What is it that Bishop Burton appreciates in Utah’s new immigration laws?

Last week, Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert signed a set of immigration bills. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church, was present at the signing, and expressed his approval: “Our presence here testifies to the fact that we’re appreciative of what has happened in the Legislature.”

The Most Rev. John Wester, Catholic Bishop of Salt Lake City, responded to the signing with praise for the legislators’ goodwill, but also concern for the new laws themselves:

I appreciate the sincere efforts of Governor Gary Herbert and some Legislators to adopt humane solutions in the face of the federal government’s failure to act on immigration reform. Each Legislator’s desire to do what he or she felt was right under the circumstances was clear throughout the debate. I particularly respect Governor Herbert’s decision to sign several immigration bills in the face of extreme opposition.

However, reasonable people of goodwill may differ on strategies for achieving common goals. The Diocese of Salt Lake City finds H.B. 497 Utah Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act, H.B. 116 Utah Immigration Accountability and Enforcement Amendments, and H.B. 469 Immigration Related Amendments ill-advised. We have concerns about the practical effects of H.B. 466 Migrant Workers and Related Commission Amendments.


Was Bishop Burton praising the legislative process, like Rev. Wester did, or these particular fruits of the process? If the latter, what in particular is good about these new laws? If the former, what was good about this bit of politicking?

Below are links to the text of the four house bills, in case that is useful for anyone. I ask any commenters to please focus on this particular legislation, Bishop Burton’s response to it, and lessons Latter-day Saints should derive. Please do not leave more general remarks for or against immigration.

H.B. 116 Utah Immigration Accountability and Enforcement Amendments

H.B. 466 Migrant Workers and Related Commission Amendments

H.B. 469 Immigration Related Amendments

H.B. 497 Utah Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act
(“This bill requires that an officer verify the immigration status of a person arrested for a felony or a class A misdemeanor and a person booked for class B or C misdemeanors and requires that an officer attempt to verify immigration status for a person detained for a class B or C misdemeanor.”)

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About John Mansfield

Mansfield in the desertA third-generation southern Nevadan, I have lived in exile most of my life in such places as Los Alamos, Baltimore, Los Angeles, the western suburbs of Detroit, and currently the northern suburbs of Washington, D.C. I work as a fluid dynamics engineer. I was baptized at age twelve in the font of the Las Vegas Nevada Central Stake Center, and on my nineteenth birthday I received the endowment in the St. George Temple. I served as a missionary mostly in the Patagonia of Argentina from 1985 to 1987. My true calling in the Church seems to be working with Cub Scouts, whom I have served in different capacities in four states most years since 1992. (My oldest boy turned eight in 2004.) I also currently teach Sunday School to the thirteen-year-olds. I hold degrees from two universities named for men who died in the 1870s, the Brigham Young University and the Johns Hopkins University. My wife is Elizabeth Pack Mansfield, who comes from New Mexico's north central mountains and studied molecular biology at the same two schools I attended. We have four sons, whose care and admonition, along with care of my aged father, require much of Elizabeth's time. She currently serves the Church as Mia-Maid advisor, ward music chairman, and choir director, and plays violin whenever she can. One day, I would like to make shoes.

61 thoughts on “What is it that Bishop Burton appreciates in Utah’s new immigration laws?

  1. I think the answer is obvious enough: (1) The Church has a large number of local members who are in the country illegally (2) Legal issues aside, the Church leadership does not feel that deporting people or breaking up families is a humane way of enforcing this particular law
    (3) Therefore the Church welcomes even symbolic measures to show that Utah is in favor of a reasonable compromise.

  2. Geoff, I am sorry we will miss your input on this issue of much interest to you.

    Mark D., your 1,2,3 seem about right. H.B. 497 doesn’t really seem much different from Arizona’s much reviled law on checking immigration status, but it seems to enough different to seem hostile to most people. Maybe it was just debated in a gentler fashion. The other laws don’t add up to much more than gestures that have zero chance of meaningful implementation. I think you’re right that the Church’s statements and participation in this issue do oppose deportation.

