The Gospel and Immigration

November 17, 2008 | 108 comments
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US Government JPATS (Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System) plane.

US Government JPATS (Justice Prisoner and Alien Transporation System) plane, used for mass deportation. Image by Cubbie_n_Vegas via Flickr

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!

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108 Responses to The Gospel and Immigration

  1. Anon on November 17, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I’m curious as to why he is a high priest if he is obviously an illegal alien? The higher ups in the stake had to know his status yet they still made him a high priest…I don’t get it.

  2. Marc Bohn on November 17, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Anon – Being an undocumented immigrant is not a bar to becoming a high priest (nor is it a bar to being baptized or serving a mission).

  3. Bill on November 17, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    #1, #2 — The church is fairly liberal with its idea of ‘honoring, obeying, and sustaining the law’.

  4. aloysiusmiller on November 17, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    The church takes a benign view of this aspect of honoring, obeying, and sustaining the law. But it is a two edged sword. If we can’t obey this form of authority (it isn’t tyrannical) then we just undermine respect for God’s authority.

  5. Ginger on November 17, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I didn’t realize most Mormons want stricter immigration laws. My husband and I wish the laws made it easier for people to come here and work and live. Then we would have less illegals and more legals contributing to taxes, etc… I grew up in Los Angeles, and lived there until about 4 years ago. My life has definitely been blessed by contact with many immigrants from all over the world. For the most part, I believe they are honest and hard working.

    In my current ward, there is a brother who has political asylum and is working two jobs to try and bring his family here, who have also fled his home country and are now in South Africa. He has been working so hard, and his court dates keep getting put off. It is extremely frustrating for the ward, and I can only imagine the pain for him, not seeing his wife or children in years.

    My beef in the whole immigration debate is the fact that so many illegals get free services in California. Perhaps less would come here if their children weren’t allowed free healthcare and education, but of course this is a bit of a double edged sword, because if they are here, I don’t want them to remain uneducated either, or be dying in the streets.

    I definitely think we should be striving to make legal entry to our nation easier for all those who would like their lives to be here.

    We will keep your ward brother in our prayers too.

  6. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    I can imagine justifying laws that prevented recent immigrants from taking advantage of certain benefits (in-state college tuition, etc.), but, Kent, I’m with you: I’ve lived virtually all of my life in border states, and my experience with people of questionable status is this: anyone willing to work that hard for that little should be welcomed with open arms.

  7. Mark B. on November 17, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Kent points out just one of the many evils in our current immigration laws. In the name of getting tough on foreign drug users (and, who, by the way, is out arguing for admitting more drug users into the U.S.), Congress has amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to make any person convicted of any drug-related offense (possession or sale) inadmissable, with only one minor exception: for a single conviction for simple possession of less that 30 ounces of marijuana. There are no exceptions for any other drug offense, no matter that it was a one-time offense, no matter that it was 30 years ago before a religious conversion. Hooray for our government. It’s really keeping us pure and clean, isn’t it.

    To your broader question: Most of the immigration laws cannot be justified by any neutral principle. They began on the basis of “you don’t look/talk like us or anybody else that’s here, so you can’t come in”–that’s the basis for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882–the first major immigration act passed by Congress. They’ve now moved away from outright racism, and on to the higher moral ground of musical chairs: “we got here first, and you’re out.”

    It’s shameful.

  8. Tim on November 17, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Immigration laws will remain idiotic as long as we continue to treat immigrants as scapegoats.
    Until we take responsibility for our own actions, and realize that the problems our country faces are caused by us, and not them, we’ll continue to have silly laws.
    History repeats itself. The Irish were also treated very poorly, as were (and are) many other immigrant groups.

  9. Visorstuff on November 17, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    I do think that the laws need to be loosened. I can’t understand how anyone can read and agree with the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and understand Church doctrine and want to keep people – especially Hispanics – out of the U.S. It seems that someone is trying to keep these groups from blossoming in the U.S. to hold off prophecy.

    I can agree that laws need to be obeyed. Like you I’m not discussing whether or not they need to obey the laws, but that the laws should be changed. And according to law, those who are here illegally should be deported.

    BUT anytime it is illegal just for a person to be alive in a location, it seems a bit strange to me. “Hi, you are Mexican, so you your existence in Arizona is illegal.” Or, “Hi your Mormon and you can’t live in Missouri.” It doesn’t make sense.

    And these groups will not only blossom, but must recieve their “inheritance.”

    Add to this that the Church has lobbied to have a missionary’s clergy card to qualify the person to stay in the US legally (allowing for them to be called on missions and the church not punished for calling them, or allowing illegals to hold church callings. Especially those who are on their way to citizenship, like your example above). They apparently know something most members don’t look at.

    Even from a non-religious standpoint the current laws should be changed. From at least the 1830s, we look at how the US treated the Irish, the Bohemians, the Danish, the Chinese, the Germans, the Japanese, the Cambodians and even British Mormons (gasp!) since the beginnings of Immigration laws. Each decade or two the race targeted changes, but our treatment of these Aliens are the same. So much for “all men are created equal.” And then we feel bad years later and say things like, our treatment of the Chinese during the 1860s was deplorable – espeically those coming through SF or Ellis. Or, putting naturalized Japanese immigrants in prison camps during WWII was probably a bit overboard. At least it makes for good PBS documentaries – there are plenty of them on the U.S.’s treament of each of these groups.

    Yes, there is a higher level of crime-breakers among illegal aliens. Some of it is because they have to break the law to get here due to the cost of getting a Visa or permit and are then met with so many obstacles once they get here. Or those who are fleeing the law fro other crimes committed in their country. But yes, we have law-breaking Americans who flee to other countries. If the barriers to get here were eased, and extradition laws reformed and taxed moneys sent out of the U.S. taxed more heavily, that would solve much of the problem, IMHO. The issue is those rich guys who want to send money to Swiss or other foreign banks don’t want to be taxed for doing so. We need to fix that. And, if we attract the right people, crime won’t be an issue and the economy will be strengthened.

    Mormons apparently have a hard time distinguishing their politics from their religion. And I understand that. Even though I’m a registered Republican, I am pretty Liberal on this topic. The laws need to be changed.

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

    It is no longer “give me your poor and downtrodden” as the New Colossus says. As Americans we apparently have a New, New Colossus. We only want rich and productive memebers of society. Keep out those who will fulfill prophecy. Keep out those who are different. We natually fear change. I understand this, it just doesn’t match up with Mormonism’s history, prophecy or doctrines.

  10. Jim on November 17, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    After all of the angst, the fact remains that there are ways for this individual to legally remain in this country. There’s a high degree of risk involved and good legal advice is essential but there is the chance that he can, A. get the court with jurisdiction over the original conviction to expunge the record, and B. get an immigration judge to grant an order that deportation would put an unreasonable hardship on his U.S. citizen spouse and children. The problem is that the first part is really tough in the current climate about crime and punishment. But if that can be done, the second part can be easier with a good immigration lawyer.

    But also, I do have a problem that there seems to be an unwritten codicil to the twelfth article of faith. We are to obey, honor, and sustain the law, except for U.S. immigration law. Personally, I would like some clear public message from the First Presidency on how that works and what the implications for church service are for members who choose to work in law enforcement. For example, I’ve heard that because of the immigration thing, members who are police officers or prosecuting attorneys are no longer allowed to serve in Bishoprics or Stake Presidencies. Is that true?

  11. aloysiusmiller on November 17, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Two reasons to keep people out:

    1. We are a welfare state and we can’t afford to invite everyone to the party.
    2. We have a culture (yes dwindling as it is) that we want to preserve. Viz a viz Mexico and parts south it is a culture of respect for the rule of law and a respect for the rights of property. We like people who share that culture and we shouldn’t be so welcoming to those that don’t.

    But fundamentally I agree with liberal legal immigration based on the anticipated contribution of the immigrant and their willingness to assimilate into our culture.

  12. Raymond Takashi Swenson on November 17, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    The immigration laws are schizophrenic because they are passed mainly to please constituent groups within the US that certain classes of immigrants are bineg acted against, but the same Congress will not fund immigration control programs to enforce those laws because other constituent grups–especially employers–don’t want the limits on their labor pool. To unscrupulous employers, the “strict” laws but lack of enforcement gives them the best fo both worlds: a steady supply of labor, which is kept cheap because the workers cannot go to the government to complain about unfair treatment. It is mainly people who are trying to do something else who have the laws enforced against them. The most basic immigration control laws are hardly enforced at all.

    The current quotas were arbitrarily set in the 1960s by Congress based on arbitrary notions of how many people from each country should be allowed to immigrate. The main safety valve is the ability of an immigrant to then bring in his or her family members. The tight quotas mean that a person has to wait for years to be admitted. The incompetent legal path forces people into the illegal path, whih has little real enforcement to discourage anyone from using it.

    The fact is that US birth rates have fallen drastically since the 1960s. If not for immigration, the US economy would have a vast labor shortage. And any American teen with a decent high school education can qualify for jobs that pay better than those labor intensive jobs most immigrants perform. The economic demand for labor has NO input into the formal legal immigration system.

    Do we need ANY controls on immigration? Think of this: If immigration is truly unlimited, then wages for those who ARE immgrants are going to be forced to be low, because it will be easier for companies to look for cheap labor rather than pay existing workers a better wage. Every new immigrant competes against last year’s immigrants for work, lowering the wages of all. ths creates a permanent underclass of people who can barely survive, let alone get job training and education and improve their skills.

    Note this: Mexico prohibits unrestricted immigration across its southern border with Guatemala! Mexicans in the lower class are sensitive to the competition for wages that unrestricted immigration creates.

    The temptation toward crime for such an underclass is strong. It becomes an environment in which crime and violence and prostitution are engendered.

