a very real way. They are inhumane and discriminate in favor of the knowledgable, the qualified, and the wealthy. So where do we start?

  54. Struwelpeter on January 20, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Building codes, zoning laws, environmental regulations and tariffs repress the divinity that dwells within every human?

  55. California Condor on January 21, 2008 at 12:18 am

    From an economic standpoint, free markets are best. It is best to have a free labor market so that demand for labor can meet the supply for labor. So therefore, it is best to have completely open borders. I am in favor of granting instant American citizenship to anyone in the world who desires it. It is the optimum solution.

    Anyone who claims otherwise does not understand economics.

  56. bonny on January 21, 2008 at 1:07 am

    I do think illegals who speak English and have a clean criminal record should be allowed to take the Citizenship test, and if they pass, let them in. Our housekeeper has been here illegally for 11 years. Her daughter came with her (illegally) and has essentially grown up here. She is an excellent student, speaks perfect English and is worried because she isn\’t sure where she can go to college. Like it or not, she is here to stay. If she went back to Guatemala now, where would she fit? She\’s too educated, too exposed to a better way of life. There is a rather large population of illegals in this same boat. I understand that one can say, \”they came here illegally, they knew what they were getting themselves into\”, but really, they can\’t go back. And the reality is they won\’t get sent back. So I think we should allow them citizenship and know that they will help make the US a better place.

  57. A Friend of an Illegal on January 21, 2008 at 1:08 am

    My wife is a legal immigrant from Germany. My home teaching companion is a teen-aged illegal immigrant from Mexico.

    My wife and I paid many hundreds of dollars and filled out a variety of forms and spent countless hours getting her permanent residency established. My home-teaching companion entered the country years ago with his parents.

    My wife has her own social-security card, driver\’s license and passport that allow her to work, travel, and attain credit at will. My home-teaching companion works at a Mexican restaurant three days a week for cash, without so much as a bank account.

    My wife is a fourth- or fifth-generation member of the Church and likes to travel home to Germany to visit her family (much to my wallet\’s dismay). My home-teaching companion got baptized when he was 14 and wants to go on a mission, but will probably be restricted to stay in the country, lest he risk being unable to ever return to his home.

    My wife and I feel like it\’s not fair to have people permanently stay in the country and benefiting from that without having paid, waited, interviewed, processed, and registered, such as we had to do for her. My home-teaching companion and I are glad that he has a small job at a place that treats him well and is willing to pay him cash, and that he is enrolled in a semi-decent high school.

    I don\’t know what the answer to the illegal immigration problem is. On every issue, I\’m torn between arguments of justice and of mercy.

  58. Mark D. on January 21, 2008 at 2:51 am

    California Condor,

    From a purist economic standpoint, it would also be best if we ended free emergency care at the hospitals, free education at the schools, the Social Security system, welfare benefits of all types, the progressive tax system, and so on.

    The modern welfare state operates on the principle of a major cross subsidy between rich and poor. The only way we could sustain an open borders policy is if we either ended virtually all of those benefits and reverted to nineteenth century style laissez faire economic and social policy (not very likely), or let everything suffer and drift into long term economic and social stagnation.

    California is running $14 billion in the red already, in part because of the consequences of the illegal immigration we have now. Imagine that effect multiplied by ten. The real consequence of an open borders policy would be to turn the United States into a country with a mixture of the social conditions of England and Argentina.

  59. Mark B. on January 21, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    I think a hardline approach to immigration can easily be done without demonizing immigrants. One can take serious steps soberly and without hate. Of course some people would like to argue that any policy stricter than the one they favor is therefore hateful, but that’s not worth taking seriously.

    I suspect that Adam is right. We can send ICE out to round up people, separate them from their families, hold them in detention centers and then finally deport them to a country that is no longer theirs, all soberly and without hate. I also suspect that those on the receiving end of such sober, non-hateful treatment will appreciate the loving spirit in which they are treated.

    In response to many comments above, it cannot seriously be argued that the immigration laws are based on anything other than racist, exclusivist principles.

    The first general immigration law passed by Congress was The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Without getting to the details, the name has a nice ring to it.

    The National Quota System, which limits the numbers of immigrants from any one country to the numbers of persons from that country already here, has been the underlying basis for our immigration laws since the early 1920’s.

    If anyone can come up with a neutral basis on which to restrict immigration (other than exclusion of criminals, terrorists, Typhoid Mary, etc.), I would be happy to hear it. Other than the essentially racist bases described above, the major argument in favor of restrictions on immigration is: I got here first, and I’m pulling up the drawbridge behind me.

  60. Bob on January 21, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    #55: “Anyone who claims otherwise does not understand economics” That’s too bold a statement. I am unsure anyone understands economics!
    #58: “From a purist economic standpoint…..”. see above.
    I think “The modern welfare state operates..” better than the older “nineteenth century style laissez faire economics”. It seems like the states with a lot of illegals are doing well. California’s State Budget is a mess, but the state itself is doing very well.

