Mormons and Immigration

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The twelfth article of faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states,

“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

There are those who feel that illegal immigrants to the United States of America should be able to break those laws which they deem unfair. [1] The statement of the leadership of the LDS Church on this issue follows:

"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."

Felonies can be committed by illegal aliens as they try to gain employment in the United States, which may include: 1) fraudulenty gaining a U.S. Social Security number; 2) falsifying I-9 forms under penalty of perjury; 3) identity fraud under state law when the Social Security numbers they are using belong to another person. People whose social security numbers are stolen could have their credit destroyed, could be saddled with arrest records, denied public benefits and may even have their medical records corrupted with life threatening consequences.

However, deporting illegal immigrants separates families, and denying U.S. federal aid to illegals may deny them of basic human rights.

Updates

In February, 2011, a few Latinos living in the United States sent a letter to the government of Mexico suggesting that Mormon missionaries from the U.S. should have their visas revoked, because of the Mormon Church's non-involvement in U.S. immigration issues:

"...Lopez-Vargas contends the Mormon Church should be taking a public stand against immigration-reform measures that have the backing of Utah's representatives in Washington.
"'Most of the representatives belong to that church and most of the bills that are introduced in the Capitol go against human rights,' said Lopez-Vargas. 'We think the church has a responsibility to speak out against it publicly.'
"The church had no formal comment on Lopez-Vargas' proposal; however Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Utah, one of the congressmen pushing legislation beefing up immigration enforcement, told the newspaper that denying visas to missionaries was akin to blackmailing the church. . .." [2]

In March of 2011 the Utah State Legislature passed a series of immigration reform bills with the influence of Mormon advisers. The bills include a guest-worker program. The bills are decidedly politically neutral, overstep federal mandates, and provide compassion along with needed legalities and protections. To read more about the bills, click here.

In June 2011, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following formal statement:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today issued the following official statement on immigration:
Around the world, debate on the immigration question has become intense. That is especially so in the United States. Most Americans agree that the federal government of the United States should secure its borders and sharply reduce or eliminate the flow of undocumented immigrants. Unchecked and unregulated, such a flow may destabilize society and ultimately become unsustainable.
As a matter of policy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discourages its members from entering any country without legal documentation, and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.
What to do with the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now residing in various states within the United States is the biggest challenge in the immigration debate. The bedrock moral issue for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is how we treat each other as children of God.
The history of mass expulsion or mistreatment of individuals or families is cause for concern especially where race, culture, or religion are involved. This should

give pause to any policy that contemplates targeting any one group, particularly if that group comes mostly from one heritage.

As those on all sides of the immigration debate in the United States have noted, this issue is one that must ultimately be resolved by the federal government.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God.
The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship.
In furtherance of needed immigration reform in the United States, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports a balanced and civil approach to a challenging problem, fully consistent with its tradition of compassion, its reverence for family, and its commitment to law.
Responsibility of Church Members: Avoiding Being Judgmental
The First Presidency has for many years taught that undocumented status should not by itself prevent an otherwise worthy Church member from entering the temple or being ordained to the priesthood.
Bishops are in the best position to make appropriate judgments as to Church privileges. Meanwhile, Church members should avoid making judgments about fellow members in their congregations.