A Conservative Case for Amnesty

Today, everybody’s talking about the Supreme Court’s universal health care ruling.  However, here are some thoughts I’ve been putting together since their ruling on Arizona’s controversial illegal immigration law a few days ago:

Regardless of whatever details or variations are appended to either, the fact is that the only two options here for ending the debate over illegal immigration are amnesty or deportation.  When the dust finally settles, either the millions of Hispanics in this country illegally will generally stay here, or they will generally leave.

In that light, the choice should be obvious.  Amnesty may well have some advantages that conservatives have overlooked, and deportation is simply untenable.

Mass deportation is a Utopian fantasy.  The first rule of conservatism is to approach reality as it is, not as we wish it would be.

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A Homily on Helaman: Choosing Faithfulness in a Changing Church Culture

In a 1990 address to Regional Representatives, Elder Boyd K. Packer said:

In recent years I have felt, and I think I am not alone, that we were losing the ability to correct the course of the Church. You cannot appreciate how deeply I feel about the importance of this present opportunity unless you know the regard, the reverence, I have for the Book of Mormon and how seriously I have taken the warnings of the prophets, particularly Alma and Helaman.

Both Alma and Helaman told of the church in their day. They warned about fast growth, the desire to be accepted by the world, to be popular, and particularly they warned about prosperity. Each time those conditions existed in combination, the Church drifted off course. All of those conditions are present in the Church today.

Helaman repeatedly warned, I think four times he used these words, that the fatal drift of the church could occur “in the space of not many years.” In one instance it took only six years. (See Helaman 6:32, 7:6, 11:26)

It’s especially interesting that he mentions the book of Helaman as being a prophetic parallel for our day, in addition to Alma.  The superscription to Helaman–the introductory summary between the title and chapter one of the text–is part of the scriptural record, not an editorial study aid by modern church printers, like the individual chapter headings are.  One of the items in that ancient superscription is this:

An account of the righteousness of the Lamanites, and the wickedness and abominations of the Nephites.

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Politically Unprepared Mormon Virgins

The LDS Church has made another statement about illegal immigration, emphasizing their disapproval of “mass expulsion,” among other things.  I saw a news story yesterday about it and how, apparently, Church headquarters is being inundated by calls from conservative church members who are outraged by what they see as a betrayal of their principles. 

I won’t rehash what I’ve said about this before, but here’s a scripture-based illustration of my point:

In my neck of the woods, our Sunday School lesson next week will be about Jesus’s parable of the ten virgins.  In this story, ten women were going to meet their bridegroom.  Five had prepared, and five hadn’t.  When the surprise announcement was made that the hour for the wedding was at hand, the prepared five got to go in, but the other five were left with no groom but regret. 

The interpretation of this parable for Latter-day Saints has always been pretty standard: it’s meant to teach us about preparing for the Second Coming.  Since all ten women had clearly accepted the invitation to go to the wedding, they all represent members of the Lord’s church.  The sobering warning in the parable is that only about half of us–even half of those who are at least nominally on board with the Church–might be ready for the rewards we want when the final day comes. 

There are plenty of reasons why those five virgins (and many more Latter-day Saints) might be slack in their preparation for the Lord’s return, but in light of the blowback over the Church’s recent political stances, I wonder if some of those virgins might represent good people who let their faith be compromised by being offended by the Church’s positions on gay marriage and illegal immigration.

It’s Time For Politically Conservative Mormons To Follow Their Church On Illegal Immigration

I’ve written about this once in each of the last three years (here, here, and here), and as the Church’s position keeps getting clearer, the reactions of many of my fellow political conservatives keeps getting more hostile.  A posting on the Church’s official web site last week makes it clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors some kind of amnesty–including guest worker programs, at the very least–for illegal aliens. 

Conservatives in general may blanche at this, and they’re welcome to–their suspicions about the Church’s motives in this don’t hold water, anyway.  (Pandering to Hispanic populations?  If the Church wanted to pander to politically sensitive groups, we wouldn’t have recently offended everyone who supports gay marriage.  Between that issue and this one, now we’ve alienated everybody!)

