In the first main coverage commentary underneath newly put in LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson, the Utah-based religion recommended Congress on Friday to act temporarily to offer protection to from deportation the so-called “Dreamers,” kids introduced to the U.S. by way of their undocumented oldsters.
In a information free up posted on the mormonewsroom.org, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints referred to as on lawmakers to “provide hope and opportunities” for the estimated 1.eight million Dreamers these days residing within the country.
Mormon leaders famous that whilst “immigration is a complex and sometimes divisive issue . . . we believe our first priority is to love and care for another as Jesus Christ taught.”
While falling wanting endorsing any “specific legislative or executive solution,” the church nevertheless recommended “our nationwide leaders to create insurance policies that offer hope and alternatives for the ones, every now and then referred to as ‘Dreamers,’ who grew up right here from a tender age and for whom this nation is their house.
“They have constructed lives, pursued instructional alternatives and been hired for years founded on the insurance policies that had been in position,” the commentary continues. “These individuals have demonstrated a capacity to serve and contribute positively in our society, and we believe they should be granted the opportunity to continue to do so.”
Until not too long ago, Dreamers had been safe from deportation underneath Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which allowed them a felony pathway to attend college and paintings within the nation. In September, President Donald Trump introduced that he was once rescinding the Obama-era program, which he noticed as government overreach, transferring the duty for an answer to congressional leaders.
Luis Garza, government director of Comunidades Unidas, a Utah Latino advocacy crew, welcomed the commentary from the state’s essential religion.
“This is very encouraging,” he mentioned. “… We couldn’t agree more that [immigration policy] should be focused on keeping families together.”
Garza mentioned his crew was once satisfied to have the LDS Church, which wields tough affect in Utah, “calling on our congressional delegation to take leadership on this issue.”
Richard Jaramillo, president of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, noticed the commentary as a nice wonder, given the not too long ago reshuffling of LDS Church leadership after the Jan. 2 loss of life of President Thomas S. Monson.
“Really, I thought this would be an issue that would be outside [their attention] because of the recent transition on leadership,” Jaramillo mentioned. “Having the LDS Church come out with this kind of statement should give political cover for members of Congress to finally do the right thing.”
Some observers had suspected the brand new Mormon leadership — Nelson and his counselors Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring — would take a extra conservative stance. This new governing First Presidency has been in position for lower than two weeks.
Church spokesman Eric Hawkins mentioned Friday’s commentary ”had the approval of best church leadership.”
Bernardo Castro-Bernal, a Mormon Dreamer and previous LDS missionary, was once satisfied together with his church’s stance, however wanted it had come quicker.
“Maybe this is a change of tone [for the church] with the new leadership,” the 26-year-old Orem telecommunications salesman mentioned.
Castro-Bernal, who served his LDS undertaking in St. George, mentioned it most probably can be encouraging, too, to different Mormon missionaries who’re undocumented.
These potential missionaries (who will have to claim their immigration standing earlier than serving) are assigned simplest to U.S. missions and feature to keep out of airports and arrive and go away by way of automobile, bus or teach.
Other than for its missionaries, the LDS Church takes a “don’t ask, don’t tell” manner towards the immigration standing of its individuals and attainable converts. Some estimate between 50 % and 75 % of Mormons in Utah’s 100-plus Spanish-speaking congregations are undocumented. That comprises lots of the lay leaders.
According to an inner 2012 record, released by MormonLeaks, LDS leaders had been informed they don’t have a duty to ask or document an immigrant’s residency standing. It additional states that welfare help will have to be divvied to undocumented immigrants as it’s to all individuals as spelled out underneath church tips.
Ron Mortensen, a Utah Mormon and a fellow on the Center for Immigration Studies, criticized the church’s commentary.
“The church is only looking at one side of the ‘mercy-justice’ equation with this statement,” he mentioned, “mercy for the Dreamers.”