  61. Sean on January 21, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    #59 – U.S. policies and therefore incentives were very different in pre-immigration law times. Individuals immigrating to the U.S. then had little or no governmental benefits, certainly no federal gov’t benefits. I think the amount of direct and indirect benefits and subsidies today make this a very different conversation now.
    I generally would prefer to have immigration laws rolled back, but not until a requisite roll back in subsidies and benefits. I’m hopeful but not confident that will happen.

  62. Lulubelle on January 21, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I am furious that the church even weighed in on this. Sure, they don’t want to influence politics… are you kidding me??? Of course they are, but in the most disingenous way. I am disgusted. They should butt out and let lawmakers and voters decide. When the church weighs in, many members will say, “Oh, the Church believes XYZ so that’s how it should be.” It makes my blood boil.

  63. Mark Brown on January 21, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    A fascinating discussion.

    As far as cracking down on employers and placing the burden of enforcement upon them, forget it. Over the past three years, I have personally employed probably 150 Hispanic men, and they all had the right documentation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if every one of them was in the U.S. illegally. In some Texas border towns, the street price for a driver’s license, social security card, and green card is about 225 dollars. How much effort do we expect an employer to expend in determining whether the papers in front of him are authentic?

    Lulubelle, # 62Pax vobiscum. There is absolutely no danger here of anybody’s mind being changed by what church officials have said. After 60 + comments, it’s pretty clear that nobody has any intention of changing his or her mind based on counsel from the church. That’s why you see the words _compassion_ and _humane_ being parsed to mean _hardline approach_ and _not hateful_. It is only when the brethren speak about the importance of the family that we need to obey instantly.

  64. Lulubelle on January 21, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Mark: Sorry, I was a bit obnoxious in my comment. I stand by what I say but I should’ve said it a lot nicer.

  65. Mark Brown on January 21, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Lulubelle, oh, there is no need to apologize, at least to me. I’m also a little surprised meetings like that take place, although I do not share your frustration.

    I was mostly just pointing out that the fear that is often expressed about the church secretly running everything in Utah is unfounded, based on this thread. We all just assume that our opinions are congruent with GBH’s. We are all cafeteria Mormons, whether we admit it or not.

  66. Mark D. on January 21, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I don’t know of anyone who thinks we should even attempt to round up and deport all existing illegal immigrants. The enforcement policies in dispute are three-fold:

    (1) Increasing physical security along the border.
    (2) Setting up a system of electronic employment eligibility verification
    (3) Denying drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.

    Then let the illegal immigrant population adjust by attrition. My suggested addition is that we have a one year grace period between the time a violator is caught, and when employment or driving privileges are withdrawn. That requires a certain amount of tracking of course. The primary purpose of electronic verification is to shut down the counterfeit industry.

  67. Mark B. on January 21, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Ah, those damned “violators” “illegals” “criminals.”

    Doesn’t anybody ever stop and think how ridiculous it sounds to talk about somebody “working without authorization”? What a horrible thing for someone to do!!! He’s working! Without a permit! God save us all–how can we ever survive??

  68. Mark Brown on January 21, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Mark B.

    Exactly. And the other thing about this conversation that is knee-slappingly funny is the line jumper argument. I’m sure most Mexicans find our concern with fairness to be quite heart-warming.

  69. Bob on January 21, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    #66:”I don’t know of anyone who thinks we should even attempt to round up and deport all existing illegal immigrants.” I.d like to see the vote on that. Amnesty is far from a popular idea.

  70. Bob on January 21, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    #68: I was suppose to be #68!

  71. Mark D. on January 21, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Bob (#69), Attrition is not amnesty.

    Mark B. (#67), It sounds harsh because it is a means to an end. The real problem is illegal immigration, which is a national security problem, a crime problem, and a welfare problem. If anybody can cross the border, we have no way to filter out terrorists and those with criminal records. We depress wages for those who are already here, perpetuate incompetence in numerous foreign countries, push up medical costs, force many hospitals to the brink of bankruptcy, dramatically increase the costs of education and welfare programs, and so on.

    Now if you say that we should make no legal distinction between a legal resident and an illegal one on the basis that that is a purely artificial distinction, I ask why stop there? Why not make everyone in the world eligible for Medicaid and Medicare? No need to have them move here.

    Or even better, why don’t we have a mandatory adoption program where every couple is responsible for providing for a minimum of four children on an equal basis. Why should childless couples be given a free ride? Do couples have any rational basis to prefer their own children over the children of strangers? Isn’t that racism, pure and simple?

  72. Ugly Mahana on January 21, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    #71: Mark B. did not address any of the issues you raise against him. He talked about working. That is a productive exchange – both parties benefit. That the government is seen as the author of the benefits of the exchange such that no exchange may take place without government imprimatur is not only ridiculous but also much more indicative of a threat to my freedom than an open border that no terrorist has yet crossed.

  73. Mark D. on January 21, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    #72, Sorry, illegal immigration is a package deal – unless you are prepared to argue that there are no illegal immigrants with criminal records, that none of them pose a risk to national security, that they do not require a disproportionate amount of subsidized health care and other welfare benefits, that they place no unusual strain on the public education system, and so on. There is an abundant literature demonstrating otherwise.

