I have to change a major opinion.
A couple of weeks ago, an announcement appeared on the Newsroom of the Church web site, saying that the Church “regards the declaration of the Utah Compact as a responsible approach to the urgent challenge of immigration reform.” The declaration refered to affirms, among other things, that families should be kept together and that social services should exist for the benefit of “all” children.
Like many other conservatives, I have said that the most logical, legal solution to the crime, friction, and costs caused by illegal immigration would be the deportation of all illegal aliens. That position, in light of the above statements, no longer seems tenable to me. The call for keeping families together and sponsoring universal social services can only be reasonably interpreted to mean some kind of amnesty, like the kind promoted by President Bush, and things like the DREAM Act, promoted by President Obama and members of Congress.
Surely there’s still room for some disagreement on the subject, but we must agree that the general issue of whether or not illegal aliens should be deported en masse is now settled, as far as Latter-day Saints are concerned. Why aren’t the specifics of a policy more clearly articulated by the Church? Probably because there isn’t one certain ballot item being voted on, or legislation being proposed, as there has been with issues in the past. Or, because the existing statements are clear enough for those who aren’t looking to twist them to agree with what they already thought.
When I read those news items and related pieces in the media, I made the mistake of reading comments left by other readers. Many rationalized the statements as saying that, for example, if the Church wants to keep families together, then every illegal should be deported. That may or may not actually achieve that goal, but it’s certainly outside the spirit of the Church’s statements.
Such an interpretation can only be meant to justify one’s preconceived convictions, and would make the Church’s statement meaningless: if it isn’t meant to oppose deportation, then what could it possibly say that’s substantial? It surely isn’t just a diplomatic truffle to appease everybody; in its rare forays into the political realm, the Church sure doesn’t do that.
I am glad, though, that the Utah Compact, as well as the Church’s statement supporting it, talks about border enforcement, assimilation, and the rule of law. Perhaps my biggest irk in this discussion is the refusal of many of those on the left to believe that opposition to illegal immigration is based on anything other than racism, and that the existence of problems like increased crime that we try to point out is routinely denied. I hope that those who have favored things like amnesty will start treating their conservative friends with a little more dignity.
Speaking of those comments left by online readers again, though, it’s scary how many come from conservatives calling out the Church for this position. I was discouraged by how much discord was obviously caused among Mormons who lean to the left because of the Church’s position on gay marriage. I worry now that in the coming years there will be conservatives who will allow their faith and activity to suffer over illegal immigration. I’ll affirm again that, regardless of my political principles, I’ll adhere to the teachings of my church first.