But for those of us who accept the divinity of the LDS Church’s claims and the authority of its leadership, there should be no argument.  In too many comments on other blogs and quotes in other news articles, conservatives are bristling about this to the point of rebellion.  Continue reading

The LDS Church and Illegal Immigration

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.  Continue reading

New Harry Reid Ad

In response to a Sharron Angle ad targeting his soft stance on illegal aliens, Harry Reid has launched a big new ad meant to reassure everyone in the suburbs that he’s a staunch foe of all things immigration. 

Hey, Harry, you’re not supposed to throw your supporters under the bus until after the election. 

If I were Angle, I’d be running clips of Reid’s ad on all the local Spanish-language media 24/7 from now until election day. 

Why Don’t Illegal Alien Sympathizers Love Mexico?

A few weeks ago I was hiking at Mt. Charleston and saw a group of about a dozen Hispanic men clearing fallen trees from the side of the road and feeding them into wood chippers.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many of them, if any, were in the country illegally.  After all, we’re in a deep recession and Las Vegas is the hardest hit city in the country: I know tons of American citizens who would love to have a BLM job these days.  Why should an illegal alien get to have a job here while an American remains unemployed?

Thinking about this reminded me of the arguments one tends to hear in favor of allowing illegal aliens to continue pouring into our country: they work, they pay a lot of taxes, they don’t commit more crimes, they have good family values, etc.  But as I remembered these arguments, I was struck by a new thought: if all of these things are true, shouldn’t they be back in Mexico helping to make it a better place?  Shouldn’t all of the liberals who claim to love everybody and every culture equally, with all of that empathy in their ideology, be more concerned with helping improve Mexico than with the supposed benefits of illegal labor for America?

After all, Mexico is in a bad way economically.  This is hardly news, but is supporting the permanent exodus of millions of young, vital, innovative people, in the long run, going to help or hurt Mexico?  And doesn’t Mexico need help even more than the U.S.?  Where’s the compassion for Mexico?

One might counter that illegals in the U.S. send billions of dollars back to Mexico every year, which is true, but that is a short-sighted, paternalistic, even (dare I say it?) colonial outlook.  A very large portion of Mexico’s economy is now dependent on the largesse of illegal labor in the United States.  (Why do you think Mexico’s president is so aggressive about illegals being able to stay in America?  Civil rights?  Please.)  In fact, the current American recession has also hurt Mexico financially.  Our continued patronizing (in both senses of the word) of illegal aliens has increasingly turned Mexico into a dependent little ward of our parent-like economy.  Supporting illegal alien labor in the U.S. is closely akin to supporting an onoing indentured servitude that will, ultimately, come at the expense of any possible future success for Mexico. 

If liberals really believe that these millions of illegals are such excellent people, then why are we keeping them for ourselves instead of sending them back to a home country that so desperately needs their help?  Don’t liberals want Mexico to be independent, to be better off in the future than they are now? 

Or do they want Mexico to turn into an even more feeble ghost town while we continue to have our lawns mowed at discount rates? 

Though this post has already gotten a little cheeky, I think the point is valid, and I have to admit that my more sardonic side is now inclined to counter the next statements I hear supporting illegal immigration with, “Why don’t you want them to help build up Mexico instead?  Don’t you care about Mexico?  Why not?  It’s because they’re different from you, isn’t it?  Why is there so much hate in your heart?”  As they say, turnabout is fair play.

The Brown Herring

I haven’t yet commented on the kerfuffle over Arizona’s illegal alien law because it was so fractious that I wanted to let the dust settle, and I wanted to collect my thoughts before writing.  Sadly, the first isn’t even close to happening yet, so neither is the second.  But especially since so many in my own community–Latter-day Saints–are voicing opposition to this online, I need to contribute.

Almost all of the argument against the Arizona law amounts to one paltry thing: they’re racist!  They’re doing it because they hate Hispanics

Haven’t we lived with political correctness long enough to see it for the desperate, transparent attempt to stifle freedom and restrict discussion that it is?  Individual racists still exist, but are few and far between, and certainly any broad social consensus on a policy issue such as this is based on the honest good intentions of the citizenry, not some sudden massive throwback to the Jim Crow era. 