  74. Bob on January 21, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    #:71:”Attrition “is a failed word from the Vietnam War. (we ended up with “amnesty”).
    Also, most illegals are in their 20s and will being having children. I think we should just take all the money from the richest 20 Americans, and give it to the illegals…and tell them to go home. Yet another problem solved by Bob!

  75. Bob on January 21, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    #73:”require a disproportionate amount of subsidized health care and other welfare benefits.” No, that’s the elderly.

  76. Mark D. on January 21, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    #74: On the contrary, English usage of the term attrition dates from the fourteenth century.

  77. Ron on January 21, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Yay. I feel much better about breaking laws now. There are some that I don\’t like and I have a hard time reconcile my religious obligation to obey them. But since illegal immigrant status does not bar you from any church service or blessings, I\’m going to pick which laws I like and don\’t like. There are plenty of overbearing laws (I\’m not talking about hurting people or damaging people, but rather compliance with regulations, etc.) I know the church once sent an official letter about our duty to pay the income tax, but forget that. I\’m a human being. Next temple rec interview I\’ll mention that I\’m not exactly honest in all my dealings when it comes to compliance with stupid laws and I break some laws. You all think I\’m being sarcastic. I\’m not. I\’m serious.

  78. California Condor on January 21, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Mark D.,

    Immigrants are good for our economy because they are willing to work for lower wages. Would you rather have your grass cut for $50 or $10? With the money you save by employing an immigrant, your life is better. You have more money left over to buy other things. This is the benefit of immigrants.

  79. California Condor on January 21, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Ron,

    During the American Revolution there was a time when it was morally just to dump tea into Boston Harbor because the laws from England were repressive. Repressing humans who want to have the freedom to work as they please is morally unjust and economically harmful. So there is a case to be made for letting illegal immigrants stay in the United States.

  80. Jack on January 21, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    There’s also the problem of Hispanic enclaves. Someone mentioned (above) something about folks coming here to get away from hell. While that may be true for some, the fact is there are many who don’t find the haven their looking for. Gang activity, crime, illiteracy, and so forth, are rampant in such areas. Throwing the borders wide open will only exacerbate the problem. It’s incredibly naive to think we can shoulder the burden of improving conditions in the enclaves without measuring the flow across the border.

  81. Lulubelle on January 21, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    California Condor: You’ve got to be kidding! Of course I’d rather have my grass cut for $10 than $50. But the flip side of that is my taxes go up exponentially to fund the numerous social programs for those who are not even here legally– like medical, education, public services, welfare benefits, and the list is endless. How many hospitals are closing because they cannot cover the cost of those who have no medical insurance and no way of paying? And at least in the border states (CA, AZ, NM, TX) the large majority of those are illegal immigrants south of the border (mostly Mexico but other latin American countries). Your comment is way too simplistic.

  82. Melinda on January 21, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    My Anglo neighbors run their own masonry business. They are angry with illegal immigrants. My neighbors’ employees are legal, so they pay payroll taxes and a living wage. Their competitors’ Hispanic employees are illegal, so they don’t pay payroll taxes, and pay them lots less because three or four families share one apartment. Because my neighbors have to charge more to cover their costs, they lose business to their illegal immigrant competitors. They’ve never said the illegal immigrants do shoddy work, and I’m sure they would if they thought so. But those hardworking illegal immigrants doing good-quality work are still hurting a small business that is doing it legally.

    I’ve had an Anglo family member desperately searching for work who was told “sorry, we’re not hiring,” only to have the same guy who said they weren’t hiring turn to the Hispanic who just walked up and told him to take the guys with him around back and get them started. When he asked the guy what was up, the guy told him “Hispanics work for peanuts and we don’t have to pay their taxes.”

    In both these situations, the Anglos were working low-paying, unskilled manual labor that illegal immigrants can do because they (the Anglos) have learning disabilities and so getting more education and entering the high-tech service sector with better pay is just not an option for them. The learning disabled are competing with illegal immigrants for jobs, and they’re losing.

    It’s just anecdotal, of course. But it made me think. A learning disabled American can’t get an unskilled labor job because the illegal immigrants take them. Do we want to decrease the jobs available to Americans who don’t have much education? They’re the ones most vulnerable to ending up on welfare anyway. They’ll work as hard as they can, but illegal immigrants have an unfair advantage because they’re cheaper, and frankly, they have better networks. Employers just hire someone’s brother. A learning disabled American has to deal with the barrier of filling out a job application.

    I’m never going to directly compete with an illegal immigrant for a job, but people I care about do just that.

    I’m all for penalizing the employers who hire illegal immigrants. Some illegals do have good papers that could fool anyone, but some employers consciously hire illegal immigrants because they don’t have to pay employer taxes like FICA and SS. They can also mistreat their employees and get away with it because they threaten to turn in the illegal immigrant unless they just take it. Those employers ought to do jail time.

