|If it did come out as doctrine it may be one of those situations where my personal political beliefs may conflict with the Church's stance, a situation that has not yet occurred in my life|
Not only that but to have a Seventy say that they consider illegal immigration a civil trespass and that there is nothing wrong with that status, is a bit disturbing. The reply of the Church spokesman shows clearly the stand of the Church on this issue.
It is also a bit disturbing that some Area Seventies clearly stated they have no problem in giving a Temple Recommend to an illegal immigrant.
I really hope that the reason the Church is saying this is NOT to retain the huge amount of LDS hispanics in Utah who are very active in the Church and who if they send home, may go less active.
Church's Illegal-migrant Growth
Latinos overwhelmingly are raised Catholic, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is aggressively reaching out to them by touting the religion's heavy focus on family and community, pillars of the Mormon faith that are also at the center of Hispanic culture. Ref. Source 7
As much as I hate to say this, the Church is not willing to lose the huge, I repeat huge Latino community over this issue. I understand the need to preach the Gospel to every creature but at the same time, make illegal immigrants Bishops, etc with temple recommends and all, I think clearly sends a double message: Honesty isn't a very big issue.
An undocumented young man who was returning from his mission was arrested for "lacking necessary documentation to board his flight home". The Church put its lawyers to work in the case and all. It created some sort of panic within the Illegal Immigrants in the US and prompted another missionary to get a relative to drive from Utah to Oklahoma to pick him up in order to avoid being arrested. If you did not know, illegal immigrants in the US only serve within the USA. The Church makes that accommodation. A very interesting article where Elder Holland explains and shares his thoughts.
| The arrest of an undocumented immigrant returning last week from his LDS mission has sparked discussion at the highest levels of the church about how to limit such exposure in the future.|
"With the known realization that those risks exist, then we want to do better, or at least learn more," LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, said Friday during an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune ."We want to be more precise, if we can, about how to help, how to make [a mission] the calmest, most spiritually rewarding experience for everybody."
Early last week, a missionary was detained at the Cincinnati airport for "lacking necessary documentation to board his flight home," according to Michael Purdy, LDS Church spokesman.
That triggered fears in the undocumented LDS community in Utah, and already prompted a change in how one Utah missionary returned home. The young man, a Salt Lake Valley resident, completed a mission in Oklahoma and was scheduled to return home two days after church leaders heard of the unrelated arrest in Ohio. The mission president contacted local Utah church leaders, and it was decided the missionary's uncle would drive out to Oklahoma to bring the missionary home, which he did.
"The travel department of the church has to rethink everything. Things have changed, and they need a whole new policy," said a local church official who was aware of the situation. "With ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] hitting them at the bus terminals and airports, this opens a whole new discussion. I don't know how many undocumented immigrants we have serving missions, but I'm sure this is going to repeat itself."
LDS Church leaders have had evolving policies on how to keep undocumented missionaries safe. But this is the first time Holland has heard of a missionary being arrested by immigration officials while serving.
"There's been an ongoing discussion of this for 15 years. These kind of incidents, or anything like it, would continue that discussion," said Holland, who is a member of the Missionary Executive Council. "We're always trying to do, always and forever, exactly what's legal, and in the spirit of that, be fair to everyone on the religious side, on the spiritual side, to have the spiritual benefits of [serving a mission]."
The reason, according to Holland, is simple.
"A mission is so fundamental to our blessings."
The LDS Church has changed its policies about mission calls for undocumented immigrants over time. Previously, they had to return to their country of origin for extended periods of time and then could serve. However, U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, inserted language into a 2005 agricultural bill that absolves religious organizations of criminal liability for allowing their undocumented members to perform volunteer service, including mission work.
Church leaders do make certain accommodations for undocumented missionaries, including calling them only to missions within the United States. But leaders acknowledge the missionaries' potential legal jeopardy.
"They go knowing themselves that they're at risk, and nothing in our mission call changes that," Holland said. "They know that, and we know that, and we work within those parameters to have them be constructive, honorable, faithful, spiritual, religious emissaries for that period of service...
|QUOTE (From above)|
|Church leaders do make certain accommodations for undocumented missionaries, including calling them only to missions within the United States. But leaders acknowledge the missionaries' potential legal jeopardy.|
|QUOTE (JB @ 25-Apr 09, 10:05 PM)|
|Doesn't knowing a person is illegal and then try to accommodate them because they are illegal - isn't that against the federal law of the US regardless of what the State law says?|
A returned missionary from Texas created an organization called Missionaries for Compassion Toward Immigrants, read the following extracts of their thoughts as well as the counterpart by Ron Mortensen, of the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration. The most important parts are in bold.
| Provo Â» When Victor Rodriguez was in elementary school, teachers pulled him out of class to test his English proficiency every year, even though he was born in Provo and spoke English without a trace of accent.|
It was one of the ways the son of Guatemalan immigrants was made to feel separate from his white peers.
After he graduated from high school, Rodriguez served a Mormon mission in Nicaragua, where he was continually impressed by the kindness and welcoming treatment he received from complete strangers. So, it seemed all the more jarring when he returned home to a growing anti-immigrant sentiment.
Now 25, Rodriguez is part of a newly formed group of returned LDS missionaries dedicated to reminding fellow Mormons how their sons, daughters or siblings were welcomed, fed and sheltered during their religious stints in Latin America or in stateside immigrant communities.
Missionaries for Compassion Toward Immigrants was founded by Aaron Petterborg, a 26-year-old Brigham Young University student living in Provo. The Texas native, who is white, served an LDS mission in Salt Lake City, preaching largely to undocumented immigrants, and was disturbed by many Utahns' treatment of that community.
The group has 188 members on Facebook and a core of about 40 members who actively participate in gatherings. They volunteer for service projects and also engage fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in dialogue about immigration and immigrants.
"We hold antagonism toward immigrants in general and adherence to Gospel principles to be intrinsically conflicted," the group's charter states. Missionaries for Compassion has drafted a petition asking people to support the rights of all community members, regardless of their legal status.
Petterborg plans to have the group work with state legislators in upcoming sessions to change or repeal SB81, Utah's immigration law set to take effect July 1.
But more important to Petterborg than persuading politicians is changing the mindset of Utah residents.
"Even more powerful than a political change is the change that happens with our communities," he said. "What people think is much more important than what a law says."
Petterborg points to scriptural references that he says teach compassion toward all of God's children. One example is the Book of Mormon story of King Benjamin in Mosiah Chapter 4, where the king admonishes his subjects not to turn away anyone in need of help, and not to blame them for their situation. The lesson culminates in the thought: "Are we not all beggars?"
The group references the church's belief that all souls need "saving ordinances" - sacred rites including baptism and temple ceremonies - to get into heaven and that immigrants willing "to deal with their documentation status" should be allowed such ordinances even though they have broken immigration law.
But Ron Mortensen, of the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration, calls the group's stance hypocritical. A returned LDS missionary himself, he stresses the religion's Twelfth Article of Faith, which mandates all Mormons follow the rule of law.
"You can be baptized if you're an illegal alien using stolen documents and someone else's identity and committing perjury on an I-9 form, but they couldn't be baptized for drinking a cup of tea," he said.
"It just seems [Missionaries for Compassion] really are working out of pure compassion and totally out of emotion," Mortensen said. "If they are so concerned about these individuals, are they willing to give them their names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth so they can limit the damage they are doing to other people in order to get jobs?"