September 3, 2010 by The Mormon Worker
Committing a crime is something that we as a society and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) are strongly opposed to. Illegal immigration is not a crime. Paul Mero explained it succinctly on the website of the conservative Sutherland Institute: “… illegal immigration is a civil violation, not unlike a speeding ticket. It’s not a misdemeanor and it certainly isn’t a felony. In other words, under the law, the initial act of illegal immigration isn’t a criminal act – unless speeding is a crime. And illegal immigrants aren’t ‘criminals’ unless everyone who goes over the speed limit is a ‘criminal’ [whether ticketed or not]. ” That might also explain why illegal immigrants hold Temple recommends, serve as bishops or branch presidents, and are allowed to go on missions, just as those who speed aren’t denied to do the same.
When the Savior was asked by one of the scribes, “Which is the first commandment of all?” His answer was categorical: “… The first of all the commandments is … thou shalt love the Lord thy God … And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31) Are not illegal immigrants our neighbors in every sense of the word? Do actions such as racial profiling, name calling, and using hateful language reflect the same love we have of ourselves?
Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Twelve Apostles warned us about these negative feelings in the April 1992 General Conference: “If the adversary can influence us to pick on each other, to find fault, bash, and undermine, to judge or humiliate or taunt, half his battle is won. Why? Because though this sort of conduct may not equate with succumbing to grievous sin, it nevertheless neutralizes us spiritually. The Spirit of the Lord cannot dwell where there is bickering, judging, contention, or any kind of bashing.” He continues: “So what is the antidote for this bashing that hurts feelings, demeans others, destroys relationships, and harms self-esteem? Bashing should be replaced with charity.”
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail- Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.” (Moro. 7:46–47.)
Finally Elder Ashton points out: “Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet.”
Often people ask: What would the Savior do? We can find the answer by looking to what He DID do—how He responded to the woman taken in adultery. This was a woman who was guilty of violating the law, and whose punishment was to be stoned to death. Was Christ there, rallying the people to execute her punishment to the fullest extent of the law? Or did He remind those present to look within first? Perhaps we should let he who has never sped (or committed another such civil violation) cast the first stone.
Most immigrants (whether here legally or illegally) have had no previous exposure to the LDS church or what is stands for. How sad that their first (and possibly only) experience with the church will be filled with hatred, racism, and name calling–rather than the Christian ideals of charity and compassion.
There is no doubt that comprehensive immigration reform is urgently needed; however, it must be done in a compassionate and humane way–after all, we are dealing with humans (and our neighbors). Please contact your local state legislator and ask him/her to vote against representative Steve Sandstrom’s immigration bill, which separates families and promotes racial profiling. Please also contact your Federal legislator and express your desire for Congress to pass compassionate and humane comprehensive immigration reform.
The emails of several Utah Legislators who will be influential on immigration issues are below:
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