    This harms everyone living in the US. And immigrating to the US to obtain welfare benefits is not in the interest of anyone. Because of the cost of living being lower in other nations, a person can live better on a low wage there than he can in the US. Exporting jobs to other countries–like the maquilladora factories along the Mexico-US border–is more beneficial to the workers than forcing them to move to the US with its higher living costs.

    The immigration numbers should be placed in the hands of a commission that can adjust legal immigration flow to the economic demand of businesses, so that immigrants are not impoverished and there are jobs for most, so they are not essentially forced into criminal ways of earning a living. At the same time, there needs to be real control of immigration, or any system will give an advantage to those who are dishonest.

    Those who oppose any immigration controls are subverting law enforcement, such that felony level criminals are allowed to walk around free because cities like San Francisco are more interested in striking a pose of their liberalty rather than paying attention to the fact that many illegal immigrants are grave dangers to society. Both Congress and such “sanctuary” cities are using the issue to strike poses rather than dealing with immigrants as real people, with both value and liability.

    At least one option should be open to people wanting to immigrate to the US: To enlist in the armed forces. If they serve and earn an honorable discharge, they should be allowed to become permanent residents, and be on the fast track to citizenship. There would be a steady stream of volunteers for the armed forces, and they would receive a wonderful lesson in what it means to be an American. I can see a similar argument for someone who devotes a year to volunteer service, like missionaries.

  13. thesnakeguy on November 17, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    “my house is a house of order” It is perfectly acceptable for a society to make laws to make sure that society operates in an orderly fashion. Having hospitals close down because their costs are too high because of an influx of poor people from an adjacent country is not a house of order. Neither is having lots of stolen cars driven to nearby countries. Neither is having an increase in the # of drunk drivers without auto insurance failing to cover the financial costs their accidents incur. The details of whether immigrants are a net benefit or hurt for society can be debated. But if you believe they have a net negative affect on the country then having an orderly society is a gospel principle that helps justify your view. As for mark B. Just because you like the enforcement of immigration laws doesn’t make you a xenophobe. There are rational arguements for being for strict enforcement. A lot of people who are for limiting the immigration of low skilled people who “don’t look like us or talk like us” are perfectly happy to increase immigration levels for more educated people who “don’t look like us or talk like us.”

    Another gospel principle is fairness. Why should someone who is in africa be denied entry in the US simply because they weren’t born in a country where they can walk across the border in the shadow of night?

    Another related principle is to help people help themselves. I don’t give cash to bums who ask for it, but often I will order an extra hamburger and give it to them. We should be implementing economic policies that help make Mexico a place people aren’t trying to flee. Allowing them to feed at America’s trough doesn’t help them acheive that anymore than allwoing a person on welfare to not do any work. The US has limited resources and rational people can disagree with how those resources should be used. Perhaps giving hardworking Americans, or hard working chinese those economic advantages would be a better choice than giving them to hard working mexicans where a majority of the money gets wired to relatives south of the border.

  14. jjohnsen on November 17, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    “I didn’t realize most Mormons want stricter immigration laws. ”

    I don’t think it’s a Mormon thing, in my experience it’s a Utah Mormon thing.

  15. Mathew on November 17, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    My wife is a legal immigrant who refuses to assimilate into our culture. This is frustrating and has often resulted in me eating admittedly tasty foreign dishes. Still, it grates.

  16. Raymond Takashi Swenson on November 17, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Let me add one thing about my viewpoint: I am an immigrant. When I was born, the Japanese Exclusion Act of 1923 was still law. It barred my Japanese mother and myself, born in Japan of an American military father, from immigrating to the US. As the number of “war brides” increased, demand for liberalizing the system grew, and the law was changed in time for us to come to the US when I was 2 years old. I am well familiar with how racist and arbitrary immigration laws can be.

    The fact is that the gap of 20 million or so between the number of people the US economy has assimilated and the number allowed to legally immigrate demonstrates that the immigration system is hobbling the economy. Immigration should be based on real marlet demand for labor. The country-of-origin quotas that congress created are NOT holy writ. They are of the same wisdom as many other acts of Congress, and the fact that the US has had a historically low unemployment rate despite the high number of illegal immigrants demonstrates the law makes no sense. People claim the earlier “amnesty” didn;t work becau, lo and behold, we have even MORE illegal immigrants. But the problem with the first amnesty was that it was a one time effort to adjust to market demand for labor, rather than a continuing fix of the immigration laws to make annual adjustments. The added millions of immigrants did not sneak across the border in expectation of another amnesty; they came because of real demand for labor. that would have happened wjhether or not there had been an amnesty. The “conservative” opposition to immigration is based on a lack of understanding of basic economics, an ignorance that is the counterpart of the liberal belief that government can keep handguns out of the possession of criminals by restricting law abiding people form owning them.

  17. Visorstuff on November 17, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    #12, I agree with your second and third paragraphs.

  18. thesnakeguy on November 17, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Raymond,

    Thank you for saying the reason people disgree with you is because they don’t understand and not because they have bad motives. In addition to economic arguments there are social arguments that can be made.

  19. Mark N. on November 17, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    We are to obey, honor, and sustain the law, except for U.S. immigration law.

    And don’t forget the declarations of the unconstitutionality of anti-same-sex-marriage laws.

    Honor what you must, overturn the rest. ;-)

  20. Enrique on November 17, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    But short of an understanding, I have to suspect that these [immigration] laws are, in fact, immoral. (Original Post)

    My reaction to the knee-jerk law-and-order “they’re the source of all crime” anti-immigrant types:

    “And here I thought we were a Christian nation.”

    It shuts them up every time. I don’t think they quite understand what I mean by it, and by the time they’ve figured it out (if ever) the topic has changed.

  21. DavidH on November 17, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    As usual, put me on the list of those favoring essentially an open door policy of immigration.

  22. Tony on November 17, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Re. #31- I’d be in favor of that if we could convince cool places like Australia and New Zealand to do the same.

  23. Tony on November 17, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Sorry, I meant “Re. #30″ above…

  24. greenfrog on November 17, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Kent,

    I don’t see much of a difference between the intent of commercial ventures engaged in group boycotts in violation of the Sherman Act and the intent of those enacting strict immigration policies. Both seek to exclude competitors in order to profit at others’ expense.

    While there are responsible arguments for border controls in order to avoid economically swamping border communities, and there are good reasons to draw lines to exclude those with proven propensities to violate laws (unfortunately, like your friend), neither of those factors is a good reason for the restrictive immigration policies in place at present.

  25. maren on November 17, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Do all of you who complain about obeying the laws understand anything at all about immigration laws?
    I think they are horrible, racist, elitist, and should all be changed. My husband’s family was not able to attend our wedding, just because they were poor and could not “prove” that they would return to the Philippines after the wedding was over. The fees are crazy, and there is no way that a poor person from a third world country can afford it. Those that do come legally are few and far between. I knew nothing about immigration until I met my husband. He has done everything right, but it has been a terribly difficult process and I cannot even begin to tell you what we could have done with the money it involves.

  26. Zat on November 17, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    maren,

    Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean you get to break the law.

  27. maren on November 17, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    And we did not break the law. We were blessed and lucky enough to be able to not break the law. You know many of the apostles/prophets have quoted Les Miserables. Jean Valjean also broke the law. Javert followed the law to the letter. The first is heralded as the hero, the second commits suicide.
    Let me put it another way. What would you do to feed your child? Steal a loaf of bread? Cross a border? He who is without sin, cast the first stone.

  28. Anon on November 17, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    #38- well please share, then, so maybe I can know, too.

  29. Jeanie on November 18, 2008 at 12:07 am

    I was raised Mormon but am now part of the United Church of Christ. I’m quite proud that my small congregation (85 members) has done more than just write letters and pray for someone caught in our current immigration morass. Almost 18 months ago, we took a young mother and her baby into sanctuary when she was threatened with deportation. Like the brother in your ward, LIliana is married to a US citizen and has three US born children. Her crime? At the age of 18, she tried to join her parents and siblings who had immigrated to the US legally, (she had waited to finish her senior year in high school in Mexico instead of coming with her family and in the meantime the borders locked up and she couldn’t get a visa). Her family paid a coyote who gave her a fake birth certificate. When confronted at the border, she admitted that it was false and was sent back. Several months later she did make it across the border and joined her family. That was 10 years ago. Now she is married and has kids. They own a home. When the baby was a month old, ICE came at 5:30 am to deport her. The family pleaded for a few days to make arrangements for the kids. They sought legal advice and were told about the sanctuary.movement. With the help of other community members, Liliana has been living on our church property since Aug. 2007. She doesn’t leave the property. Her husband and kids are there frequently in an effort to keep the family united. Her case is slowly making it’s way through the courts and a humanitarian waiver is also being sought. And to top it off…LIliana is not even a member of our church. She is Catholic. We took her in regardless of her religious beliefs. She and her family needed help.
    It is cases like these that illustrate the injustice of our current immigration system that has policies that are so broad that they often rip families apart for no good purpose. Trying to get waivers or work through the court system is painfully slow and does not take the human costs into account.
    It is unfortunate that a church as large as the Mormon church seems little interested in helping immigrant families. They could use their size, wealth, and influence to push for humane immigration reform. We couldn’t get any of the LDS wards in our area to help Liliana’s family. (Financial and food assistance is always an issue. We are not a large church.) Instead the Mormon Church wastes its energy and time promoting issues like Prop 8 that tear families apart, seek to eliminate 18,000 legal marriages and relegate 100,000′s of individuals to 2nd class citizens.
    Doesn’t speak too favorably to following the commandment to “do unto the least of these…”

  30. Kent Larsen on November 18, 2008 at 12:11 am

    aloysiusmiller (11):

    I certainly understand those reasons. Now please tell me how these reasons are either moral or justified under the gospel.