I’m happy to debate the pros and cons of this law, but people who base their position on the idea that those who disagree–regardless of what they say, no matter what other information they bring to the table–are really doing it because their black evil hearts are just filled with hate, are indulging in the worst possible vices of civic discourse: lying, stereotyping, refusing to listen to others with the benefit of the doubt.  They’re changing the subject, sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting, “La la la!  I can’t hear you and I don’t have to because you’re just a dumb meanie!  La la la!”  No constructive conversation can come from such an intellectual disconnect. 

I encourage anyone who supports Arizona to engage in discussions with those who disagree with us, but to present this understanding to them up front: if you’re going to insult millions of people and boil our principles down to ugly slurs, this conversation is over and I will walk away. 

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A Pair of Pessimistic Political Predictions

I’m not saying that these things will happen, but the way our society is going, I think it’s likely that they might happen. 

1.  Any straight people who get married will be seen as inherently oppressing gays who can’t marry.  This came to mind as I heard recently about a growing slew of celebrities who refuse to get married, saying they won’t do it until everybody can do it.  The logical end of that train of thought will be stigmatizing anybody who doesn’t get in on this “boycot.”  Cohabitation will explode even further as marriage rates drop drastically.

2.  The concept of nationality will come to be looked down on as narrow-minded, old fashioned, and akin to racism.  Under the guise of embracing all of humanity and “celebrating diversity,” many will decry those who assert that being an American–or any other nationality–has some intrinsic meaning.  Valuing your country over other countries will be the new “racism,” as the more “enlightened” among us will disavow their allegiance to any one nation and declare themselves “citizens of the world.” 

I know, I know–the seeds of both of these are already well sown into our society.  My fear is that they will become far more prevalent, that within a decade they will be the mandatory mantras of the mainstream, the same way that gay marriage, amnesty, and socialism suddenly became orthodox doctrines during the last ten years.

Star Nursery Locks Out Day Laborers

I pass a Star Nursery going to and from work each day, and I noticed on Wednesday that they had put up a chain link fence around their property, along with a few banners that read, “Star Nursery supports our community, we say ‘No’ to day laborers.”
 
This is probably a good thing.  I don’t know if they had received complaints from customers, or if the day laborers were bothering people, but I do know that no place looks good with a bunch of guys sitting around on the sidewalk all day.  I drive home around the middle of the afternoon, and there are still always about a dozen guys straggling behind there, and I have to wonder why.  Do they still get picked up for any work that late in the day?  
 
One of the major signs to me that Las Vegas was devolving into urban squalor was earlier this decade when I started noticing these groups of men loitering around Star Nursery and Home Depot each morning.  Now, there have always been day laborers in Las Vegas, but when I was a kid, they all congregated on an unofficial strip of Bonanza Road, in an industrial part of town.  Everybody knew that if you wanted cheap temporary labor, you went there.  But in the last several years, the “market” for day laborers clearly spread out into dozens of satellites around town.  
 
Actually, though, I have to wonder if the nursery’s stand is too little, too late.   Continue reading

The LDS Immigration Kerfuffle

The widely reported story of an illegal immigrant LDS missionary being detained has caused quite a ruckus among Mormons (though some coverage is probably sensationalistic hyperbole).  What’s not exaggerated, however, is how polarizing this one event seems to be.  It’s drawing stark differences out of the woodwork: apparently, either you’re seeing this as an opportunity to justify an open-borders agenda, or you’re a jingoistic bigot who wonders why the Church is going astray. 

In a post on the subject last week, I left a comment that summarized my stand:

My conservative political principles dictate that I should be anti-illegal immigration, and I basically am–it has numerous negative consequences, and the twelfth Article of Faith has something to say about the rule of law.

That being said, if I’m going to expect my faithful, liberal friends to reject the socially immoral aspects that are attached to the left as they pursue their vision for how government should work, I certainly also need to be willing to modify my hardline stances when the Church is going in a different direction. As linked above, that seems to be the case here. So, since loyalty to the Church is a higher priority than political positions, I’m open to ideas for immigration reform.

Besides, as I showed on my own blog recently, the mass infusion of good Hispanic people into the United States may well be in fulfillment of Book of Mormon prophecy. If so, it would seem to be a good trend to get behind.

