“Vim in the UK” wrote last week, asking how Latter-day Saints should treat illegal immigrants. I’m sure she was asking how we should handle the issue of illegal immigration; Vim would never suggest that we treat any human being with unkindness.

We haven’t received a lot of answers to her question, but there are enough to give us some interesting views this week. Here they are:

I have given a lot of thought to the question of illegal immigrants. I think what we need to focus on most is the term “illegal.” Although I realize the process is a slow one, there are ways of entering a country legally.

I am myself an immigrant to this country, but I came here legally and am now a citizen. Some of those who choose to come illegally pay big money to people who smuggle them over the border. Wouldn’t it be easier to just fill out the paperwork and come here the right way?

I know there are LDS people who are here in the United States illegally, yet they obtain temple recommends. How do they answer the question that asks if they are honest in their dealings with others? Do their bishops just overlook that question? To obtain jobs, these people must use stolen Social Security numbers. Is that honest?

I do think that children who were brought here by their parents illegally should be given the opportunity to become citizens. After all, it is not their fault. But adults who came illegally should have to pay for their crimes, no matter what religion they are. What part of the word “illegal” do they not understand?

Perhaps the government needs to rethink its requirements for immigration, but until they do, those requirements must be obeyed. Those who do not obey them are breaking the law – and it’s a lot more serious than just a traffic violation.

Sharee

Thanks for writing in, Sharee. It gives even more weight to your answer to know that you are an immigrant yourself. I appreciate your response.

An interesting and deserving topic.

In my ward there are at least 20 members who served non-English speaking missions. To the person, they will tell me of the love they have for those peopleand their gratitude at having known themthat their lives are infinitely better for the experience amongst them.

As a Ware Mission Leader I’ve experienced full-time Elders from Mongolia, France, Guatemala, Mexico, England. From any gospel standard we, more than any other people should not only welcome but celebrate other cultures and people.

Yet, many of use proclaim an abhorrence to allowing “them”, the immigrant (legal or not) into our midst. I must admit that I don’t understand.

I get that there are legal/political issuesbut in my mind, the encompassing power of God’s love and his commandments that we lift all souls, needs to be a paramount part of the dialogue.

My family and I are blessed to be born in a land of great abundance through no virtue of our own (we can debate premortal valiance some other time) and I believe that my eternal pathway will be shaped by how I share the wonderful spiritual and temporal blessings that I enjoy. I pray that as I am judged hereafter, that I will be found sharing too much, loving too much, embracing other peoples and cultures too much, rather than leaning on the law to justify selfishness to protect what God has granted me through no virtue of my own.

My soul tells me that the more I share what God has granted to me the greater his willingness to return to me many-fold both temporally and spiritually. For as I Love his children my brotherseven those whose life differs from mine, I am and will be blessed.

If I, as a son of Ephraim, aim to be a savior to others, I cannot withhold either my heart or my wallet. Will “they” cost me in social services? Maybe, even probably. Will their influence bring a different culture and life-ways that are different from and may even challenge mine? Maybe, even probably.

But it isn’t about them; it’s about me and my love of God. I hope He finds me encouraging all to come unto Zion and be perfectedthat I may be found a more dedicated disciple. God tells me that all the Father has will be mineHe gives all that He has and He has not any less. Might the same principle apply to me? I think so.

I leave the politics to others, but this is where I stand.

Bob

Thanks for your input, Bob. You’re certainly right that we who have been born in countries of abundance did so through no virtue of our own. We should always be grateful for the gifts we have been given, and realize that not everyone has been so richly blessed.

I actually had to wrestle this one a few years ago when I tutored English language learnersmost from Mexico, most probably here illegally. I was a volunteer. I am strictly a rule follower. I do not like lawbreakers. They contribute to chaos. Nevertheless, the people I worked with seemed so good and kind.

And I remembered a scripture that applied. 2 Nephi 6:7 “…that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.” Did Nephi or the Lord mean groups of people, or individuals? I don’t know. I puzzled over this quite a bit.