  3. It seems bizarre for state legislatures to be passing laws that have no practical effect, since immigration law, including enforcement, is the purview of the Federal government. What is the real purpose of this? I think Mark D. is correct, it is purely symbolic.

  4. I just read the Newsroom’s statement on this. I think it’s relevant, and captures the desire for a balanced approach, a compromise.

    As to E’s statement, as I listened to some of the press conference (I think I heard it on ksl.com), one reason I think Utah wanted to act quickly on this was to send a signal and a message to the Federal government to take action. I think it was elsewhere that I heard someone comment on the fact that at least states like AZ and UT are doing SOMETHING. Whether that is a reason to create laws at the state level is of course up for discussion, but that did catch my attention. To see Utah not stand idly by and to try to bring many points of view and opinions and positions together on a tough issue to me is not insignificant, even if you don’t like the fact that the state did something or don’t like the details of what passed.

  5. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure where I heard what I shared, so don’t quote me as quoting ksl.com! ;)

  6. For those of us who wished for a real stop to illegal immigration, this is not “symbolic.” It is a real loss. And now I can add the LDS faith to the growing list of racist organizations who work and plot against me because I am just an ignorant whiteboy cracker who DESERVES to have his wages lowered, his kids’ schools filled with non-English speakers, and his neighborhood filled with the drunken violence of the worst filth Mexico (and every other country EXCEPT the European ones) has to offer. When it does come down to defending the temples from the Azetlan agressors, you will not find either me or my son playing bodyguard outside on the temple grounds while the eastbench elites sit inside the c-room and pray –no doubt for the souls of those who are trying to kill me and my boy.

  7. Lamanites met others who were seeking liberty,
    And the land soon welcomed all who wanted to be free.
    Book of Mormon stories say that we must brothers be,
    Given this land if we live righteously.

    Let’s apply our principles to the situation, rather than our politics. Do we welcome people who seek liberty? Do we believe that we should welcome those who want to be free (from opression, crime, etc.)? Do we seek to be brothers not only in word but in deed? Do we believe this is a land given in promise, that we will be blessed in it, but only as we live righteously (with our brothers who are seeking liberty)?

    I’d say “Yes” to all of the above. Now having those principles in mind, which I hope most of us share. Let’s apply it to the situation and not knee jerk react and get mad at people. Let’s see the real problems that come as a result of immigration and seek ways to limit/reduce those problems -without- seeking to prevent people from being welcomed into the promised land of liberty.

    Work hard, integrate into society, be legal, contribute and not consumer social resources, and what problem do you have?

    As far as I’m concerned, the only problems I have with illegal immigration is a result of our broken criminal justice system and the welfare state. Fix those problems and I believe we will be blessed immeasurably for restoring this nation to one who indeed welcomes those who want to be free.

  8. Sure Chris, do you even know what Azetlan is? Are you even aware that the Lt Gov Bustamante of CA refused to renounce Azetlan, of which he was a member, during the election cycle. No, of course not. All you saw was an ignorant cracker you could talk down to and call “reactionary” or as you put it: “knee jerk” Feel better about yourself Chris? Because you saw on TV that people who think like you are better than people like me. So good show. Your TV Land morals have saved you again from 1. doing any research 2. thinking at all. And NO, this country is not for anybody who wishes to come here. Don’t believe me. Ask the white irish girl who was pulled out of an LDS seminary building and deported b/c SHE was here illegally. Didn’t know about that face of “immigration” either I bet?