    The problem that I have with these reasons is that they both are simply saying that we who were born here somehow deserve the benefits we get even though we didn’t do anything to deserve these benefits. And conversely, that those who were NOT born here don’t deserve the benefits.

    WHY? How can this possibly be true or moral?

  31. Kent Larsen on November 18, 2008 at 12:20 am

    Raymond (12): I largely agree with your analysis, but I don’t see a moral or gospel connection in your argument.

    My own feelings are largely along your own — we need some controls to balance the economic benefit for the immigrants. Ideally it shouldn’t be a huge advantage to immigrate, and your suggestion to either allow a lot of immigration or to export low-wage jobs elsewhere does that well. I also agree that the laws we have are an insane patchwork fueled by interest groups and, more recently, political posturing that helps no one.

    My hope from this discussion is to move past the political posturing and see some rational discussion of what the laws should be. If we realize that there is no morality in prohibiting immigrants, and that infact it is largely immoral, then perhaps our positions on what laws we should have can be more rational and less emotion-driven.

  32. Kent Larsen on November 18, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Gee, Matthew (15), I have to assume you are being a little sarcastic here (either that, or you are airing a bit of dirty laundry). I’m not sure why assimilating is really that important. Hundreds of thousands of first generation immigrants have likewise refused to assimilate. BUT, the pattern is that their children almost always assimilate (95+% do assimilate in the second generation). It may cause problems in your marriage, but its really not that big a problem for the nation as a whole.

    The example of the German immigrants is perhaps a good example. In 1910 there were, by my count from the list in the Encyclopedia of New York City, 7 German language DAILY newspapers published here. By 1950 there were 2 left, and the last of these closed in 1975. Does anyone complain about German immigrants in the US anymore? They certainly did in 1910, when the Germans made up entire neighborhoods in Manhattan’s lower east side.

    What happened? Their children assimilated.

    Do you think there is a moral duty to assimilate? Does the Church teach that we should? I suspect I could argue both sides on that one. We certainly have an obligation to participate in our community, so assimilation may in fact be the ideal.

    But, if our culture had insisted on perfect assimilation, would we have pizza? Chinese, Korean and Japanese restaurants? words and phrases like canyon, ‘hasta la vista’ and ‘oy vey?’

    In the current climate, we often forget that immigration has an enriching role in our culture. We add the culture of new immigrants to the mix.

    So, in my view, if they don’t assimilate immediately, vive la difference!

  33. Brian W on November 18, 2008 at 12:44 am

    Kent: What should the laws be? For starters, felony #1 gets you deported with no hope of EVER returning to the U.S. I know of far too many victims of crimes committed by illegals. Far too many vehicular homicides are caused by illegals driving drunk. There was another one in AZ within the last few days.

    Having served a mission in Tijuana and now working in the agricultural industry, I see a lot of value in loosening our immigration policy. Law-abiding immigrants who contribute to society should not only be allowed into our country, but should be welcomed with open arms. How many industries would dry up without immigrant labor? Agriculture, construction, landscaping, hotels? I’ve never known another group of people willing to work so hard for so little.

  34. Kent Larsen on November 18, 2008 at 1:05 am

    Jeanie (28):

    Your comment brings up a lot of issues, especially those of civil disobedience — which is a concept I’d like to see discussed a bit — (but I wish you would stick a bit more to the subject. Prop 8 is off topic in this post, and since we’ve discussed it elsewhere so much, I’d rather it wasn’t brought into this discussion also).

    I too would like to see the Church do more in these situations. Instead of going to local congregations, did you consider going to the Church’s humanitarian aid people in Salt Lake? I don’t know that they would help, but I do know that very few wards and branches (at least in my experience) do much of the kind of aid you are talking about, although I don’t know of any prohibition that would keep them from doing so.

    IMO, your efforts are laudable, but for Mormons your keeping the woman in sanctuary is a little difficult to square in the face of the Article of Faith prescription for honoring, obeying and sustaining the law. Still that shouldn’t keep us from humanitarian aid — food and medicine.

  35. Kent Larsen on November 18, 2008 at 1:15 am

    Brian W (32):

    I understand your position, although I’d prefer to be a bit more charitable. These days drug felonies seem to be handed out like traffic tickets. Are there any drug misdemeanors anymore?

    I do think that it is wise to prohibit criminals likely to commit crimes again from entering the U.S.

    I’m sure no one will be surprised when I say that I don’t think my friend is one of them.

  36. Kent Larsen on November 18, 2008 at 1:19 am

    greenfrog (24):

    I hope you don’t mind me disagreeing that my friend is one who has a “propensity to violate laws” — IMO, one violation does not a propensity make.

    Of course, your legal training may tell you differently — it could well be that one violation is enough under the law, despite the fact that, last I looked, it took at least two points to show a trend.

  37. Steve Evans on November 18, 2008 at 2:11 am

    Hey, how come the comment numbers are completely off? Methinks some of our remarks need to hire a coyote to get them out of the mod queue.

  38. Kent Larsen on November 18, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Steve (36):

    I ended up deleting a lot of comments that were off topic, as I threatened to do in the post. This meant that references to comment #s became wrong. I’m sorry for this, but I couldn’t help it.

    Several people couldn’t seem to get it in their heads that this post is about what the law should be and the morality of the law, and NOT about enforcement and who is breaking the law.

  39. Mathew on November 18, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Kent (#31),

    I was obliquely commenting on the wrong-headedness of the idea of assimilation as a pre-existing requirement for immigration. We assimilate parts of the cultures immigrants bring with them into our culture even as they assimilate into the dominant culture. This is natural and inevitable. My wife came to this country when she was two years old so of course identifies more with America than her country of origin. Her parents command of the English language, on the other hand, is still poor even after living here for 25+ years. They don’t understand many of the nuances of the dominant culture. So what. That hasn’t prevent my FIL and MIL from making tens of millions of dollars, starting and owning businesses that employ hundreds of people. That hasn’t prevented my wife and her siblings from attending the best universities in the country and becoming productive members of society. Assimilation is over rated. Belief in the American dream trumps it every time.

  40. john f. on November 18, 2008 at 8:27 am

    I really am shocked by the hardheartedness of many of the comments here. The Gospel enjoins us straightforwardly to care for the poor. Denying them care at hospitals directly contradicts this injunction.

    United States immigration laws have absolutely nothing to do with the Gospel. To the extent that racism plays any part in them, they are in fact evil and simply contrary to the Gospel.

    It is true the cultures of poverty and extraordinary corruption have completely strangled the home countries of many of the immigrants who seek a new home and life in the United States of America. This is all the more reason to grant them safe haven in a society such as ours that offers strong instutitions and political heritage, both facilitated by our remarkable acknowledgment and respect for the rule of law and civic republicanism.

    To take the hardliner approach to them runs afoul of Moroni 7:45. Instead we should try to extend a hand of love, friendship and understanding toward them; to acknowledge that the poverty into which they were born is not their own fault and is not a permanent condition but rather that in a society with the right institutions and principles each one of them can provide an honest and decent life for themselves.

    The current immigration laws, it seems to me, are entirely inimical to the project of Zion that was and should still be the mission of disciples of Jesus Christ in all ages of time. This project of building Zion has no provision for keeping people out who desire to be here. To the extent that the United States of America is a symbol for Zion more generally, and our own Latter-day Saint heritage of attempting to establish Zion communities is a part of that larger project, then the type of immigration laws that are in place bring us further from that goal.

  41. Geoff B on November 18, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Kent, I agree with you completely when you say:

    “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.”

    Please count me among the Mormon conservatives who feels that we should basically have an open-door policy when it comes to immigration. I know that’s not a huge group. I think this is especially true when an economy is in recession — immigrants bring dynamism and energy and capital that creates new jobs. Our current immigration laws are an abomination, and I can find no scriptural justification for restricting the free movement of peoples.

  42. wichitaks on November 18, 2008 at 10:34 am

    What is it about ” mexico ” that;
    it has NOT developed as a nation / civilization ……..vs Canada & USA …………?
    —per Professor George Grayson, during a CNN interview
    “I think we prefer to patronize the Mexicans or buy into their victimization argument. Mexico has everything, ~ oil, gas, gold, silver, copper, beaches, historical artifacts.
    If Taiwan could lease Mexico for 20 years, we gringos would soon be whining about the colossus in the South.”
    Mexico ~ with a GDP larger than most European countries ~ will not invest its financial resources into primary education, although it does pamper the children of the elites with virtually free education at the University of Mexico. ”

    Eisenhower had it right about illegal immigration.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0706/p09s01-coop.html
    Reagan, Bush, McCain-Kennedy had it wrong.
    Illegal immigration exacerbates the conflict of “citizens rights & responsibilities” vs “human rights & dignity”.
    The USA judicial system seems to get the two concepts confused.
    Responsible population growth in the USA is a key component of opportunity for all.
    If religious communities, the ACLU & the US chamber of commerce want to help illegals; perhaps they should spend more time & effort pushing their human rights agendas in Mexico & further south of the border.

  43. Tony on November 18, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Re. #44- Word!

  44. Tony on November 18, 2008 at 11:16 am

    This thread has gone to hell with all of the deletions and re-numberings. If you are going to delete all of the threads you disagree with why not just delete the whole thing?

