I have been very torn about the illegal immigration problem in our nation caused by the failure of our federal government to secure our borders. My feelings have varied from compassion for the good people who come to our country seeking better lives for themselves and their families to fear concerning those who come with a desire to change the very fabric of our society.
Having been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for my entire life and having been taught to honor, obey, and sustain the law of the land, I had a difficult time trying to mesh together the teachings to obey the laws of the land, counsel to have compassion for those who come to our nation illegally, and the idea of rewarding those same law-breakers with amnesty. I certainly did not agree with President Obama's statement that illegal aliens are the same as immigrants who come legally through Ellis Island.
Seeing no common sense in what I was hearing, I went to the Church's web site to read for myself what the Church had to say about dealing with illegal immigrants. I found the following statement, which greatly clarified the situation for me:
"The Church has spoken a number of times about the issue of immigration. Specifically, it has spoken in support of the Utah Compact and has described the package of bills passed by the Utah Legislature, taken together, as `a responsible approach' to the difficult question of immigration reform.
"The Church's position is based on three basic principles: 1) The commandment to `love thy neighbor.' 2) The importance of keeping families intact. 3) The federal government's obligation to secure its borders.
"The Church appreciates the package of bills that the legislature had passed, including House Bill 116. The Church feels that this package was a responsible attempt to address the principles outlined above.
"The February 28 Deseret News editorial, "A Model For The Nation" also accurately reflects the position of the Church regarding immigration reform, including measures that will allow those who are now here illegally to work legally, provide for their families and become better contributing members of our community - but without establishing a path to citizenship or granting amnesty.
"The Church may speak further on this subject if it is necessary to refute any misunderstandings or correct distortions of its views that have found their way into the discussion taking place on this important topic."
The article in the Deseret News entitled "A Model For The Nation," further clarified the situation for me. The article states that Utah may have forged "a comprehensive solution that has eluded Congress and other legislatures. This promising solution will require statesmanship that navigates the many crosscurrents that might exist both within and between the House and the Senate.
"The Utah solution that is emerging would weed out dangerous criminals without overburdening local law enforcement. It would hold employers and employees to account for compliance with the laws. But it would also provide a pragmatic way for hardworking but undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and contribute productively without creating a path to citizenship.
"By being the first state-based initiative to forge a comprehensive solution to the problems associated with illegal immigration, Utah's solution would raise as many important questions as it might answer. And undoubtedly, if implemented, Utah would discover the need to refine and adjust elements of the legislation.
"But these uncertainties that come with any innovation are not reason enough to stall. Utah's pioneering heritage has taught us that there are great rewards to being on the frontier and, that working together, our community can address the most challenging issues with tough, pragmatic and economically prudent solutions."
The newspaper article also included the following statement issued early in the discussion on immigration policy by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the owner of the Deseret News: "Finding a successful resolution will require the best thinking and goodwill of all across the political spectrum, the highest levels of statesmanship, and the strongest desire to do what is best for all of God's children."
I am pleased to know exactly what the Church's position is, especially the clarity it gives about loving our neighbor but also "obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." It appears to me, with my limited understanding of the situation, that the Utah solution may truly be the answer to our national problem with illegal immigration. I can easily understand the impossibility of disentangling all the families who have both illegal aliens and those granted citizenship because they were born in our country. There would be too much social, emotional, and political turmoil if our government even tried to deport the millions of illegal immigrants in our country. Yet, we must do something!
I was very pleased that the Church's statement included "The federal government's obligation to secure its borders." We must secure our borders. I have heard that 35,000 murders have taken place along our southern border because of the evil drug cartels that are operating in the area. Our citizens do not want criminal elements coming into our nation! I personally could accept giving amnesty to those illegal immigrants already here IF our borders were secure enough to keep us from being over-run by even more illegal aliens - such as what happened the last time amnesty was declared in the 1980s.
I now feel confident that there is a way to show compassion to those who are in our nation illegally while also living by the rule of law. I am grateful to know that our Church is led by a prophet of God who can see so clearly through the foggy areas of our earthly life.