  9. Thanks for your question, John. Your kind request for clarification has snapped me out of my ugly mood. I can see by the time stamps that this blog is not on Mountain Time, and it just occurred to me that you may not be fully aware of the nature of each of the bills, or what was accomplished by signing all of them. The reason why the Utah locals are so upset at Gov Herbert is because it was a political manipulation of the lowest kind to sign ALL of the bills. They are mutually exclusive. It is like passing one law guaranteeing marriage is between a man and a woman, and then on the same day sign another giving domestic partnerships legal status. THAT is politics, BUT the fact that the presiding bishopric was there is terrifying.

  10. I think Millennial Star is running on Arizona time. I am in Maryland, and so didn’t know much about the happenings of Utah politics until these bills were passed, and the words of Bishop Burton became news. Viewed from the outside after the fact, it is hard to tell what those who like these bills like about them or what those who don’t like them are worried about. On paper, they don’t seem to amount to much.

  11. Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem wrote House Bill 497 and all that bill did was make it possible for UT law enforcement to deport illegal immigrants who also commit an additional felony. To counter this “hate bill”, the opposition wrote House Bill 116, which was touted as “the comprehensive immigration bill.” And that vicious canard contained Rep. Bill Wright’s guest worker program for illegal immigrants which included in-state tuition for certain children of illegal immigrants! So Rep. Sandstrom refused to go to the signing and stated it was because the Governor was going to sign all four of the bills. Next thing we know, Gov Herbert invites “local leaders” which includes, lo and behold, the presiding bishop. That’s how I know that I am just another fat cracker to the LDS church. Illegal Immigrant = Church Growth … Fat Cracker = Embarassing Liability

  12. The guest worker stuff will never be implemented. Pure symbolism, so needs to be evaluated on that basis. In-state tuition is something real.

    Something I tried looking up and couldn’t find anywhere: Who were the religious leaders beside Bishop Burton at the signing? Did Rev. Wester attend even though he doesn’t like the laws?

  13. Pigpen wrote:

    “Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem wrote House Bill 497 and all that bill did was make it possible for UT law enforcement to deport illegal immigrants who also commit an additional felony.”

    Um, I don’t think that this is accurate. As I understand it, Sandstrom’s bill allowed local officers to arrest and detain illegal immigrantes who had committed felonies. It doesn’t allow Utah to deport them. They still must go through the federal system to be deported.

    Since it costs something like $4,000 a head to deport those here illegally, I’m quite sure Utah can’t afford to deport anyone!!

  14. I will warrant that the situation may not be fair (hey, I am in Arizona so I know whereof I speak) but beyond the legalities, what should be done? There is no practical way to get rid of immigrants that is neither mass deportation (a la Trail of Tears) or hard on our economy (see fruit that has gone unpicked in California because of once tightened laws). We don’t need Pigpen’s racism, nor the entitlement state of the political left. As long as Mexico is a third world country, and we are at the top, there will be immigration, period. When there is that much as stake, people will find new ways in. Yes, the job situation causes problems for us.

    But listening to Pigpens racist rantings is even more vexing. If I hear the word ‘cracker’ one more time, in such a hateful fashion, you will thank your lucky stars you are not in Phoenix.

  15. “Fat Cracker = Embarassing (sic) Liability”

    At least he got one thing right. Seriously, there are plenty of venues where racism is perfectly acceptable. The comments section on Yahoo News, for example. This, however, isn’t one of them (I hope).

    You do realize the irony of calling the LDS church a “racist organization,” right? And yes, if you are who you present yourself to be here on this blog, I do hope the LDS church “work[s] and plot[s]” against you, not because you’re “ignorant,” or for the other reasons you gave, but because of your racism.

  16. Pigpen – I think if you read my post you would see I have done some thinking and living on this issue. I’ve been in all of the affected places and I’ve lived as all of those affected. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, literally, and symbolically. If experienced life in both pairs of shoes.

    I’m not sure why you’re attacking me so or others so much. If you are in attack mode, may I suggest as a brother to look at where those feelings are coming from. My mind is not even to bother replying as I don’t want to incite anything else.

