A High Priest I know is in crisis. He is an immigrant who, like many other Church members, came to the US without a visa, according to what I understand of the situation. After arriving here he joined the Church, and eventually fell in love and married a U.S. Citizen, a wonderful, faithful Church member. This situation would normally put him on track for a green card and U.S. citizenship.
But this brother is facing deportation, and his ward and stake are praying for a miracle that will keep him here in the United States.
The indiscretion that is giving this High Priest trouble is one that is relatively minor and has already been resolved. Years before joining the Church this brother was convicted of drug possession. He served his time for this crime and repented of it before joining the Church. But under immigration laws, the fact that he has paid for his crime isn’t enough; a conviction of any kind at all puts an immigrant at risk for deportation.
From the perspective of the Church, he has repented, and paid his debt to society as required. So in his ward and stake, he is treated as a member in good standing.
This situation makes me wonder about how our country handles immigration issues. Are our laws truly fair and just? I’m not talking about obedience to current laws here. Its not an issue of “honoring, obeying and sustaining the law.” I have no dispute with the idea that laws should be followed. The question is whether or not the current laws should be changed. I just don’t see how the current laws are fair or just! I don’t see how they are being just to my friend. He paid for his crime.
This issue has been discussed before, both here on Times & Seasons, and elsewhere in the Blogosphere. But I can’t find anywhere that my direct questions have been examined without conflating them with the “law and order” issue. For this post, let’s NOT discuss whether or not the current immigrants should be deported because they have done something illegal. Instead, let’s talk about whether or not the immigration laws are what we want them to be.
I know many Mormons want tougher immigration laws. What I don’t understand is the logic for wanting tougher laws, given the principles the gospel teaches. When I look at the gospel, I don’t see any way to justify restricting immigration laws much at all.
Perhaps its just me and my way of thinking. Perhaps I just didn’t know the gospel well enough. If so, please someone set me straight. Show me some gospel logic that justifies restricting immigration.
Let my try to put it a few different ways:
- Why can we restrict others from the benefits we enjoy as U.S. Citizens simply because of the accident of where they were born?
- Under what gospel principle do we get to draw borders and play “keep away” with the resources and blessings that the Lord has seen fit to give?
- How is treating people differently based on where they were born any more moral than treating them differently based on the color of their skin? Aren’t both beyond their control?
Try as I have, I can’t come up with any gospel logic to justify immigration laws beyond keeping out terrorists or violent criminals (most major government functions do have some minimal logic — if nothing else because those affected by the law have a voice in the creation of the law. Immigrants do not have a voice in immigration laws.)
I’m not excluding the possibility that there is some good logic or gospel principle on which I can base an understading of the justice or morality of immigration laws. So, I’m very open to what anyone might say to help me understand the logic.
But short of an understanding, I have to suspect that these laws are, in fact, immoral. Shouldn’t I, and anyone that believes in the gospel, be seeking looser, more rational immigration laws, ones that allow outsiders to participate in the blessing of living in a first-world economy under a free democratic government? [I shouldn't be too U.S.-centric here, these same issues are faced in many "first-world" countries in the West.]
Regardless of the answers to my questions here, I will continue to pray for this High Priest and his wife. As I understand it, his only hope lies in convincing a judge to vacate the conviction. Friends and fellow Church members have provided more than 100 letters in his support — letters which have been delivered to the judge in his case in the hope that this will sway the judge towards vacating the decision.
I pray that this will work.
Note: Please, stick to the subject as I’ve outlined. I’m reserving the right to delete comments that are off topic — especially those that harp on how illegal immigrants are disobeying the law.
Update (18 Nov at 12:22 am US Eastern time): So far I’ve had to remove 14 comments that were off topic or that replied to other off-topic comments. I regret that I had to take this action, and that it may have disturbed the flow of the comments (and the references, which are no longer correct).
I thought I made the subject clear. The discussion is what immigration laws should be and whether or not they are moral, NOT whether illegal immigrants are violating the law (they are by definition doing so, saying it over and over again helps no one, IMO). If you want to discuss the violations of the law, there are several older posts here and elsewhere on the bloggernacle where that is on topic, either go to one of those posts, or start your own on your own blog!