  83. Mike L. (fka Horebite) on January 21, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    #63: Clearly we would need to improve our system or identification before we could crack down on employers.

    To answer the original question about where compassion fits into the question, I think we first need to answer the question of where compassion fits into government. Let me try to answer that (with the understanding that my answer is just the best I can do, but I certainly don\’t claim my ideas are God\’s gift to this earth):

    While compassion should be foremost on the minds of individuals when discussing any matter, when it comes to government policy, they also have an obligation to be fair. As an individual, I can afford to not be fair at times. If someone steals $100 from me, for example, and then later comes to me and is genuinely sorry and asks forgiveness and tells me he\’s unable to pay me back. I can forgive that person and forgive the debt also. That\’s not fair to me, but it is compassionate, and that\’s fine.

    But a government, I believe, needs to favor fairness. One primary responsibility of government is to make sure that everyone operates an equal footing. Ideally, government could be both fair and compassionate. But when the two conflict, it should favor fairness. But I understand that some might disagree with me on this and maybe even have reasonable arguments for why government should favor compassion. But right now I see fairness as more important.

    So how does this relate to illegal immigration?

    The most compassionate solution would be to allow all illegal immigrants to be citizens immediately. This would not be fair to those trying to get into the country legally. Neither is deporting everyone fair (not to mention not feasible). Would you think it was fair if the government sent you a ticket for all the times you\’ve ever driven above the speed limit? (I know I said before the speeding analogy isn\’t valid, but in this case I\’m not referring to the degree of the crime, just to the fact that delayed enforcement isn\’t fair).

    So essentially we are looking for the solution that is fair, while being the most compassionate as possible. I\’m not sure what that solution is, but my attempt is in #10.

    As far as I can tell, we don\’t have a direct quote of what the church said on the subject. But if they said \”let\’s reintroduce compassion to the discussion.\”, I agree that we need to discuss this with compassion, trying to understand the circumstances that illegal immigrants were/are in. But in the end, the policy that we introduce needs to be fair, even if it means sacrificing some compassion if necessary.

    Some might so that an open-border policy is both fair and compassionate. I don\’t disagree, but from what I understand it would also ruin our economy and national security. I didn\’t say fairness and compassion are the only things to consider.

  84. Mike L. (fka Horebite) on January 21, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Sorry for the all the slashes. I misspelled my email, which sent me to the page to verify since it thought I was a first-time poster. And apparently that page inserts the \s all over the place.

  85. Bob on January 21, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    #76: Not a good answer for this”humane “post. Over a million man, women, and children died in Vietnam of ”Attrition “.We thought if we killed enough of them, the war would stop.

  86. Mark B. on January 21, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Again, I’m waiting for a neutral principle on which we can base an intelligent immigration law. All the arguments about increased costs, depressed wages, economic dislocation apply as much to “legal” immigrants as to the “illegal” ones. And they apply to previous waves of immigrants, including your ancestors, as they do to the immigrants who are coming today.

    The fact is that migration is a process that responds to economic incentives as much as water responds to gravity. Actually, if the U.S. economy goes into the tank, you anti-immigration folks may get your damnable “attrition” without a single ICE raid.

    (But, I have to hand it to you. Not only does “attrition” have a wonderful history from the Vietnam War–I suspect that most of you have no memory of the nightly news reports on how many of the enemy had been killed the previous day–but it also resonates from the glorious days of Verdun as well–10 months of slaughter which the Germans imagined would wear down the French. That’s a great history to link yourselves to.)

  87. Bob on January 22, 2008 at 12:08 am

    We use to have an answer to most of the above problems..it was called the Unions. They did a very good job keeping the doors closed to the unwanted, keeping wages up, arranging for pensions, medical coverage, 8hr. days, SS. etc. Maybe we need to bring them back?

  88. Mark D. on January 22, 2008 at 2:29 am

    Mark B.,

    You conveniently neglect the national security and criminal background check arguments for screening the people that are allowed to come to this country. That is a major difference between legal and illegal immigration.

    In addition, your argument against enforcement by attrition is silly. It is certainly more humane than deporting people on the spot. And the only complaint you can come up with is the word has an unpleasant connotation. So does the “war on poverty”.

    Finally, when most of our ancestors arrived, government at all levels did not consume forty percent of the GNP, more like ten percent. Nor were large numbers of immigrants actively hostile to American language, culture, sovereignty, and government. How many terror cells do you suppose immigrated to America in the nineteenth century? How many languages did they teach in the schools? Was there government supported hostility to teaching and learning English? Honor killings for family members that behaved too American? Foreign governments that tried to maintain extra-territorial jurisdiction here? Minority separatist groups in the universities?

    Would it be healthy in the long run for the United States to divide on linguistic and cultural lines, the way Canada has? To develop a society where there are neighborhoods where Muslims maintain that only other Muslims can safely go, like England? Where teachers are arrested for the name of a teddy bear?