    But I do think its important that we separate the people from the problem. I don’t have a problem with Mexicans, Canadians, Samoans, Pakistanis, etc.

    I have a problem with people breaking laws. I have a problem with government halting people’s temporal and eternal progression. I have a problem with people using the heavy hand of government to accomplish their social policies.

    I don’t have any problem in the slightest with a hard working man or woman who wants to bring their family to the land of the free and give life their best shot. Remove the apparatus of the welfare state. Create systems which encourage legal, safe immigration. Create systems which enable people to come and play by the rules. And create systems which enforce and punish law breakers who are here as guests.

    But don’t treat people who just want a better shot at life like they are the problem. The problem is not the people (who are following the laws, albeit not those broken immigration laws), but rather the heavy handed state which has its fingers in every nook and cranny of our lives that the default position is to treat us like either criminals who need to be spied on or infants who need to be taken care of cradle to grave.

    The more I look at it, the more I see the intrusive nature of the state being the problem, even though many feel it’s goals are noble.

  17. Next thing we know, Gov Herbert invites “local leaders” which includes, lo and behold, the presiding bishop. That’s how I know that I am just another fat cracker to the LDS church. Illegal Immigrant = Church Growth … Fat Cracker = Embarassing Liability

    Ouch. Don’t mask your feelings too much there.

    It would be very interesting to see where you end up going with this. I can think of a few similar instances in LDS history where there were also strong feelings: perhaps the MX missile crisis, certainly the 1978 priesthood revelation, the opposition to the repeal of the 18th amendment, the opposition to the equal rights amendment, and the support for Proposition 8. To some degree or another in each of these cases members were angry at the Church’s actions.

    I guess I’m really a TBM, because even though I don’t understand (even now) the Church’s position on one or two of these issues, I can’t ever see getting to where I say what you have said here.

    I hope I haven’t offended, but I’m very curious about your logic in saying what you’ve said here.

  18. “I don’t have any problem in the slightest with a hard working man or woman who wants to bring their family to the land of the free and give life their best shot. Remove the apparatus of the welfare state. Create systems which encourage legal, safe immigration. Create systems which enable people to come and play by the rules. And create systems which enforce and punish law breakers who are here as guests.”

    I agree with you, but the problem is that this is not that bill. The good news is that I almost agree that it is mostly symbolic and the government of Utah and the United States won’t put it into any kind of action. My biggest concern, however, is the guest worker program for illegal immigrants which included in-state tuition for certain children of illegal immigrants, as pigpen describes that portion of the law. There isn’t enough money for that and it takes away funds for law abiding citizens who could use the same. For a “fiscal conservative” state like Utah, this is very disappointing. This provision rewards illegal behavior and encourages law breaking.

    If I went to Canada or Mexico, I don’t doubt for a minute that I would be deported, or worse. That doesn’t bother me at all because I will neither move there or consider myself a citizen just because I can cross a political boundary. If we are concerned for the illegals because of the conditions of their life created by the political situation they came from, then allowing them to come here is not going to resolve the issues. We must even seriously ask if by them coming here they are spreading the problem? Yes, I am talking about the drug wars going on and slowly creeping onto the U.S. soil.

    I don’t know how this effects my feelings for the LDS Church’s involvement. However, it actually makes sense they would support some kind of lenient immigration law. That doesn’t mean I agree with it or will support such a similar law.

  19. I wonder which features of Utah’s new laws a Church spokesman or leader would say the Church supports:

    Checking immigration status of people when they are arrested.
    In-state tuition for migrants from other countries.
    An end to employment eligibility laws.
    Forming multistate compacts for some unclear, but no doubt vital purpose.
    Sending a memorandum to Nuevo Leon (and perhaps Christmas cards and family letters to follow).