I finally decided, “Their sins are not my concern.” That is my policy for transgressions of all my fellowman. Their sins are not my concern. If I was the bishop, or a sheriff, or Border Patrol agent, their sins might be my concern, but as long as I am just me, their sins are not my concern.

I don’t know what by what means people get to where they are. And maybe if I lived in a border state, I might have stronger feelings. I definitely believe that the federal government must secure the borders. But for me, I’m busy enough with my own stewardship.

Bottom line, you can always turn to King Benjamin for direction on how to treat our fellowman.


  Mosiah 4:16-20 “… perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, … for his punishments are just… Whosoever doeth this hath great cause to repent…. For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God…”

We can look forward to the day when we are as the Nephites when it was said of them “…surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God. There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.” Maybe in our hearts, we can be there now.

I look forward to reading the input of other readers. I’m sure it will be instructive. Your column always has such an interesting variety of perspectives.

Leah

Puyallup, Washington

I have often wondered about 2 Nephi 6:7 myself, Leah. It makes me try doubly hard not to judge people who have come to the United States illegally.

Of course, I don’t know if this is any help to Vim in the UK!

Your question is about the church and immigration and illegal immigrants.

 

I was a missionary in South Texas in the early 1980’s. I learned that some of our investigators were illegal aliens. Their being in the United States was against the law and they actually bragged about how they had sneaked across the river (and went back and forth on a regular basis, bringing additional family members with them).

 

I spoke with my mission president about this. I told him that I didn’t feel right teaching a family when they were breaking the law. I pointed out that they really couldn’t pass a baptismal interview as they could not say that everything was right in their lives.

 

He said that I was thinking of the temple recommend and that obeying the law of the land had nothing to do with the baptismal interview.

 

He then said that what I should do was follow any inspiration I received. My companion and I followed the Spirit and our consciences and we quit teaching the family. As it is a sin to break the law of the land, we might have baptized people in a state of sin.

 

I am bothered by the fact that, out of political correctness, we can no longer call these people illegal aliens (as that makes it sound like a criminal act). Instead, they are undocumented residents or undocumented workers. Forget political correctness; they are performing an illegal act with their presence and are criminals.

 

I live near the Mexican border in Southern New Mexico. In this area, it is required to provide free education to the illegal alien children. The school districts and their employees are not permitted to report these families to the Border Patrol/I.N.S. for deportation (imagine thatmaking it illegal to report a crime!).

 

When I go to register my children for a new school (after a move), I have to provide my I.D., their birth certificate, their social security card, their shot records, their report card from the previous year, the name and phone number of the school they come from, and something proving my residence in the school district (a utility bill, a lease, and so on). My child cannot even go to a classroom until I have provided all of this information.

 

If an illegal alien comes in and cannot provide any of these papers, their kids are still enrolled and assigned to a class. Then, if the school doesn’t have the right staffing, the district has to provide bilingual educators to be able to teach these children in Spanish! (Note that the state doesn’t require the schools to provide bilingual education for speakers of only French, German, Mandarin, Farsi, or any other foreign language.)

 

It seems like we are designing our public education system to be easier to use for illegal aliens than citizens!

 

My state’s governor (a Hispanic Republican named Susie Martinez) has been trying to make it illegal to issue a driver’s license to an illegal alien. Our legislature, however, thinks that this is being racist. That same legislature also wants to give the right to vote to the illegal alien.

 

The Constitution of the United States states that one of the requirements of the Federal Government is to protect and secure our borders. It is obvious that this is not popular with our current administration.

 

Though I dislike conservative radio, their commentators have stated that all of this is to create a new voting bloc that will solidly back the party that justifies their residency.

 

These criminals need to be deported. We are not their free lunch. Period. End of story.

