Wednesday, July 7, 2010

LDS Church Reiterates Its Position Of Neutrality On American Immigration Legislation

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints increasingly take publicly partisan and opposing positions on illegal immigration in the United States, they've begun applying pressure to the LDS Church to officially follow suit. The latest outburst took place on July 7th, 2010, when a group called the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration took Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to task for failing in his official duties by refusing to enforce existing immigration laws (read their complete press release HERE). The Coalition is opposed to Shurtleff's idea of a guest worker program, and would like to see him support Arizona's SB1070 immigration enforcement law. Shurtleff has been quoted as saying he would like to see the LDS Church come out against the Arizona law. Both Shurtleff and the lead spokesperson for the Coalition, Cherilyn Eagar, are observant members of the LDS Church.

But according to Shurtleff's office, the Coalition is failing to recognize that while crimes committed by illegal immigrants fall in the state's jurisdiction, enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government. A spokesman for the attorney general's office said in a statement: "Utah is making a significant difference targeting illegal aliens violating state laws and we must continue to insist that the federal government to do its job of securing the border." You can read the complete statement HERE.

The LDS Church decided to officially respond to the Coalition's statement. Their latest statement was first posted on the LDS Newsroom page:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes the complexities facing elected officials as they grapple with the implications of immigration law, such as employment, security and budgetary considerations. The Church has not taken a position on this issue, which is clearly the province of government. However, Church leaders have urged compassion and careful reflection when addressing immigration issues affecting millions of people.

Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and do not represent the position of the Church regarding immigration legislation. The Church recognizes that these officials make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.

Other prominent LDS members represented in the debate over illegal immigration include Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, who authored SB1070, and Hispanic activist Tony Yapias, the director of Projecto Latino de Utah, who wants the Church to promote more "compassion". Yapias has a son currently serving a full-time mission.

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