  20. Looking at the guest worker permit program described in H.B. 116, I can’t see it working, quite apart from federal-state jurisdiction issues. The permits involve a lot of hoop jumping: being fingerprinted and undergoing a criminal background check, making a good faith best effort to become proficient in English, providing evidence that the permit holder will not drive without a license, not lying on the application, not hiring anyone who doesn’t have a guest worker permit.

    If current immigrant employment laws supposedly shouldn’t be enforced for practical or humanitarian reasons, then how would the new set of laws be any different? Like many such laws, this one also comes with a deadline: It only applies to people in Utah before May 10, 2011. Another “this time we really mean it” patch.

  21. As a Utahn and active LDS who opposes illegal immigration, maybe I can shed some light on why many of us are furious at Gov. Herbert’s signing of the bills and sad at the Church’s endorsement of them.

    One of the things that drives me nuts about the illegal immigration argument is the red herring of deportation. The reality is that most Utahns who oppose illegal immigration realize that deportation isn’t a realistic option. We don’t want to “round them up” and send them home. We frankly don’t even want our cops having to constantly check immigration status.

    So Geoff and those here who’s criticism is firmly based on false premises like this, please read my next statement very closely:

    The goal is not deportation. The goal is to make Utah less appealing to illegal immigrants. Period.

    I live and work on the west side of Salt Lake City- the very heart of illegal immigration in Utah, and I will tell you that the view I very clearly expressed above is shared by the majority of actual citizens in this area, as well as by those non-citizens who have come here legally (especially Latinos not of mixed-illegal families).

    Thus, any meaningful discussion about state legislation regarding illegal immigration must begin with this question:

    “Does this encourage or discourage illegal immigrants from settling in Utah?”

    The AZ-style enforcement law, in my view, discourages. If I’m an illegal immigrant looking for a state to call home, the very possibility that I’ll be checked (even if I know it’s catch and release) is a big negative. I’ll think twice before looking for work in Utah. This is the ultimate goal of this bill.

    The guest worker program, on the other hand, encourages illegal immigration to Utah. Again, if I’m looking for a state to call home, I see this as a “get out of jail (almost) free” card. Despite what the bill’s proponents claim, this is amnesty.

    How, you ask? I know John M. has discouraged comments of this nature, but humor me for a second.

    I steal something, I pay a fee and sign some paperwork, and I get to keep it. Amnesty. Poll after poll here has shown that most illegals don’t want citizenship. They don’t really want to integrate and be incorporated into our melting pot. They just want to live here and work. This guest worker bill seeks to give illegal immigrants exactly what they want. The cost of becoming even more of a magnet for illegal immigration far outweighs the benefits of “bringing them out of the shadows.”

    So while I do not condone Pigpen’s inconsiderate comments so far, he’s right when he says these bills are mutually exclusive. I simply don’t see how they can possibly jibe. Gov. Herbert appears to have signed all the bills in an attempt to make everybody happy and honor the sacred cow of compromise.

    My problem with Bishop Burton’s endorsement of the “Utah Solution” (excuse me while I vomit), is that it confirms the nagging suspicion of those of us who love our leadership but oppose illegal immigration, that the Church is pretty cool with it. Before, leadership has looked the other way on illegal immigration. That was annoying, but fine. Now- whether they meant it that way or not- the church is seen as officially endorsing particularly the guest worker program.

  22. Tossman,
    As we have both invoked our faith, you as a symbol of solidarity and me as using principles of my faith to determine my actions, can you square this statement:

    “The goal is to make Utah less appealing to illegal immigrants. Period.”

    with this one, which either all of us sang or our kids now sing in primary

    “And the land soon welcomed all who wanted to be free.”

    I fully understand the song is not scripture per se, but it is a pretty succinct way of summarizing God’s promised land as it relates to not only the Book of Mormon peoples, but more importantly to us, as the BoM was written for us and not for them.

    So if I can summarized your position, it would be the one state, where the highest percentage of people in the USA have the revealed word of God and understand the principles of being welcoming to all who want to be free, apply this principle to mean let’s make our state less welcome to those who don’t follow broken-federal immigration laws. “We welcome you to be free, just as long as it’s not in our state.”