    Besides all the economic arguments, reason number one why we do not have an open borders policy has nothing to do with race, it has to do with culture. If we had an open borders policy we would run the long term risk of ending Western civilization. Now maybe some people think that a world wide renewal of radical Muslim culture ca. 600 AD is all fine and dandy – honor killings, genital mutilation, sharia law and all that, but some people actually like the Western tradition of limited government, reason and rationality, and think that we should lift a finger every once in a while to preserve it, even if it means that only one million people can immigrate (and eventually assimilate) every year instead of ten times that number.

    Personally, I think a world where the United States still exists in recognizable form a century or two down the road would be more humane than that of a world wide Caliphate – or some other nightmarish regime.

  89. Joel on January 22, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Just a few thoughts (this ultimately ended up being a long comment, sorry)

    #88 Culture is part of race when people start to think it is synonymous with skin color. Immigrants historically didn’t learn English any faster than present-day migrants. Think about the Deseret alphabet designed to created a common way of communicating and teaching English to Mormon immigrants. Also, there were German, Danish, and other nationality based towns and enclaves all over Utah into the 20th Century. Also, remember that Mormon’s were illegal immigrants when they entered Mexican territory in 1847. The pilgrims also illegally landed at Plymouth Rock. Both cases represent people that willfully broke the laws of nations that they were entering.

    #77 I think the Civil Rights Movements provides a wonderful example of disobedience to law when that law is fundamentally unjust. At some level, I believe, illegal immigration is just another form of Civil Disobedience. Mormons also practiced such disobedience during the raid on Polygamy in the 1890s

    To many others: I believe that much of the thinking about illegal immigration has moved away from ideological racism. The problem is that many of the policies are based on structural racism. The idea of illegal immigration has always created an “us” versus “them” mentality that fundamentally assumes that “we” are better than “they” are. Because “we” are better, we have the right to control “them.”

    Many of us literally enjoy the “fruits” of illegal immigration. We also enjoy the “meat” of immigration. We stay in hotels that are clean because of immigrants. We cannot enjoy these “fruits” while at the same time complaining about the source. If we want to stop illegal immigration, we have to be willing to pay higher prices for many everyday things. Also, we would need to severely chastise profiteering employers.

    Finally, #53 along with many others: I think that the welfare and crime angles are the strongest argument against open borders. Nevertheless, I would see the problem is more as a result of poverty than of immigration. The problems associated with immigrant communities occur in almost all lower-class, urban neighborhoods. Although some responsibility rests on residents of these communities for the conditions therein, they often have developed because people did not feel welcome or financially sound enough to move into better communities. Also, many people are notoriously impatient with immigrants that are trying to learn English. Shifting the focus from problems of welfare and poverty onto immigrant communities allows Americans to ignore the very real problem of class disparity that exists in our country. And no, poverty isn’t always a manifestation of laziness. Remember that Christ worked primarily with the poor and downtrodden and that the poor Nephites were often the most righteous.

    I know I am not going to change anyone’s mind regarding immigration policy, but I am very worried when people say that race doesn’t exist in the world today. It would not exist if everyone saw immigrants and everyone else as children of God with a Divine heritage and potential. C.S. Lewis called this responsibility the “Weight of Glory.” Whatever we do about immigration, we must always remember that God loves these immigrants at least as much as as he loves us. I think that this is the reasons why the church would call for a humane approach to immigration policy. These people from Mexico, Latin America, Poland, China, or anywhere else are our brothers in Christ. They have equal access to Christ’s atonement; the same as us.

    On a very personal note, I wish that many of the LDS immigrants would stay in their home countries. Not because I don’t believe they have every right to come here, but because immigration often guts Latin American wards and stakes of their ablest and brightest members. Also, these members who might have been doctors, nurses, and accountants back home often end up as gardeners here, and they often fall inactive in the church because members will not accept them or they can’t find Spanish units. I can understand why they come, and I try to fell great compassion for them while understanding the eonomic forces that pull them here.

  90. Mark D. on January 22, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    #89: The Mormons pioneers were lucky. Mexico would be perfectly justified in denying health, education, and welfare benefits to a large group of foreigners who settled in their territory without approval. The problem of course was that the nearest Mexican outpost was probably a thousand miles away.

  91. Mark B. on January 22, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Mark D.

    If we were serious about checking immigrants for a history of criminal or terrorist behavior, I should think that we would focus our efforts on doing that, rather than spending so much energy on attempting to catch hotel maids and busboys and farmhands. I have no difficulty with that sort of screening, although it is good to remember that one of the oldest such screens in the immigration law (which is still used) was set up to stop people who intended to practice polygamy in the United States.

    I suppose that attrition of immigrants is not as ugly as attrition of the kind the Germans tried at Verdun or the Americans tried in Vietnam. Not many of the anti-immigrant fringe advocate shooting them, thank goodness. But the advocates of “attrition” seem to think that if Papa loses his job the family will all head to the airport, but six tickets to Mexico, D.F., and all our troubles will be over. It’s more likely that when Papa loses his job he’ll try to find another one, which will have lower pay and worse working conditions than his current job, and as things get tighter the family will move in with Tia, and then what? It’ll be The Grapes of Wrath, with tacos.