An established anti-illegal immigration suggest, Mortensen mentioned research have proven that the majority Dreamers held jobs earlier than gaining DACA standing. To land employment, he famous, they’d have had to supply Social Security numbers.
“Illegal aliens cannot legally get a Social Security number,” he mentioned, so “they use a fraudulent number. If they do so, they have committed multiple felonies — forgery, Social Security fraud, perjury and, in Utah, if that number belongs to another person, identity theft.”
“The church is looking only at the ‘mercy’ side of the equation and providing no justice for those victims of identity theft,” Mortensen mentioned. “If the church was serious about combining mercy with justice, they would require DACA recipients to contribute to a victims’ restitution fund that their victims could draw on in order to recover their identities.”
Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah and the Mormon daughter of Haitian immigrants, has been pushing for a DACA answer and cheered Friday’s commentary from Mormon leaders.
“Strengthening and keeping families together is also of utmost importance to me, and I applaud their encouragement to seek a balance between compassion and border security,” she mentioned in a information free up. “I recently met with the president to discuss solutions about how to move forward on immigration and I look forward to having a seat at the table and working with my colleagues in the House on immigration legislation.”
The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, an established supporter of immigrant rights, was once satisfied to have the state’s greatest faith formally sign up for the pro-Dreamers camp.
“The statement from our brothers and sisters at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a welcome reminder of our shared values as people of faith,” diocese spokeswoman Jean Hill mentioned. “The Diocese of Salt Lake City is hopeful that our common desire to protect the vulnerable, preserve family unity, and promote human dignity will be reflected in the decisions of our congressional delegation regarding immigration.”
The Utah bankruptcy of the American Civil Liberties of Union joined the refrain of supporters.
“Obviously, the church’s statement shows there is widespread, positive support for Dreamers here in Utah and across the country,” spokesman Jason Stevenson mentioned. “This [statement] is a very positive development, and also reflects an increased sense of urgency to solve the issue.”
He mentioned that, whilst it’s true no Dreamers are these days being deported, many of us don’t notice that “underneath the present felony limbo we’re in [we are] shedding the youngest of the Dreamers, the ones 15 years outdated who now can’t follow for coverage from deportation.
“The church’s commentary lately presentations they would like to do one thing now that protects all of those younger other folks,” Stevenson mentioned.
In its commentary, the LDS Church mentioned that problems with immigration and felony standing are “of concern for many of our members” due to its world presence and historical past of individuals emigrating for spiritual functions.
“Our hope is that, in whatever solution emerges, there is provision for strengthening families and keeping them together,” it said, whilst permitting that, “every nation has the right to enforce its laws and secure its borders and that all persons subject to a nation’s laws are accountable for their acts in relation to them.”
The LDS Church has voiced its strengthen earlier than for immigrants. It recommended, however didn’t signal, the Utah Compact, a guiding record broadly embraced by way of spiritual, trade and civic leaders in calling for a federal answer with an eye fixed towards compassion for undocumented immigrants.
“Families are meant to be together. Forced separation of working parents from their children weakens families and damages society,” the LDS Church website stated in 2011. “Public officials should create and administer laws that reflect the best of our aspirations as a just and caring society. Such laws will properly balance love for neighbors, family cohesion, and the observance of just and enforceable laws.”
LDS apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf, then a member of the First Presidency and himself a two-time refugee, met two times (2013 and 2014) with then-President Barack Obama within the White House,the place he voiced strengthen for the Utah Compact and termed it a “pillar” within the immigration debate.
One of the LDS Articles of Faith states that Mormons “believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
For his section, Mortensen mentioned the church is hypocritical when it baptizes unlawful immigrants, “allowing them to continue to use stolen identities and to commitidentity theft while holding the priesthood and receiving otherordinances of the gospel.”
“Part of repentance is you have to acknowledge your sin, stop doing it and have to make restitution,” he mentioned. “If that was an Americancitizen committing identity theft, he would be told to stop his crimes.”
Reporters Peggy Fletcher Stack and Mariah Noble contributed to this document.