    You said we can’t send them home. And I agree. So you just want to welcome them somewhere else, by preventing them from living in one of those places where the Gospel can be applied in word, and not just indeed.

    Here’s another problem. I think many people have been fighting the wrong battle. Some of the left use illegal immigration as a stick to beat the right with, and do it for many of the wrong reasons. The right fights back against illegal immigration. And yet, we all acknowledge the problem is not the guy who wants to bring his family here and pick lettuce or start his own lawn maintenance or drywall company.

    The problems are:
    - Failure to integrate (language, etc.)
    - Criminal activity (drugs, theft, violence, etc.)
    - Overloading public welfare systems (schools, hospitals, etc.)
    - Add some more to the list… I’m sure there is a lot.
    - Inadequate border protection
    - Broken or inadequate federal immigration laws (how can one even begin to immigrate?)

    So instead of solving these problems so many of those who I agree with on many issues jump right into the fray and battle over illegal immigration and make that down trodden man or woman dreaming of a better life for themself and/or their family back home part of the problem. Forgive me, but I don’t ever want to be of the political or philosophical persuasion that a person who is working a hard, honest days work, to support themself or their family “the problem”.

    Let’s outline the problems above…and not argue over people, but find ways to address the problems which come to light as a result of illegal immigration. We can address these problems, and I don’t pretend to have all the good solutions for them. But to me, that’s why we elect bright leaders. To work on the hard problems and seek for solutions that make all of society better. Not to knee jerk react and just want to squash whatever the issue of the day is with government control/intervention.

    On that last note, how do you suppose to make Utah less appealing? Working permits? Yes, asking people for their “papers please” is one way to approach it. But it doesn’t sound like a free society. You’re “free” to work, as long as the government grants you permission? No thanks!

    Let’s return to the principles that uplift and inspire and not get bogged down in technocratic, statist management, which is “good” this time because the right side wants it.

  23. oops…

    “where the Gospel can be applied in word, and not just indeed.”

    Should be

    where the Gospel can be applied in deed, and not just in word.

  24. Chris, this is exactly the type debate John M. was hoping to avoid, but I must respond to some of your points:

    …can you square this statement:

    “The goal is to make Utah less appealing to illegal immigrants. Period.”

    with this one, which either all of us sang or our kids now sing in primary

    “And the land soon welcomed all who wanted to be free.”

    I don’t think these statements are mutually exclusive, and thus are in no need of squaring. I do not accept this excerpt from a primary song as a scriptural proclamation to be applied the immigration debate. Nor do I accept that the land mentioned in the song is congruous with the sovereign United States. You’re stretching pretty far here.

    I’ll humor you though. I believe this land should welcome all who want to be free- conditionally. America is free because of its constitutional and legal structure. Thus, participating in this free environment without degrading it should be done within the legal structure. Yes, come, be free. But do it legally, please. If you’ve read my comments in other immigration-related threads here, you know I’m in favor of making immigration much easier for everybody.

    So if I can summarized your position, it would be the one state, where the highest percentage of people in the USA have the revealed word of God and understand the principles of being welcoming to all who want to be free, apply this principle to mean let’s make our state less welcome to those who don’t follow broken-federal immigration laws. “We welcome you to be free, just as long as it’s not in our state.”

    Nice wordplay there. So if I consider a law to be “broken” or flawed, it’s ok for me to disobey it? I welcome all potential immigrants from all lands to come here and be free. I simply believe that legal immigrants who wish to be full citizens and are willing to do what it takes will make for better neighbors than immigrants who don’t care to become citizens and who violate our laws (broken or not) to get what they want.

    So you just want to welcome them somewhere else, by preventing them from living in one of those places where the Gospel can be applied in word, and not just indeed.