  45. Rameumptom on November 18, 2008 at 11:21 am

    I personally am for liberating our immigration laws. That said, I would not consider a convicted drug dealer a good candidate for immigration. High priest or not, society does not know him from Adam. Having worked in the Indiana prison system for a few years now, I can say that the toughest recidivism problem we have is with drugs. A person gets out and tries to live a normal life. Things get tough and so he looks at his options, seeing the only way out is to go back to dealing drugs again.
    While your high priest may be an exception, he is a rare exception, especially when it comes to Latinos and drug dealing.
    Even a liberalized immigration policy has to have some structure, otherwise we would have millions of con men and criminals come up here for their piece of the pie. Tragic as it is, his wife should have realized the consequences of 1) marrying an illegal, and 2) marrying one that has a criminal record. Maybe they can consider settling down in a “warmer climate” and bless a small branch somewhere with their experience?

  46. Mark B. on November 18, 2008 at 11:42 am

    It’s odd how working for decent immigration policy brings together groups as disparate as the ACLU and the Chamber of Commerce.

    That should suggest to us where the anti-immigrant fringe belong–out beyond the pale of civilized discourse.

    Wichita is right–in a very limited sense. Mexico has problems, and has mismanaged its natural wealth and stifled the economic growth that could make it a modern prosperous nation. What he doesn’t explain, though, is why the poor citizens of Mexico should be made to suffer for the sins of their leaders.

    The population growth argument is arrant nonsense. It’s just another mask for bigotry. If increasing population is leading to more sprawl, more traffic congestion and longer commutes, the solution is intelligent city planning.

    The “citizen’s responsibilities” argument is a red herring. What evidence is there that natural-born Americans are any more likely to take any such responsibilities upon themselves than immigrants? And, what better way to stop immigrants from shouldering those responsibilities than to permanently bar them from becoming citizens?

  47. John Mansfield on November 18, 2008 at 11:59 am

    It seems that the instructions in the Doctrine and Covenants regarding the organization of migration to Zion would be relevant for considering gospel-based migration concepts. Scanning the post and comments though, this doesn’t seem the place to consider such teachings unfortunately.

  48. DavidH on November 18, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    John F,

    Well said and amen.

  49. Tony on November 18, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Right on, Rameumptom (post # [currently] 44).

  50. Kent Larsen on November 18, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Tony (43):

    No one has, to my knowledge, deleted any comment that they disagreed with. I certainly have not. I have deleted comments that are OFF TOPIC according to the definition in the post.

    Anyone that posts a comment that is off topic as outlined in the post is warned that their comment will be deleted.

  51. Kent Larsen on November 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Rameumpton (44):

    You need to read the post again. The brother I am talking about is not and has never been a “drug dealer” — he did not sell drugs to anyone.

    He was convicted for possession — i.e., a small amount purchased for personal use.

    If you are going to deport someone for this kind of offense, you should also jail those teenagers who steal their grandparent’s oxycontin to get a high.

    While both deserve to be punished (and I remind you that this brother PAID FOR HIS CRIME ALREADY), jail time and deportation are both overkill — the kind that creates more criminals than it reforms.

    The fact that you have assumed that this brother is a drug dealer is, to be honest, rather offensive. Should I go around claiming that you should be jailed for traffic tickets or whatever other minor offense you may have committed?

  52. Tony on November 18, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Re. 49- Ah, semantics…it’s a wonderful thing.

  53. Kent Larsen on November 18, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    John Mansfield (46):

    This is exactly the kind of input I’m looking for. What exactly is your interpretation of the D&C’s instructions regarding migration?

    I do have the impression that the D&C teaches order and preparation. Is that what you mean?

    If so, what is the balance between those teachings and morality — specifically the obligation to care for others?

  54. Mark B. on November 18, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Don’t turn someone with a conviction for simple drug possession into a drug dealer, Rameumpton.

    Reminds me of an immigration officer that turned an arrest for drug possession (with all charges being dismissed) into a conviction.

    But the argument fails, Ram, on the rehabilitation issue. Despite high failure rates, the criminal law admits the possibility that most criminals can be rehabilitated. When it comes to drugs (even simple possession) the Immigration and Nationality Act admits no such possibility. It’s one strike and you’re out. Forever. Unless it’s less than 30 oz. of marijuana. That seems to be Congress pandering to the “get tough on drugs” crowd, with no sense of proportion. (Again, the lobby for previously convicted drug-users is pretty small. But maybe we could form a lobby for previously convicted drug users who are now Mormons.)

  55. Adam Greenwood on November 18, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    As long as we ration immigration *at all*, refusing spots to persons convicted of crime makes a lot of sense.

  56. thesnakeguy on November 18, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    A lot of the comments have this logic.

    It isn’t the fault of the hard working mexicans that their government is corrupt and have a moral duty to help our fellowman. Therefore if someone doesn’t want to help the ill-plighted mexican they are immoral.

    We aren’t able to help everyone. So unless these people who are making these arguments have given all their earthly possessions to charitable causes, then I can’t follow their logic. It is a matter of pragmatism. When you are making an investment decision you always look at the other alternative that you could have used that money for. The same is true in these charitable cases. Is there another policy compared to open borders that would be more moral. All the options have benefits and negatives. What affect does mass immigration have on the culture of the united states? Are the principles that America stands for that will be lost if we don’t teach them to those who immigrate to the country? Are we unable to teach these principles if their are so many immigrants that they can continue to exist in their own mini-cultures within America and never learn the principles that makes America great? if you believe there are principles that make America great aren’t you immoral if you allow America lose it’s greatness. See this is the problem. you can’t look at issues one by one. Things aren’t always black and white, they have adantages and disadvantages and reasonable people can agree and disagree about which outways which. Immigration does affect the culture of the country, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. We should try and create policies that allow us to take advantage of the positive cultural changes and avoid the negative ones.

    The church has worked hard to stop gay marraige from being accepted in the culture of the country. The gospel principles that support that argument also support the argument that we should strive to manage the affect immigrants will have on the culture in positive ways.

  57. Mark B. on November 18, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    It is hard to fault the logic of one who is clearly a product of our fine public school system, whose command of the English language is faultless, where pronouns always point precisely and unambiguously to their antecedents. Despite the challenges, I’ll take a stab at it.

    My first inclination is to respond to thesnakeguy as Vinny did to the prosecutor’s opening statement in My Cousin Vinny:

    Everything that guy just said is bull*(&t… Thank you.

    But, since I’d risk having the entire statement, other than “Thank you” stricken from the record, I’ll revise and extend my remarks.

    One would hope that the gospel would impel us to act charitably toward all men. But acting charitably to immigrants to this country does not make them “charity cases.” They are hard-working people who contribute more to our economy than they take from it, and whose principal motive is to better themselves, and, more important, their children. They’re not asking for handouts. They’re looking for work. And, for the most part, they work extremely hard–at jobs that most of us would just plain not be willing to do.

    Like the Ecuadorean immigrant who was killed two weeks ago by some young American tough guys, who decided to go looking for “some Mexicans.” The newspaper said he worked at a dry cleaners. I’ve known some immigrants who work at dry cleaners. Usually they’re the presser. Ten or twelve hours a day they press your suits and skirts and shirts. Ten or twelve hours with a hot steam iron, standing there pressing your clothes so you can cover your illiterate backside as you sit at your desk. And all done while surrounded by the lovely aroma of perchloroethylene. Six days a week. You try it. See if you can last a day. Or half a day.

    If you do, then, perhaps, you’ll forget about these people being “charity cases.”

  58. Taylor on November 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Mark B (55), it’s disappointing that you’ve chosen to represent the “charitable” side of this discussion with such uncharitable language.

    The comment from thesnakeguy(54) that you so charitably lambasted actually helped me understand my own feelings on the issue quite a bit. Let me take a stab at explaining them:

    1. We all seem to agree that the current set of immigration laws are overly arbitrary (especially quotas based on nation of origin) and are not optimally meeting the needs of either immigrants *or* our Nation. This is unfortunate, and should certainly be changed.

    2. A few of us here (and I’m guessing a few more not commenting for fear of the wrath of MarkB) really *do* see an application of the “wisdom and order” clause here. This is not a defense of our current laws — just a hesitation to throw the door wide to any and all comers. More on this in a second…

    3. The scriptures (the Book of Mormon, in particular) are full of stories about breastworks of timbers and banks of earth and walls of stone erected by *righteous* leaders in order to protect the people of God. It’s tough for me to come up with an argument that this is not a proper and righteous purpose. As much as I *yearn* for a world in which everyone coming across the border is doing so with the sole intent of bettering their life in a productive way, this is simply not true. Nobody really likes to admit it, but there *are* people out there actively trying to enter our country with malice on their mind.

    4. Does placing restrictions on immigration hinder the movement of many good, hard-working people? Yes. Obviously. In many cases, sadly. Is this avoidable, while doing our level best to protect what we believe to be an important nation? Not completely, in any realistic sense. Heck, even Ammon got picked up by the righteous king Limhi’s “Border Patrol Agents” for just walking into the land of Nephi, right? Who better to let immigrate than Ammon?

    5. I struggle greatly at times with finding that balance between my God-given responsibility to support my family and my God-given responsibility to succor the needy. What fraction of my every paycheck should I be donating to the poor every month? When the rubber hits the road on every other Friday, what equation should I be using to balance these two variables? Am I currently erring on the side of supporting my *own* children today? Would it be possible for me to err in the other direction? How should the immigration laws of our nation affect my personal agency with regards to this question? To what extent should the government mandate the fraction of my income that is used to succor those who are (at least by the Colossus definition) both poor and homeless, and therefore in fairly great need of my succor?

    6. Is working to change the laws to find a better balance a good thing? I think so. Is throwing the door wide open to any and all comers wise or orderly? Not in my estimation.

    Here’s a sincere question for those of you advocating open immigration… Is controlling our border such that we know who is coming in or out too much to ask? (King Limhi and Captain Moroni thought that was okay…) Is it unreasonable to have all immigrants (and all citizens, for that matter) get a social security number so that we can make sure that for better or for worse, they are “part of the system?” I hear conflicting opinions on these questions, and I sincerely would love to hear your thoughts.

