Keep New Times Free

Mormon Church: Legalize Undocumented Residents, Forget Mass Expulsion

The Mormon church announced last week that it advocates a type of amnesty for illegal immigrants who "square themselves with the law and continue to work" in the United States.

The statement, published on the church's website, also takes aim at harsh anti-illegal-immigrant laws like those passed in Arizona and other states:

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 message follows the church's apparent support of a position statement by some members on the subject of immigration called the Utah Compact.

The church makes the obvious point that trying to expel an estimated 12 million people would be horrendous, judging by previous mass expulsions throughout history, and implies such a move  probably would have racist overtones.

At the same time, the public letter says the church "discourages" members from entering countries illegally or overstaying legal travel visas.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

In other words, the church stance is similar to the reality of U.S. immigration policy: Illegal migrants shouldn't come, but if they find a job and keep out of trouble, they can stay.

The politics of immigration in the Mormon-dominated state of Utah have been somewhat divided in recent months, with moderate conservatives backed by the church winning the day. A bill signed by the governor in March that takes effect in two years aims to set up a guest-worker program.

Meanwhile, the church has 16,000 missionaries spreading the word of Joseph Smith in Latin America, with 3,600 in Mexico alone, according to an article published last month in the Salt Lake Tribune. The safety of these church members has been a huge concern as news of right-wing rhetoric in Utah trickles south.

Our cynical side can't help but follow the money: The church's relatively lightweight stance (from the conservatives' viewpoint) paves the road for future, tithe-paying members. Critics note that the 1978 "revelation" that blacks could finally join the priesthood preceded the opening of a new temple in Brazil.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.