    I’m not “preventing” them from living anywhere, and neither do these bills. Ours is a global church replete with communications resources. Physical gathering to Zion is no longer essential. When it comes to spreading the gospel, I’d rather members of all nations make it a priority to strengthen the church at home.

    So lets look at some of the problems you’ve outlined and propose some solutions:

    Failure to integrate (language, etc.)

    The difference between this wave of immigrants and previous waves is the matter of intention. I prefer immigrants who want to be all-in, full citizens over those who just want to live here. Our system should be changed to encourage the former and discourage the latter.

    Criminal activity (drugs, theft, violence, etc.)

    The problem isn’t the illegal immigrants themselves– it’s their kids, most of whom were born here and are now citizens. But when their kids commit these crimes, it’s still a product of illegal immigration. Discourage illegal immigration and reduce the derivative crime.

    Overloading public welfare systems (schools, hospitals, etc.)

    Again, discourage illegal immigration, reduce the burden on all of these systems. Amnesty, or even the perception thereof, has and will flood the system more. I know Utah media has done their best to prove that illegal immigrants are awesome for our economy and no burden whatsoever, but I don’t buy it (I’ll save that argument for another thread)

    I’ll stop listing now in the interest of brevity, but every one of these issues can be reduced or solved by discouraging illegal immigration. Every one of them is exaserbated by encouraging it.

    Forgive me, but I don’t ever want to be of the political or philosophical persuasion that a person who is working a hard, honest days work, to support themself or their family “the problem”.

    What if I, a hard-working person had hit rock bottom and came and pitched my tent uninvited in your front yard? What if I then demanded to drink from your water hose, eat from your garden, and plug into your electrical outlets? What if my kid got sick while we’re squatting in your yard and you got the doctor bill? Might you consider that a problem at some point?

  25. I acknowledged it was not “scripture”, but the aspirations are ones which I share, which I consider to be Godly. It that sense its meaning is sacred to me, even though it’s accompanied by a hokey tune.

    I violate the speeding limit on a near daily basis in order to get to where I am going 1 minute earlier. A law created specifically to save lives. Another violates the federal immigration laws with the hope of making their life better. I don’t point this out to say one is better than the other, but rather none of us is free to cast stones at the law breakers when we each stand in violation of laws for a plethora of reasons. That does not preclude us from enacting and enforcing laws by any means, but it does cause me to stop and consider the best approach, rather than just saying, “it’s the law”.

    Now, those who violate the immigration laws in order to, or who go on to scheme, steal, commit violence, etc. deserve just, swift punishment.

    It’s important to follow the laws of the land. It’s more important to favor the creation of laws which are just. Preventing someone from working or requiring approval from the government to work is not just, in my book. Enforcing borders and dealing with crime is just.

    If you, as a hard working person who hit rock bottom came and pitched your tent in my yard, I would do the best I could to help you get back on your feet. If you made demands, and continued to invade my property against my wishes, I would send you on your way. Fortunately, we agree that any immigrant coming to America to make demands of another’s property should be sent on their way. Well, actually, I’d precede that “sending” with trying to patiently persuade them the best way to act. I do not agree with someone protesting in the street demanding entitlement payments which they have not worked to receive, be it food stamps, welfare, unemployment, medical care, etc.

    Work to support yourself and your family. And then seek to help your neighbor so they can do the same. And be vigilant of your own liberties as well as those of others.

    I think your last sentence really does confuse the issue as I have been saying. The issue in your hypothetical case is not a person who wants to work for their betterment, or their children. But rather an individual who believes in or has been conditioned to expect a set of entitlements from the “State”. I don’t think any of those should be given or taken by force of government.

    I think we all share the necessity to work for ourselves and our families. And when we can’t, for whatever reason, we have an expectation of compassion by our own families and neighbors. But that expectation of compassion is never to be enforced or required of any man. If you don’t answer to the higher call of imparting your goods to your neighbor, no one can take them from you according to my philosophy, because they don’t belong to them (or you for that matter). They belong to the Lord.