    …and while I personally am about as white-bread as they come, I *have* lived overseas (both before and after a mission), I *do* speak a foreign language fluently, I *do* have a lot of immigrant friends, many of my foreign co-workers (including the NASA rocket scientist immigrant from Mexico) are among my favorite people in the world, and I *love* really hot spicy food with ingredients that many might classify as “dodgy.” Please don’t go down the bigot road. Please.

    Please pardon the typos… The smell of a delicious dinner is wafting in the office door, and I’m feeling a sudden urge to go pray with my family. ;-)

  59. Amanda on November 18, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    As someone who works with drug offenders in the Criminal Justice system – if I saw someone had a possession charge from 5 yrs ago, 10 yrs ago, 20 yrs ago or even longer, and no other criminal charges…I would be comfortable with giving that person the benefit of the doubt. Most of the people that I work with have multiple charges and can’t seem to stay out of legal trouble. So as an immigration issue, it appears that this man is a productive member of society and doesn’t pose the same risk that a lot of US-born citizens do. (And yes, of course there are misdemeanor drug charges…depends on the type and quantity. And I haven’t seen that they hand out felony drug charges like traffic tickets, only when people are committing felonious acts:)).

  60. Kent Larsen on November 18, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    thesnakeguy (54):

    Your suggestion that pragmatism has a role in immigration law is, I think, true. I doubt that anyone here is suggesting that there be no restrictions whatsoever. I am in favor of rational restrictions that help manage the capacity of our country to accept, house and support immigrants and restrictions that maintain the safety of those already here — screening for terrorists and criminals who are likely to cause problems here also.

    But, I think there is a difference between the moral issues involved with our personal charity and the moral issues in our laws. In the case of charity, the moral choice is whether or not to do something. In the case of our immigration laws, the moral choice is whether or not to prohibit others from doing something.

    You might call the failure to be charitable a sin of omission, while keeping immigrants from coming here is surely a committed act. Every year our elected representatives decide to spend millions of dollars to keep people out, and in recent years large sectors of American politics have called for our government to spend even more keeping out others.

    To me this seems like a very large difference. To bring it to a personal level, failing to give food to my neighbor is one thing, but walling off my orchard so that my neighbor can’t get in is another. Yes the latter makes sense in many cases. But if I have plenty and my neighbor is starving, it quickly becomes still more morally questionable than failing to help the neighbor.

  61. Kent Larsen on November 19, 2008 at 12:04 am

    Taylor (56):

    2. A few of us here (and I’m guessing a few more not commenting for fear of the wrath of MarkB) really *do* see an application of the “wisdom and order” clause here. This is not a defense of our current laws — just a hesitation to throw the door wide to any and all comers. More on this in a second…

    First, I don’t think you need to fear the wrath of MarkB. He’s really a great guy. I suspect more are not commenting because they either don’t understand the distinction of what is on topic and what isn’t (I’m sorry if I haven’t been clear enough. I’m open to explaining it futher if need be) or because they haven’t thought much about what the law should be — they just don’t like the fact that the law is being violated.

    Second, while I can’t speak for MarkB, I can say that I understand the need for “wisdom and order.” BUT, the current laws we have are NOT about wisdom and order! They are about protecting financially those that are here and those that look a certain way.

    My own ideal would be immigration laws that screen for terrorists and criminals (but minor, single offenses should be let in, IMO) and put light limits on the total number of immigrants to make sure that our infrastructure can handle the new arrivals and ensure that immigrants have a shot at earning a living. Current limits are way too low for these objectives. Our infrastructure can handle a lot more than it has now, and clearly the illegal immigrants that are coming now are finding jobs (the market handles most of this issue, IMO).

    3. …snip… Nobody really likes to admit it, but there *are* people out there actively trying to enter our country with malice on their mind.

    I have no problem with restrictions on those likely to commit crimes, as long as our definition of what is likely and what crimes are worth our time aren’t out of control. You can probably tell from my comments above that I don’t think a single conviction for possession of a controlled substance should be enough to keep someone out.

    4. Does placing restrictions on immigration hinder the movement of many good, hard-working people? Yes. Obviously. In many cases, sadly. Is this avoidable,

    Well, I’m not sure that it is unavoidable. It would be easy, IMO, to craft laws that allow in a lot more people while maintaining our safety and protect our nation. I really don’t think anyone is arguing for no restrictions whatsoever. I am saying that our current laws make no sense, and that we need to let many more people in than we are now.

    5. I struggle greatly at times with finding that balance between my God-given responsibility to support my family and my God-given responsibility to succor the needy.

    …snip…

    To what extent should the government mandate the fraction of my income that is used to succor those who are (at least by the Colossus definition) both poor and homeless, and therefore in fairly great need of my succor?

    Perhaps I am hearing you incorrectly, but you seem to be implying that immigration is generally going to cost our nation money instead of grow our economy and make us better off. This is a common assumption, that is, IMO, wrong. Even illegal immigrants, according to the studies I’ve seen, have a positive economic impact on our economy.

    Here’s a sincere question for those of you advocating open immigration… Is controlling our border such that we know who is coming in or out too much to ask? (King Limhi and Captain Moroni thought that was okay…) Is it unreasonable to have all immigrants (and all citizens, for that matter) get a social security number so that we can make sure that for better or for worse, they are “part of the system?” I hear conflicting opinions on these questions, and I sincerely would love to hear your thoughts.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think that it is too much to ask. But I think your questions imply some misconceptions. I think those of us in favor of more immigration do want reasonable controls over who is coming in. In fact, more legal immigration discourages illegal immigration, which is where the terrorists and criminals come in. If you make it easier to come in legally, then the legal people will actually get screened. If you make it hard to come in, then you have something like 10 or 20 million people in our borders who haven’t been screened because they came illegally.

    As for social security numbers, most immigrants I’ve met WANT a social security number or its equivalent. The ones that don’t have them are the illegal immigrants, who have come because the system doesn’t give them an opportunity to come legally.

  62. Blake on November 19, 2008 at 12:14 am

    I’m torn on this issue. I would support a very liberal immigration policy if:

    If our schools weren’t already at a breaking point I would say open the borders; but the reality is that our schools are stretched beyond any reasonable demand and already at risk of collapse from the vast monetary burdens placed on them by foreign nationals who are here illegally. The cost of educating their children is enormous and they don’t support education with their tax dollars.

    If our hospitals and emergency rooms and basic medical services weren’t already way too expensive; but they are and the cost of basic medical services is already way out of reasonable proportion and beyond the breaking the point.

    If our basic governmental services weren’t already beyond their capacity; but they are.

    I don’t have a duty to support all of Mexico with my tax dollars. I don’t have a duty to support those who are Mexican nationals with their health care. It is the duty of their government and their initiatives to provide these basic services for themselves.

    If I believed that in fact American teenagers just wouldn’t accept those jobs in construction and the fast food industry — but I do believe that they will and I believe that foreign nationals are taking jobs away from Americans in a desperate financial situation.

    If I didn’t believe that our borders were already way too porous and insecure . . .but I believe they are a leaking and exposing the entire nation to massive risk.

    If I didn’t believe that a disproportionate amount of crime were caused by illegal aliens that places a heavy burden on law enforcement . . . but the fact is that the crime rate is vastly disproportionate for illegal aliens and the cost to our economy as a result is enormous.

    I am torn because I have many close friends who are here illegally. I love them and I don’t want them to be deported. I would like to see work programs and visas so that the costs of these foreign nationals is paid by their “employers” who reap an unfair profit as a result of not paying matching employment taxes by paying their vastly depressed wages under the table. I would like to see programs where employers can request foreign labor for jobs that otherwise cannot be filled (fat chance in this economy).

    We cannot be all things to all people.

  63. aloysiusmiller on November 19, 2008 at 12:52 am

    30. Kent we were not just born here. We were born to people who sacrificed for a culture and a way of life. We are the product of their choice to raise a posterity in a free land. The gospel talks about birth rights. How do we get these? This country is our legacy and our birthright.

  64. john f. on November 19, 2008 at 7:00 am

    “This country is our legacy and our birthright.”

    This country is the legacy and birthright of all who seek the freedoms promised here. It has nothing to do with your birth; that is a matter of circumstance. It is the dreadful Calvinist God who works in such a fashion, not the revealed God of the Restored Gospel.

  65. Kent Larsen on November 19, 2008 at 7:03 am

    Blake (60):

    The problems you outline exist NOT because aliens (illegal or otherwise) are here. They largely exist because we are too cheap to fund our government properly. We don’t have the educational resources because we aren’t willing to pay them, even with the tax dollars that illegal immigrants pay swelling our tax rolls (many illegal immigrants end up paying taxes on someone else’s social security number and then never filing to claim any refund). Hospitals are burdened because our kooky system for funding healthcare pushes the poor to use emergency rooms as doctors and is so cost focused that hospitals have a hard time paying for their necessary overhead.

    You seem to believe, incorrectly IMO, that immigrants contribute nothing, earning and keeping 100% of their wages at the expense of others. But even illegal immigrants usually pay taxes of some kind (sales taxes on what the purchase certainly, and usually employment taxes too – most businesses can’t pay wages under the table like the stereotype would have us believe).

    Immigrants create jobs also. They need the same basic things that the rest of us need — housing, food, clothing, recreation, etc. Why do you assume that they only take away jobs from U.S. citizens? In fact, employers in many industries (construction, restaurants, agriculture) claim they can’t get enough workers. Somehow over the past 15 years our economy has absorbed something like 10 million illegal immigrants — and all this while our unemployment rate is at fairly low levels — how do you explain that? If illegal immigrants weren’t needed and were taking jobs away from U.S. citizens, wouldn’t the unemployment rate go up?