 

Alan W. Hatch

Las Cruces, New Mexico

You make compelling arguments, Alan. Ever since political correctness reared its ugly head, I have never understood how citizens of this country can be held to a stricter standard than people who aren’t. I practically have to submit to a DNA test (and this is a slight exaggeration!) to prove who I am in order to be seen by a doctor, but don’t ask people to show identification to vote because that discriminates against non-citizens. It’s enough to make a person gnash his teeth.

I think our country should be welcoming to immigrants. After all, weren’t our own ancestors immigrants?

These are the requirements I would have for immigration: The potential immigrant must live in our country for 10 years without being arrested or requiring food stamps, Medicaid or other state support.


They would be required to verify with immigration officials on a yearly basis that they remain crime-free and self-supporting. They must pass an English proficiency test prior to having citizenship granted.

Incidentally, I would do away with the dual-language requirements on documents and in other places. Anyone living in this country should learn to speak English and should not require special schooling (paid for by the state) or interpreters to conduct ordinary daily activities. Learning English is an important step toward integrating into our culture.

Rebecca

I like the rules you have come up with, Rebecca. They sound reasonable to me.


Honestly Kathy, what a stupid question. How can you pose it? All people are to be treated with respect and kindness, no matter who they are! How many times do we have to be told this? It is none of our business whether they are illegal or not! This subject or any like it that question how we treat people should not be posed to LDS. LDS know what’s required of them. No, we don’t have to “protect” domestic jobs. We are all equal in God’s eyes. This question makes me mad, as you can see.

Seeing Red

Thanks for your input, Red. I think Vim meant to ask about the issue of illegal immigration, rather than how to treat illegal immigrants. I can’t imagine her being rude to anybody. The question of illegal immigrationwhether you live in the U.S. or, like Vim, in the UK, or somewhere else, howeveris an ongoing issue.

Okay, Kathy. You are opening a “can of worms.” I believe that, as your quote says, we are all “descended from immigrants and revolutionists”but even so, we all need to follow the laws of the land and make sure we have all our “paper work” taken care of so we are legal.

I am from Canada and moved to the US when I was a young girlbut I had to take care of all the forms and prove I could take care of myself before I was allowed to come. I had to “report every year” where I was living until I became a U.S, citizen. So yes, all are welcome, but please do it the right way and follow the laws of the land.

Now for me to go back and visit Canada, I had to drive from Portland, Oregon (where I live now) to the border of Vancouver, Canada, and fill out all sorts of papers to be allowed to “visit” my place of birthhad to wait for two weeks for my paperwork to be returned to me before I could “enter the country” or I could apply for a passport. I was just following the laws of the land.

As a member of the Church we need to obey the laws of the land, and be good citizens of our neighborhoods, communities and our country. And as immigrants that is exactly what needs to happenmembers of the Church or notjust obey the rules and be good citizens, and you will be welcomed.

Now, if they can’t live the laws of the land and cause problems (dealing drugs, robbing and stealing, and committing other crimes) they should be sent back straight away!

Now as far as “them” taking our jobsif they are qualified and willing to work for their wages, then it is no different than any other candidate for the job. That’s just the way it is! The employer has the right to choose whom he wants to work with. Something to think about!

Rosemary Evans

Thanks for your input, Rosemary. It looks as though we started and ended today’s comments with the opinions of immigrants, and that’s pretty cool.

We’ll start another topic next week. If you have an idea for a subject you’d like to discuss, send your ideas to [email protected]. DO NOT USE THE FORM ON THIS PAGE, BECAUSE THINGS GET LOST THAT WAY. JUST USE THIS EMAIL ADDRESS! Be sure to put a subject on it so I’ll know it isn’t spam.

Until next week – Kathy

“Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home,

but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.”

Jean Rhys

 

Want more Kathryn H. Kidd? Visit www.planetkathy.com to read her blog, get free stuff, and participate in the new Ask Madame Kathy forum. Kathy also has a weekly column at the Nauvoo Times (www.nauvootimes.com).