    Joel responded in part to your parade of horribles about immigrants–honor killings, foreign language ghettos, extra-territorial jurisdiction. Those are either inconsequential (how many honor killings have their been in the U.S.?), grossly exaggerated (all the data show faster language assimilation by current immigrants than in the past) or nonsense (what? Mexico ruling parts of Pima County?). But, any risks regarding those issues would disappear if we were to declare tomorrow that there are no illegal immigrants, and focus our efforts on assisting new arrivals in assimilating rather than trying to kick them out.

    Finally, other than the criminal/terrorist screening, you haven’t even hinted at a neutral principle basis for restricting immigration.

  92. Mark D. on January 22, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    #89: Re: prices. That is a straw man. Have you met an opponent of illegal immigration who wasn’t willing to pay higher prices?

    Re: structural racism. That is silly. The same laws apply to Anglo-Saxon immigrants as do to anyone else. Are there other more enlightened countries out there that do not have similar policies?

    Also, the idea that native North Americans ca. 1620 were in any real sense a nation with immigation laws is ridiculous.

  93. Joel on January 22, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    #92

    Yes, most everyone complains about rising prices–that is why Walmart does so well.

    Structural racism isn’t about laws being applied to everyone, it is about inequalities built into the laws. Laws are not neutral entities. Some good examples of past laws with built in racism: The grandfather clause–it didn’t talk specifically about African Americans but it was geared toward African Americans whose grandfathers couldn’t vote. Another good example was the Executive Order 9066 which didn’t refer to Japanese Americans in particular, but everyone knew who was being targeted. Until 1954 there was no quota for Mexican immigration. The Walters-McCarran Act allowed Japanese immigrants for the first time to become citizens of the U.S., but at the same time it set equal quotas for immigration based on nationality. Thus every country in Europe had a particular quota that was equal to Mexico’s quota despite the fact that the demand from Mexico to immigrate had historically been much higher. Thus, the supposed equity of this new law actually hurt Mexican immigrants much more than any other group in the world. Also, one quota was set for all of Asia–meaning that Asians were not equal to Europeans. Another great example can be found in the Department of Housing and Urban Development loans after WWII. These HUD loans were only offered to segregated neighborhoods–thus creating a double standard. Today, officials spend much more time prosecuting Mexican illegal immigrants than they spend going after Chinese or Polish immigrants. This is because there is no brder for them to guard–thus, the law is applied unequally. I can offer a ton more examples–both historical and present if you would like. This is what I mean by structural racism.

    Finally, the Pilgrims actually illegally entered an area that was outside the charter granted them by the English government. Thus, they were technically disobeying the law.

  94. Bob on January 22, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    #90:The Mormons pioneers were lucky. Mexico would be perfectly justified in denying health, education, and welfare benefits…”.
    No. it was no longer Mexico. Besides. those things would come from the Catholic Church, or the “Patron System”( see Godfather)
    ” The problem of course was that the nearest Mexican outpost was probably a thousand miles away.:
    It didn’t stop General Santa Ana from coming to the Alamo.

  95. Mark D. on January 22, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    #92: Complaints about high prices do not amount to an implicit endorsement of illegal behavior. People who want cheaper labor should ask their representatives to increase the number of legal immigrants allowed each year. However, they may find that the increasing the number of immigrants causes their total expenditures to go up due to higher taxes and medical costs. A more effective way of lowering costs would be to repeal our outlandish agricultural subsidies, tariffs, and other corporate welfare.

    I deny that there is any law that can legitimately be opposed on the grounds of ‘structural racism’ that does not have a more apparent and obvious problem. The authors of Davis-Bacon may well have intended to discriminate against minorities, but that is not the real problem with the law – the real problem is that it artificially discriminates against any worker who normally commands less than the ‘prevailing wage’ for any reason whatsoever.

    I am not sure the Pilgrims landing outside their original charter area constitutes a violation of English law. Perhaps a violation of contract. Common law generally has it that whoever cultivates (or at least fences off) a property first owns it. The sovereign would certainly collect taxes in either case.

    #94: Re health, education and welfare benefits for Mormon pioneers. That was a joke.

    When the pioneers first settled the Salt Lake Valley, the Mexican-American war (disgrace that it was) had just concluded, but western territory south of the forty second parallel was still technically part of Mexico. Utah territory did not become part of the United States until the treaty of Guadalope-Hidalgo was concluded on February 2, 1848.

    Either way, the nearest Mexican outpost was probably either Sonoma or Tuscon, months away by wagon. Realistically, the idea of sovereignty over an area that has no citizens and no civil or military presence is pretty dubious to begin with. British and American trappers were contesting the area in the 1820s and the Mexicans don’t seem to have so much as filed a complaint.

  96. Bob on January 22, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    #95: I agree..unrealistic. But that never stopped any of them from trying. Spain kept trying, France keep trying, the British sent fleets. USA sent an army to Utah, we could go on and on with the foolishness to included Iraq.