    Our borders do let in too many illegal immigrants. BUT IF YOU MAKE THEM LEGAL, they will come across the border legally, which will allow us to check them and reduce the workload for the border patrol. So making them legal WILL MAKE OUR BORDERS MORE SECURE!!

    Yes illegal immigrants commit more crimes. But what about legal immigrants? How much of the disproportionate crime comes from the fact that they are illegal, and are sometimes driven to desperation? How much comes from the fact that they are simply adjusting to an unfamiliar culture? If immigrants are the source of a huge amount of crime, then wouldn’t our crime rates be increasing, and those studying the rates be attributing the change to them? Instead I hear police attributing increasing rates to drugs more than illegal immigrants. AND, for what its worth, crime rates nationwide have been dropping last I heard. I know they’ve been going down here in New York City.

    You are right that we can’t be all things to all people. There are limits. But I don’t think we are anywhere near the limits of what we can handle. I don’t think your pessimistic view of things matches the realities of the burdens on our government and society.

    The question I have for you is simple: Why do you believe that immigration is a negative influence on our nation and economy, when the evidence seems to point in the opposite direction?

  66. Kent Larsen on November 19, 2008 at 7:07 am

    aloysiusmiller (61):

    John F. is right. Unless you are 100% native American, somewhere in your genealogy are ancestors who immigrated here to the U.S. [Heck, the Book of Mormon says that even the native Americans are immigrants if you go back far enough.]

    And even assuming we do have some kind of birthright, why does that mean others can’t immigrate, and by doing so share in that birthright?

  67. john f. on November 19, 2008 at 7:16 am

    There’s nothing in the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants that states that an affluent modern state should close its borders to poor and desperate people looking for work and freedom. In fact, there’s nothing about twentieth and twenty-first century immigration policy at all. There certainly is nothing in there that would support the idea that “we” have to keep “them” out because “they” threaten our economic prosperity by their presence.

    There is, however, a mountain of material from which it can be directly inferred that such runs contrary to the impulse of building Zion. Any inference someone might choose to draw from the scriptures in favor of the approach propsed by immigration hardliners on this thread, however, seems the product of very circuitous reasoning from passages of scripture that simply aren’t germane.

  68. John Mansfield on November 19, 2008 at 9:15 am

    John Fowles, you seem to think that if you express your view with enough indignation and disparage the morality of others’ opinions sufficiently, then that means you are on the side of the angels and must be right, and the others are greedy, hard-hearted people whose thoughts, worries, and readings can be instantly dismissed. The scriptures do have some interesting things to say about nations, borders, and migrations, as useful for considering with regard to our modern condition as other matters in those old writings. Considering such things fully isn’t the point, though. The point is for well-off people to proclaim their comfortable situation (“Those things can’t impact my job or my neighborhood. I’m not some loser who can’t climb to the top where such things don’t matter.”) and claim there is something noble about stripping developing nations of bright, ambitious people and widening inequality in America.

  69. Blake on November 19, 2008 at 10:17 am

    John F. There is nothing in the Book of Mormon or other scriptures that addresses immigration at all — with the possible exception of parts of the OT which are squarely against open borders. The scriptures NEVER address the notion that the State must act coercively to tax its citizens to support those from another nation. There is the notion that a people can covenant to become part of God’s people and then they will be supported by the Church (the anti-Nephi-Lehis); but that is a far cry from the coercive government systems that require support for a redistribution of wealth. I believe that you are wresting the scriptures on political issues which they very clearly don’t address. In a sense, that kind of misuse of scripture, of God, to support a political hegemony is a kind of idolatry in my view.

    Kent: The problem with your view is that it denies the fairly obvious: (1) our schools are at a breaking point with overcrowding and lack of funding; (2) our healthcare system is taxed way beyond the means of almost all Americans; (3) aliens are vastly under-taxed and don’t contribute the amount necessary to support them (I suggest a large part of the responsibility lies with their employers who pay them depressed wages under the table); (4) and the only solution is to raise taxes even more. Every solution you point to leads to vast tax increases.

    The cost to states for eduction of aliens is hundreds of billions of dollars. The cost to states and the federal government for medical assistance is more than a trillion dollars. The aliens are a negative net effect on the economy because they don’t support their cost to infrastructure for law enforcement, education and medical costs. They are a drain on the economy because they ship vast amounts of capital out of the country to support their families in foreign countries. You suggest we are not at our limit yet . . . but I suggest that we are. Look at the economy, look at the national and states debts, look at the tax burden from all levels of government. The economy is in collapse.

    That said, I don’t disagree with legalizing work programs and making their stay legal. I am against an illegal wind-fall to employers who hire illegals. These unscrupulous employers get a free rider benefit because they don’t pay the employers taxes, the health care and other costs associated with employees. They reap an unfair profit, pay a depressed wage and don’t support the very infrastructure that they benefit from in hiring illegally. I say let’s fine them so heavily they cannot afford to do that. But let’s also put programs in place where they can obtain foreign labor as long as they agree to pay taxes, provide medical benefits and pay for the costs to infrastructure and schools. Let’s also make them pay a fair wage.

    The real question is whether these aliens will be hired once their true cost to the economy is reflected in their fair wages and other costs necessary to support them. I say let’s let the free market handle that issue. We’ve already seen what happens when big government gets involved to make loans available that are much cheaper than the market would bear. We also are seeing what happens when big government steps in to clean up the messes made by big government — handouts to the incompetent and dishonest who created the problem in the first place.

  70. Mark B. on November 19, 2008 at 10:29 am

    In the midst of everything else Blake says, this line:

    (3) aliens are vastly under-taxed and don’t contribute the amount necessary to support them (I suggest a large part of the responsibility lies with their employers who pay them depressed wages under the table);

    is simply not true. [Citation coming.}

  71. Researcher on November 19, 2008 at 10:35 am

    “The problem with your view is that it denies the fairly obvious: (1) our schools are at a breaking point with overcrowding and lack of funding” (Blake, 67)

    That may be true where you live, but it is not the case in my area. No overcrowding. No lack of funding. Perhaps a little too much funding, if anything.

    The United States is a large place. It may be dangerous to extrapolate observations about your immediate area of the country, even assuming they’re accurate, to the entire nation.

    (Just saying that I wouldn’t attack Kent’s arguments based on this point.)

    “The aliens are a negative net effect on the economy because they don’t support their cost to infrastructure for law enforcement, education and medical costs. (67 again)

    Where are you getting your data?

    And what does this have to do with the topic of the original post?

    “Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—”

  72. Blake on November 19, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Boy Mark, I’m waiting. While we’re waiting, check out the facts here: http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=iic_immigrationissuecentersf134

    and this: http://www.heritage.org/research/immigration/sr9.cfm

  73. Blake on November 19, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Researcher et al.: What does King Benjamin’s words of giving voluntary offerings for the poor have to do with a governmental program regarding illegal immigration? I suggest nothing. We’re dealing with apples and oranges; coercion and free will; government programs and private voluntary initiative. “Once of these things is not like the other” as Sesame Street says.

  74. Blake on November 19, 2008 at 10:49 am
  75. Researcher on November 19, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Thanks for answering my question, Blake. I’ve only had a mild interest in the immigration debate, so I wasn’t aware of the major players. Very interesting choice of studies and think tanks.

    The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation’s immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest.
    FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest—more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year. [From fairus.org]

    The Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C.
    The foundation took a leading role in the conservative movement during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, whose policies drew significantly from Heritage’s policy study Mandate for Leadership. Heritage has since continued to play a significant role in U.S. public policy debate and is widely considered to be one of the most influential research organizations in the United States. [From wikipedia]

    The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization founded in 1985. It is the nation’s only think tank devoted exclusively to research and policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States.
    It is the Center’s mission to expand the base of public knowledge and understanding of the need for an immigration policy that gives first concern to the broad national interest. The Center is animated by a pro-immigrant, low-immigration vision which seeks fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted. [From cis.org]

  76. wichitaks on November 19, 2008 at 11:58 am

    (Excerpted from “The age of the economist” ~
    Out of the Reformation came a new economic ethic that gave the profit motivated market economy (aka ~ capitalism) its moral letters of credit. A problem arises because of the inherent conflict between the ethical principle of “all men are brothers” vs the legal principle of “let the buyer beware.”
    This moral dilemma has puzzled philosophers & ecclesiastics from the 16th century onward. Attempted solutions appeared in the religious controversies of the 16th century, in the 18th century philosophy of “noblesse oblige”, in the writings of nineteenth century socialist, and in the welfare legislation of the twentieth century.)

    The robust nature of today’s capitalism has the propensity to denigrate the poor, the weak & the confused.
    The boundaries we choose to live our lives in; be that as individual, family, community, state, nation, international etc…. compounds our opportunities, as well as, our responsibilities.

  77. John Mansfield on November 19, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I expect these words will earn the same instant dismissal that any caution about open borders earns, but we’ll see. Here are some concepts about the stakes of Zion: 1) They are established as a place for the saints to gather, including the poor. 2) A stake in a particular place has a finite capacity, including a finite capacity to care for the poor. 3) For this reason, the Church seeks to place stakes in many lands. I get this from D&C 101:21, D&C 109:59, and especially HC 2:514-518. I think this would be a righteous model for a nation to follow: gather immigrants, including the poor, within the nation’s capacity to incorporate them wisely.