In another thread, though, one commenter actually called out the First Presidency for apostasy:

They have done so, in an underhanded and deceptive way no less. They have, AFTER THE FACT, had Sen Bennett change the law AFTER they got caught in Elberta hiring illegal aliens. Even the supervisor was an illegal! They have gone to state legislators with requests to kill bills regarding illegal immigration – while at the same time publicly, loudly, proclaiming that they don’t get involved in politics.

What concerns me most of all is that we are being asked to sustain these leaders when we KNOW they are in need of serious repentance in their own lives. Why we continue to do so is what baffles me.

That’s just ridiculous.  Continue reading

On America’s Future

As we scrutinize political trends, demographics, and cultural indicators, two prophecies from the Book of Mormon should give us all something to seriously mull over as we ponder America’s future.  Consider:

3 Nephi 16: 7–“in the latter days shall the truth come unto the Gentiles.”  Indeed, the gospel was restored in America in the early 19th century, primarily among Caucasian people (Gentiles).

verse 8–“they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel…”  That same population that received the gospel also oppressed some of God’s chosen people.

verse 9–“after all this…”

verse 10–“At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel…I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.”  (emphasis added)  This single verse should scare the heck out of every Anglo American, especially among the Latter-day Saints.  The prediction there is pretty clear: when our society becomes pervasively unrighteous, rejecting our Christian heritage, God will take that gift of gospel truth away from us. 

It’s not giving away any big secret to share that convert baptisms into the LDS church in the United States have been fairly stagnant over the last decade.  The explosive rate of growth in the second half of the 20th century has largely leveled off. 

So, if the gospel is going to be taken away from us white Gentiles, to whom will it go?

verses 11-12–“And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them.  And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.”  (emphasis added)  Here, Jesus Christ plainly foretells that after the initial phase of the Restoration has been accomplished by the Gentiles, they will reject it, and the gospel will then be embraced by the descendants of the native people of the Western Hemisphere to whom Christ was speaking. 

Just as conversions are dying out among white Americans, the LDS church is growing explosively abroad–there are now more Mormons outside the United States than within.  Christianity in general is experiencing a staggering injection of growth among the poor, “global south.” 

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Fireworks On Christmas Eve?!

As usual, my wife and I stayed up late on Christmas Eve getting everything ready for the kids in the morning. By the time we got to bed, it was a little after midnight.

Almost as soon as we closed our eyes, loud noises outside made our 3-year-old son wake up crying. When I went to investigate, I saw people down the street whispering in Spanish and setting off huge, obnoxious fireworks.

I told them to stop, that people were trying to sleep. One woman protested, “But it’s Christmas Eve!” I said that what they were doing was illegal. They said they would stop.

Soon after, another barrage of fireworks detonated. No more went off after that, either because the neighbors came to their senses, or because by that point I had called the police.

The next day, I looked up “Christmas, fireworks, and midnight” online. Turns out it’s a fairly common practice…in Latin America.

So much for “Silent Night.”

Loyalty Despite Perceived Conflict: Avoiding Cognitive Dissonance

Utah newspapers have been reporting that the LDS Church is subtly campaigning for a “more compassionate” stance towards illegal immigrants (for example, http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695253342,00.html).  Now, this could present a problem for me as I am strongly opposed to illegal immigration.  My understanding of the legal, social, and economic issues involved convinces me that it is a harmful trend. 

If I perceive that the Church is doing something that contradicts my own opinions, I could suffer cognitive dissonance: the mental stress caused by diametrically opposed ideas coexisting in a mind.  What should I do?  Easy.  If there’s a conflict between the Church and my political principles, the Church wins.  I’m wrong and I need to change.

Why are my researched and reasoned views of this issue automatically moot?  Go back to the basics of belief: the Church is true.  The Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, and that means the Church is directed by living prophets today.  And if those prophets say to embrace illegals, then I’ll drive down to the border and pick up a few myself.

The word of the Church is the word of the Lord: “whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). 

Besides, I admit I’ve privately wondered how some good liberal Church members must deal with having some of their political positions refuted by doctrine.  If it’s time for this conservative to eat crow in order to keep his priorities straight, so be it.

Rejecting a Church that we know to be true, because of any personal issue: that’s the real cognitive dissonance.