  97. Mark D. on January 23, 2008 at 3:07 am

    Here is a nice article on some of the downsides of rapid, large scale immigration, focusing on the reaction of urban blacks to the high level of Hispanic immigration over the past couple of decades:

    Steven Malanga, The Rainbow Coalition Evaporates, City Journal, Winter 2008
    http://city-journal.org/2008/18_1_blacks_and_immigration.html

  98. Joel on January 23, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Seems like the article demonstrates the classic tactic of pitting one race against the other. Nobody ever wins.

  99. Bob on January 23, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    #97/98: I read a sad, but convincing study that a downside of the 1960s Black Movement, was the idea that Blacks would no longer be the “White man’s servants”. This left a vacuum filled be other races, and many Blacks on the outside of the unskilled job market.

  100. maren on January 23, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Someone said that the same laws applied to Anglo-immigrants as to all other immigrants.
    I wish that people who know nothing about immigration would stop acting like they do.
    There are quotas and wait lists for certain countries. For example, if you come here legally from the Philippines, pay all the fees, do everything the right way, and then you decide, wouldn’t it be nice to have my sister come live with me? So you file the papers, pay the fees, and wait . . . 25 years! Most of these countries are Latin America or Asian. You don’t have nearly as difficult of a time to immigrate legally if you are from England as you do if you are from The Philippines. Also, certain countries can participate in the “Green Card Lottery”. This is to boost diversity in America. Therefore, people who come from countries where lots of people want to immigrate (Latin America and Asian) cannot participate.
    My husband is here legally, and we have paid all the fees, crossed all our T’s, etc. However, unlike others who say “Well we did it, so should they!” Our attitude is “Thank God somehow we lucked out and were able to do this, however the laws are awful, they do not protect anyone, and they should be changed.”
    Securing the border will not keep out terrorists. The fact is, if you have money, you can come to America, one way or another. If you do not have money, you can try and come up with the money to come here legally, only to wait years and years, or you can pay someone under the table and come here right away.
    Taxes will go up for a million reasons. Taking the illegal immigrants away will not suddenly fix our economic woes. In fact, it will actually make it worse.
    In short, I must say I agree “When did we stop being Christian?”

  101. Joel on January 23, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    #100 Amen!

  102. Bob on January 23, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    #100 It’s been said: ” To move to common ground, each side has to move to higher ground”. I want a country of laws, but fair laws. I want a country of with immigrants, but not second class citizens. Not everyone in the world wants to break into America. Most want to stay in their own homes, many return to their countries. “Taking the illegal immigrants away will not suddenly fix our economic woes. In fact, it will actually make it worse.” we have to learn this may be true.

  103. Mark D. on January 23, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    #100: There are not any quotas and wait lists for “certain” countries. Current immigration law treats all countries equally. The problem is two fold – some countries have a larger number of applicants, and large countries are treated the same as small countries. Isn’t diversity wonderful!

  104. Matt Evans on January 23, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    “large countries are treated the same as small countries”

    Are you sure? That doesn’t make any sense at all. Suriname has as many slots as Mexico or Brazil?

  105. Jack on January 23, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Boy, we can’t win for losin’. Here we are the most diverse country on the planet–and we’re racist and unchristian because we’re trying to keep immigration fair and legal.

  106. Mark B. on January 23, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Mark D is not quite right on the issue of quotas. There are worldwide quotas for all types of immigrants, other than immediate relatives. The Immigration and Nationality Act defines “immediate relatives” as spouses of U.S. citizens, children (under 21) of U.S. citizens, and parents of U.S. citizens, but only if the child is over 21.

    The worldwide quota for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (meaning over 21) results in a waiting period of six years between initial filing and availability of an immigrant visa. For spouses of lawful permanent residents, the waiting period (again, driven by the worldwide quota) is about five years.

    In addition to the worldwide quota, any one country is limited to 7% of the worldwide total. Thus, as Matt wonders, the numbers of visas available to Suriname is the same as Mexico or Brazil. These country limits currently affect only four source countries: Mexico (surprise!), the Philippines (another surprise), India and mainland China.

    The per country limits make for even more ridiculous waits in certain types of cases. For brothers and sisters of U.S citizens in the Philippines, for example, the wait from initial filing to visa availability is 22 years. Add the visa processing time, and you could get to the 25 years Maren mentioned.

    The quotas also apply to employment-based immigrants. A wonderful irony of the system is that most employment-based immigration requires an offer of employment. For the skilled worker or college graduate without a college degree, the waiting period from initial filing to visa availabilty is now about five and one-half years. Is it any wonder that the whole system seems ridiculous? How many employers do you know make offers of employment to people who won’t be able to start working for seven years?

    If you really want a closer look at the wonderful world of waiting to immigrate, see the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin.

  107. Brad Kramer on January 23, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Jack, I think you mean fair and balanced.