    Perhaps the current immigration regulations could be improved, but that is as irrelevant to a discussion of desired immigration levels as complaints about illegal immigration. If a nation choses to fix a level of immigration, even using the wisest, most sensible forms of bureaucracy, and that level is lower than the number of people in other lands who would like to come, then some people will have to be told “No, you may not come in.” Perhaps, current levels of immigration are manageable for the United States. Perhaps, a level three times higher than the present would still be manageable. There would still be people who would have to be turned away, and kept away by enforcement. The 2000 census showed that 1.4 million people living in the fifty United States were born in Puerto Rico, a land whose natives are U.S. citizens and may migrate withing the U.S. freely. The population of Puerto Rico is only 3.5 million. There are a billion people around the world who live in nations much poorer than Mexico, and it seems likely that a quarter of them, like the Puerto Ricans, would jump at an open opportunity to move to the United States. That would double the U.S. population, and it wouldn’t be the same nation anymore. Probably the U.S. population wouldn’t double, because before it reached that point opportunities would deteriorate to the point that fewer and fewer would see any advantage in moving there. Producing such conditions doesn’t seem like a charitable thing to do to anybody involved.

    Additionally, in some parts of the United States the case can be made that current immigration levels are already too high. Of particular note, from 1990 to 2000 the white, nonhispanic population of California declined 7% from 17,029,000 to 15,817,000, a difference of 1.2 million. Why did they leave the state? Is California better off without them? Over that same period, the foreign-born population of California increased from 6,459,000 to 8,864,000, an difference of 2.4 million. Is it moral to displace one population with another?

  78. Mark B. on November 19, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Additionally, in some parts of the United States the case can be made that current immigration levels are already too high. Of particular note, from 1990 to 2000 the white, nonhispanic population of California declined 7% from 17,029,000 to 15,817,000, a difference of 1.2 million. Why did they leave the state? Is California better off without them? Over that same period, the foreign-born population of California increased from 6,459,000 to 8,864,000, an difference of 2.4 million. Is it moral to displace one population with another?

    This is troubling. I’m not sure what to make of a suggestion that a decline in proportion of the population which is white non-Hispanic and an increase in the foreign-born (presumably largely Hispanic) are bad. Is this anything more than a “white, native-born folks are good, foreign-born folks are bad” argument?

    And I don’t think there are data to support the assertion that the people who left were “displaced” by those who arrived. There are probably about 1.2 million reasons for people deciding to leave California, but I’d bet none of them were forced out. This isn’t Silesia and Pomerania in 1945.

    On to Blake’s request: here’s a paper prepared for the Council on Foreign Relations that addresses the economic effect of immigration. I’d have posted this sooner, but I couldn’t get into T&S for about 8 hours, and then I was elsewhere calling people names.

    Researcher does those three sources better than they deserve. For an alternative view of FAIR, check out the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center. http://www.splcenter.org They’re an advocacy organization, and they’re obviously on the other side from FAIR, but you can at least see some of the concerns others have with FAIR and its membership.

  79. DavidH on November 19, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    “with the possible exception of parts of the OT which are squarely against open borders.”

    What passages would those be?

  80. aloysiusmiller on November 20, 2008 at 1:18 am

    67 I am not against immigration and extending the rights we have to others. I am just not a damned fool who opens the floodgates to people who want our wealth but are not willing to support our values or learn our language. I actually favor generous legal and controlled immigration but I am totally opposed to the stupidity of open borders.

  81. Elizabeth Mansfield on November 20, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Mark B., that wasn’t a 7% decline in the proportion of white nonhispanic Californians, it was a 7% decline in the absolute number of white nonhispanic Californians.

  82. John Mansfield on November 20, 2008 at 6:33 am

    That last comment was actually by John Mansfield, not Elizabeth.

  83. Mark B. on November 20, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Whether it’s John or Elizabeth, and whether it’s absolute numbers or proportions, the whole line of argument reeks of anti-immigrant, anti-hispanic bias. If there is a neutral principle behind it, I’d welcome your telling me what it is.

    As to the comment of aloysiusmiller (#81), I’d suggest several difficulties:

    “our wealth”–really? sort of like the Panama Canal–”it’s ours, we stole it fair and square”? What have you done to deserve being among the weathiest people ever to live on earth?

    “not willing to support our values”? which values do you mean? and how do some immigrants show their unwillingness?

    “learn our language”? all the data show that language assimilation by the current wave of immigrants is even faster than language assimilation by previous immigrants.

    “damned fool”? someone was damned fool enough to let your ancestors (and mine) into the country. And look how good we turned out.

  84. john f. on November 20, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    John M., they chose to leave — they weren’t forced out.

  85. john f. on November 20, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Mark B., your ancestors and mine were white and were from Western Europe. So there you have it — no conflict with “our” values.

  86. Mark B. on November 20, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    John F.

    But some of mine were Mormons! And someone still let them in.

  87. john f. on November 20, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Didn’t the Mormons in Utah know that 60,000 Scandivanian immigrants flowing in would take away jobs from good old descendants of English immigrants?

  88. Geoff B on November 20, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    I remember the good ol’ days when conservatives recognized that a dynamic, growing economy benefits from immigration and the human and financial capital that immigrants bring. I remember the good ol’ days when conservatives trumpeted an economy based on competition and “survival of the fittest.” I remember the good ol’ days when conservatives concentrated on character, not racial or ethnic backgrounds. Those good ol’ days were in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which allowed — gasp — amnesty for illegal immigrants because they were helping America grow and prosper. I don’t see how anything has really changed since then, except for the attitudes of people who call themselves conservatives. It makes me quite sad.

  89. Mark B. on November 20, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Hear, hear! Geoff.

  90. Adam Greenwood on November 20, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    One thing that has changed since then was the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Its amnesty was sold to the public on the grounds that the government would toughen up enforcement so that future illegal immigration would not be a problem. Instead illegal immigration increased. Enforcement efforts were nil.

  91. Adam Greenwood on November 20, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    I don’t want to be a devotee of the mean old Calvinist God, but I’m a little struck by the notion that the Mormon God is one who thinks its an injustice that anyone would ever suffer or benefit from anything that wasn’t their own personal choice. This means that the Mormon God isn’t the one who made promises to Abraham that He would bless Abraham’s seed. This means that the Mormon God isn’t the one in the Book of Mormon who made promises to Nephi and others that because of their righteousness, God would not forget a remnant of their seed. This means that the Mormon God isn’t the one who inspired Mormon prophets and apostles in recent conferences to promise parents that because of their righteousness their wayward children would eventually be drawn back into the fold. This means that the Mormon God is one who doesn’t want me to have any real, lasting influence on someone else.

    I would prefer to think that this isn’t the case.

  92. Geoff B on November 20, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Adam, I don’t disagree with you in terms of the purpose of the 1986 act. But the biggest reason for the increase in illegal immigration was the difficulty involved in becoming legal. In other words, if we had a more dynamic immigration policy that reflected the needs of employers and willingness to work, the illegal immigration problem would be much smaller because all of the illegal people would be legal.

    Let me put it to you this way: when I lived in Brazil four years ago, I knew dozens of people who tried to get visas to the United States. They were basically turned away — even for a 30-day visit to go to Disneyland — unless they were upper-middle class to rich and could prove they had extensive assets in their home countries. And forget about immigrating to work in the United States — even with a signed letter from a reputable employer, they faced months of delays and hassles.

    Our immigration policies don’t reflect the realities of supply and demand. Any discussion of illegality vs. legality must include a discussion of realistic market conditions.

  93. Adam Greenwood on November 20, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    A lot of the increase in illegal immigration has to do with the increased ease of immigrating illegally–which has a lot to do with more immigrant networks inside the United States, with better communications, cheaper travel and, paradoxically, with better conditions in the countries of origin. Also, you can’t talk about the “biggest reason” for the increase without acknowleding that no stepped-up enforcement efforts were made. And that recently states that have stepped up enforcement have seen results.

    “Realistic market conditions” has to include some consideration of third-party effects, i.e., that effect that a free market in immigration would have on Americans who weren’t employers, on our health care system, on our schools, on our culture, on our own poor, etc. If there really were no legal checks on immigration to this country I would estimate that we would get a minimum of 50-100 million immigrants in the next 10 years. Probably more. The country wouldn’t stand for it, and you’d have to a dictatorship to make it happen, but that’s a small price to pay for abiding by the mountains of texts in the scriptures that counsel us to have an open door immigration policy.

  94. Blake on November 20, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Geoff B: Just what do you think that my proposal enshrines? Let’s let the real cost of employing illegal aliens be reflected in their wages that employers must pay — the cost to infrastructure, medical costs, education and insurances of all types plus the employer matching and mandatory FAIR WAGE. After the real costs of employing illegals matches the costs of employing Americans, then we can have a level playing field that isn’t unfair to those already here to foot the bill to unfairly support a population that isn’t taxed equally and from whom employers get an unfair windfall. Let’s legalize their labor with a fair market reflection of their actual cost to labor the same way we do with American workers (sort of in our more and more socialistic system where government constantly interferes in the free market and creates economic depressions by so doing).

    Once.the market price of illegal labor reflects the real cost on a level playing field with Americans, then we can talk about equity and fairness. Then let’s see if the market will bear that fair cost. If it does — great! If it doesn’t, then the illegal alien problem will take care of itself.

    I remember the days when fairness truly was market and economic fairness without free riders and unfair windfalls.I remember the days when fairness meant not just giving a benefit to a population that disregarded the law. I remember those days — and if we left it to you I doubt we would ever see them again. One thing is sure — such fairness doesn’t exist in the present system.

  95. John Mansfield on November 20, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Something to consider, ignore, or mock, according to the inclination of each:

    Thus it cometh out of the church, for according to the law every man that cometh up to Zion must lay all things before the bishop in Zion. And now, verily I say unto you, that as every elder in this part of the vineyard must give an account of his stewardship unto the bishop in this part of the vineyard—A certificate from the judge or bishop in this part of the vineyard, unto the bishop in Zion, rendereth every man acceptable, and answereth all things, for an inheritance, and to be received as a wise steward and as a faithful laborer; Otherwise he shall not be accepted of the bishop of Zion.

    A few words in addition to the laws of the kingdom, respecting the members of the church—they that are appointed by the Holy Spirit to go up unto Zion, and they who are privileged to go up unto Zion—Let them carry up unto the bishop a certificate from three elders of the church, or a certificate from the bishop; Otherwise he who shall go up unto the land of Zion shall not be accounted as a wise steward. This is also an ensample.

    D&C 72:15-18,24-26

  96. John Mansfield on November 20, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Also, D&C 63:24:

    And now, behold, this is the will of the Lord your God concerning his saints, that they should assemble themselves together unto the land of Zion, not in haste, lest there should be confusion, which bringeth pestilence.

  97. DavidH on November 20, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Blake,

    Could you further explain what you mean by a “fair wage”, how it would be set and who would determine if it is “fair”? Is there a way the “market” would or could set this “fair wage” (or should I, for emphasis, say “FAIR WAGE”)?

  98. Blake on November 20, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    DavidH: A fair wage is one that includes the employer picking up the tab for at least minimum wage; pays for medical (including dental and psych) and auto insurance benefits; pays an added tax for a school levy and insures that employer matching is paid along with W2s and 1099s being filled out and filed — essentially the same for the American workers who live in United States. Such a requirement insures that aliens are not exploited and neither are taxpayers exploited by the free rider problem of employers who avoid all of these costs now with illegal aliens who are largely paid under the table or who don’t pay these amounts for the depressed wages.

    In addition, the employer should request such workers and demonstrate that there are not able-bodied American workers who are willing to take such jobs. With the economy the way it is and rising unemployment now there will be more and more Americans vying for jobs filled by illegal aliens. Such efforts are necessary to level the playing field.

  99. Mark B. on November 21, 2008 at 9:07 am

    I guess I don’t understand why instructions about the gathering of the saints to Zion apply (or should have any application to) the immigration of people who aren’t saints to the United States of America (which, last I checked, is not Zion).

  100. Geoff B on November 21, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Adam G, it seems pretty clear to me from studying demographic trends that figures like 50-100 million people are alarmist. As you know from reading Mark Steyn and others, Latin American population growth is slowing way down, and in fact within 10-15 years Latin America’s population is likely to stabilize. This, along with economic growth and relative prosperity in the largest economies, will cause people to stay at home rather than coming north looking for work. Demand to emigrate from India and China is already down because of this same trend. I don’t think we need to worry about the hordes swamping the US any more than they already are.

  101. Geoff B on November 21, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Another point: there has been no growth in illegal immigration in the last year, primarily because of economic factors (some of which I refer to in #100). In Colorado, where I live, the total number of immigrants has actually decreased, causing numerous economic problems (empty apartments, empty storefronts, less investment, etc). The hysteria over illegal immigration is really quite misplaced, in my humble opinion.

    http://immigration.procon.org/viewadditionalresource.asp?resourceID=1855

  102. John Mansfield on November 23, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Geoff B, if you’re only thinking about immigration from Latin America, then you’re thinking small. The bulk of Chinese still live in poverty much worse than that of Mexico and are prohibited from migrating internally to China’s booming metropolises.

    Mark B., I see Zion as a model that righteous nations can learn from just as “Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first partriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam” even though Pharaoh had no priesthood.

  103. Stephen M (Ethesis) on November 23, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Why can we restrict others from the benefits we enjoy as U.S. Citizens simply because of the accident of where they were born?

    Because the benefits all disappear if we don’t. Open borders would result in an interesting flood.

    Though the real issue is the right to vote. Assuming we allow the vote to everyone who enters, we have effectively given up our sovereignty. Does the rule of law really matter? Or should we have the drug cartel violence to the south of us in our own cities as well?

    Read Shantaram ( http://www.shantaram.com/ ) and ask yourself if you want that as our country as well.

    When we were asking the “huddled masses” to come here, coming to America was a sacrifice. Now that it is not, it seems things have changed all over.

    As someone who works with drug offenders in the Criminal Justice system – if I saw someone had a possession charge from 5 yrs ago, 10 yrs ago, 20 yrs ago or even longer, and no other criminal charges…I would be comfortable with giving that person the benefit of the doubt. Most of the people that I work with have multiple charges and can’t seem to stay out of legal trouble. So as an immigration issue, it appears that this man is a productive member of society and doesn’t pose the same risk that a lot of US-born citizens do. (And yes, of course there are misdemeanor drug charges…depends on the type and quantity. And I haven’t seen that they hand out felony drug charges like traffic tickets, only when people are committing felonious acts:)).

    Or representing them pro bono as I did in In Re Lock.

    What he doesn’t explain, though, is why the poor citizens of Mexico should be made to suffer for the sins of their leaders.

    Indeed, as someone noted, we are perpetuating that problem by the safety value we provide in the number of people we allow into the United States who would otherwise create pressure for change at home. I’ve been conflicted ever since that was pointed out to me.

    “not willing to support our values”? which values do you mean? and how do some immigrants show their unwillingness? Generally, in some parts of Texas, the rule of law is vastly different than in other parts. It is interesting to watch, and sobering, almost like being in a different state in some areas.

    I am sorely troubled. We had someone in a similar position in our ward. He would have qualified for amnesty, but the person who handled their paperwork out and out lied to them so that they lost the qualification (though the liar made several more thousand dollars out of them and a number of individuals). I wanted to have the liar excommunicated, but the dear brother feared that would stir up trouble for him. He eventually died, but being in the United States probably prolonged his life by twenty years.

    Our the people working at the dry cleaner on the corner. Both had graduate degrees in chemistry, they were in the United States because of religious persecution and violence back home. Arghh. They would have qualified for asylum, as would the Haitian judge’s wife I met working as a housekeeper, she fled to the states after being raped as a political act by those on the other side.

    I’m severely conflicted, as I meet individual after individual. If you listened to President Bush, on one of the few topics he has personal passion, about people just trying to care for their children and families…

    if you’re only thinking about immigration from Latin America, then you’re thinking small. The bulk of Chinese still live in poverty much worse than that of Mexico and are prohibited from migrating internally to China’s booming metropolises. but only about 600 million would move to the United States next year if the barriers were relaxed. Only about 200 million from Bangladesh. Only about 350 million from India. Open borders and only 1.1 billion new residents, all apparently allowed to vote from the position of some, very few speaking English or possessed of any skills, that is what open borders would generate.

    and in fact within 10-15 years Latin America’s population is likely to stabilize. This, along with economic growth and relative prosperity in the largest economies, will cause people to stay at home rather than coming north looking for work. yes, as long as there are barriers, immigration does not result in citizenship and benefits, and people can wait.

    But ask yourself what %tage of Haiti, right now, would immigrate if allowed?

  104. aloysiusmiller on November 23, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    What if we substituted “family” for “country” all you ‘let them flood in’ folks? Why can’t I live in your house or drive your car? What right do you have to your wealth. Somewhere along the way it was certainly stolen. Probably from the native Americans. Give it back right now!

  105. Roland on November 24, 2008 at 12:01 am

    California harbors about 25% of all US illegal immigrants. In some cases it creates a very big hard ship on certain local communities, hospitals and schools to provide them all with free services and they pay no taxes.

    I thought that since circa 1890 the church has had a policy to encourage all members worldwide to stay in their home countries and develop stakes of zion there instead of migrating to Utah. Furthermore thru the Perpetual Education Fund a lot of these members are getting a boost up in their education which is setting them up to be civic and business leaders there and to boost economic opportunities there and to set a standard for righteousness to help pull their communities out of poverty.

    Joseph Smith said – teach the people righteous principles and they can successfully govern themselves.

  106. Charlie C on November 29, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    “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.”

    Only to a certain degree. He will never be called GA or even Bishop, if the felony is known by HQ, and they usually do check. He is in good standing in the ward but with a few limitations.

    But out in public life he has even more limitations -can’t work in law enforcement, can’t vote if he were a citizen, can’t run for office etc. Other countries have a ‘forgiveness’ view since people can overcome some convictions eg Canada has ‘deemed rehabilitated’, Australia has the ‘Spent convictions scheme’ but the USA today has a zero tolerance for drug offenses so this person would not even be granted access to the US on a visitors visa.

    About your questions on immigration and the gospel – I can’t see anything in the gospel that’s related to immigration laws, only that ‘suggestion’ to stay in one’s native country by the first presidency mentioned above and repeated in another letter back in 1999 by Pt Hinckley, but that is only a recommendation and not any commandment or order.

    Immigration is similar to taxation and maybe traffic codes -all things that come under that “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and the God what belongs to God.”

    By the way I really don’t think that this HP will be successful since the judge will have to explain his (almost) pardoning of a drug offender during the rest of his career. So the odds are on the wife getting ready to live in her husbands country.

  107. Stephen M (Ethesis) on November 30, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    What if we substituted “family” for “country” all you ‘let them flood in’ folks? Why can’t I live in your house or drive your car? What right do you have to your wealth?

    After all, are not all alike unto God?

    No, that happens to be the essence of the issue and the argument, on both sides. When it was expensive, dangerous and an embracement of poverty in return for freedom and opportunity, with no safety net, America was open to those who wanted to come here on those terms. Now, for the most part, people could care less about the freedom and come here to escape the danger and lack of safety net they have at home.

    Each case I meet, I feel like George Bush, who admires illegal immigrants for the risks and sacrifices they make to come to the U.S. to seek a better life for themselves and their families. But as a group … kind of the reverse of “I love mankind, it is people I can’t stand” it becomes “I feel compassion for people, it is mankind I worry about.”

    It is a complex issue, and one that is not going to go away.

  108. Julian on January 7, 2009 at 12:07 am

    DBCINckrfuvHR

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