    The 2 most amusing parts of this discussion are
    a) the assertion that all the uproar over immigration — the brushfire, grassroots campaign fueled by AM radio that killed the Im-reform bill, the minute-men movement, the inability of any GOP candidate to assume an even marginally moderate position without party-base backlash — all this is really just motivated by indignation on behalf of the would-be immigrants who lost their place in line when somebody jumped the river; and
    b) that this would be just as hot and heavy an issue, just as galvanizing for the republican base, if the problem were 20,000,000 white, middle-class, illegal immigrants from Canada who came here for service-sector or tech industry jobs and our vastly superior health-care system (i.e. that race/ethnocentrism is not a significant factor in all the outcry).

  108. Mark B. on January 23, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Ah, Jack, I feel your pain. The only problem is, it’s not fair. And the law doesn’t even begin to make it fair (except for the diversity visa lottery, which constitutes an inconsequential portion of the annual number of immigrants).

    Just as birth in the U.S. isn’t allocated fairly, being born in a situation where one might have a chance of emigrating to the U.S. is also not allocated fairly. It requires connections, usually family connections, or money to get here as a student and then work the employment-based immigration system.

    And we sure aren’t trying to make immigration legal. If that were our concern, the immigration laws would not set arbitrary limits on immigration, but would provide opportunities to immigrate that were correlated to economic principles. It’s as if we have built a Hoover Dam in a river channel that’s only 300 feet deep. Somehow that last 400 feet of dam don’t seem to be doing a dam bit of good–the water just flows around it.

  109. Bob on January 23, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    #105: Jack, I think you go too far. I think we are maybe we are “the most diverse country on the planet”. I think we are trying, and maybe even winning, compared to others. But we could do better.
    I had an Irish co-worker, whose only restitution was he buy a round trip ticket to America. He has never left, except for family visits. He finally got a ‘Green Card”. (Another story). This aloud him to go to the locale Irish bar, buy the back half of some guy’s ’round trip ticket’ (cheap), use it, then buy a one way ticket in Ireland, back to the states.( He could do this because he now had a “Green Card”. He says this is very common, and not just for the Irish.

  110. Jack on January 24, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Brad,

    Re: b)

    I think we have a bigger problem with socio/economic bias than with racial bias (and concern with economic status isn’t necessarily a bad thing) though the two seem to be joined at the hip. If we had millions of “white, [poor], illegal immigrants” flooding across the border from Canada then we’d probably be thinking about building a wall there too.

    Mark B.,

    Oh, I think we’re trying. Straining at a [camel] vs. swallowing a [gnat] isn’t a sign of unfairness so much as it is the natural ostensible reaction to stress. What else can you expect when hundreds of thousands pour in from the south while only the tiniest fraction trickle in from the north?

  111. Jack on January 24, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Bob, I agree that we can do better, but I’d like to see any other country out there that has half our problem do half so well.

  112. Mark D. on January 24, 2008 at 1:44 am

    #104. Yes, I am sure. It is not a reserved quota, but rather a per country limit. That is in addition to worldwide, per category limits.

    #106: I don’t think you contradicted anything I said. The law treats each country equally. That is a different objective than treating each applicant equally, hence the longer wait in countries with lots of applicants.

    And the Democrats most definitely are trying to make immigration (including illegal immigration) about as easy as possible. President Bush, Senator McCain were too. Obviously many people disagree.

  113. Mike L. on January 24, 2008 at 8:05 am

    I haven’t been following this thread for a few days, but I’d just like to point out that from every account I’ve read, it appears that the church is saying that we should remember that these people are human beings when we discuss this issue. In other words, we shouldn’t be talking about them as if they are animals or in any degrading way. I have always whole-heartedly agreed with that.

    But they are not saying that the policy that the government enacts should be more compassionate than what is being proposed (whatever that is–I don’t follow Utah politics). In fact, one account said that they reiterated their nuetrality on the matter.

    So I think some are trying to spin the Church’s words (which we don’t even have an exact account) to fit their pro-illegal immigrant positions.

  114. Mark B. on January 24, 2008 at 10:33 am

    It appears that Peggy Fletcher Stack has been reading this blog again.

    And, Mark D., I suppose you’re technically right–the law does not impose special quotas on specific countries. The higher number of applicants from certain countries does result in longer waiting lists for those countries. It’s sort of like saying that a law decreeing that nobody can be over six feet tall is not targeted at anybody in particular–but tell that to the guy who has five inches removed to come into compliance with it.

  115. Mark D. on January 24, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    If it is any comfort, I don’t think per country limits are such a great idea. But I do not think there should be preference for family members other than spouses, minor children, and elderly parents either.

  116. maren on January 24, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    #15
    ” But I do not think there should be preference for family members other than spouses, minor children, and elderly parents either.”
    Seriously, why the he** not?!
    My husband has worked his butt off to come here legally, and he has done everything the right way. He hopes and dreams that some day (22 to 25 years from now thanks to current law) to have his sister who has been paralyzed from birth come live in America, so that we can take care of her with our own money, not tax payer dollars, just so no one gets confused. We would not apply for welfare for her. We have the means to take care of her ourselves. What is wrong with that? Why should you deny a family the opportunity to help one another? So much for the idea of “family” being most important in the LDS church. Only if you happened to be lucky enough to be born in the US, right?