    I still disagree with the premise that a person seeking a better life is “the problem” and creates crime. I’ve known far too many people seeking a better life who weren’t criminals in the drug/violence/theft sense.

    When you suggest we discourage illegal immigration, I’m in favor of that as a general principle. I’m certainly not suggesting we encourage more people to come here illegally. But often in identifying what a cured patient should look like, we come up with some treatments that are as bad or worse than the disease. That doesn’t change the fact that we all desire a cured patient.

    What things discourage illegal immigration? Border enforcement for one. Immigration rules which can be trusted and followed by well-meaning, law abiding people — I’d be in favor of things such as: sponsorship from a citizen, posting some kind of “bond” which will be repaid after a period of good behavior, for lack of a better term.

    I’d also suggest we can’t continue with a culture of entitlement, and all it implies. But the one thing I want every person to be entitled of, is once they are here, let them life and work to support themselves.

    I thank you for providing your opinions to me. I don’t think I have a whole lot more to say on the issue right now as I think we’ll just be repeating ourselves to each other. I understand your position, and I agree with a lot of your concerns, but I think your policy prescriptions only exacerbate the problem (they have not worked in other nations, which carry proposals on the right to even more stringent conclusion). I’m actually very conservative when it comes to respect of people’s property, tradition, morality, finances, etc. I’d go toe to toe with anyone about a number of the core principles that once defined Republicanism. But I think both sides have got it dead wrong when it comes to immigration.

  26. “Enforcing borders and dealing with crime is just.”

    Using this sentence, your argument seems to be we should enforce the boundaries, but since we can’t then we should excuse those who cross. Here is where I disagree as I feel that deportation is part of enforcing borders. They aren’t separate issues. It is either right to protect the boarders at all locations or it isn’t at any location. The outcome of keeping the person out is the same no matter where you put the line in the sand so long as there is a line.

    I agree that we should make a more streamlined and equitable immigration law. However, amnesty is raising our arms in frustration and tying our hands from sovereignty. Its also costing us money and therefore the ability to maintain freedom. The United States fought for Independence and that part of the history seems to have been forgotten.

  27. Let me just add/reiterate a couple points to bring things back around.

    -The Church’s endorsement (perceived or otherwise) is being interpreted by Utahns on both sides of this argument as an solid endorsement of the guest worker program and a tacit approval of amnesty. People are mad.

    -The Church-owened media here, KSL TV/Radio and the Deseret News, have spent the last year or so spinning this argument- softening the ground, so to speak. According to these media, illegal immigration is not a problem. In fact it’s excellent. We couldn’t possibly ask for better neighbors than illegal immigrants. Were they all to disappear tomorrow, the earth might just stop spinning on its axis. And if you disagree with these hard facts, you’re worse than Hitler. Newsflash, DesNews and KSL, some of us have brains.

    -I’m not the only active member in Utah that is getting sick of the Church weighing in on politics. Are we a faith or a political action committee? Last time I checked, there wasn’t anything about political activism in the baptismal and temple covenants.

  28. Too bad I’m out of the country and missing this debate. No way to do it from here. Be nice, everybody.

    Tossman, I wish you would comment on other issues. Your views, though I disagree with some (not all), on immigration, are well-presented. I’d like to see you give me some air cover on other issues someday. :)

  29. Tired of the Church weighing in political issues? You should read the Old Testament sometime – those prophets were much more bold than even we are.

    Perhaps God would tell us, if we would listen, that greater good will be done both presently and in futurity, if we do not cast them out. Much of the First World is in population decline and the US is barely breaking even, in large part because of Hispanics. This is why Europe is having such a problem with immigrant Muslims.

    Likewise, perhaps God is trying to whisper to us that there are more important things than the problems we are trying to focus on – that family and the Church are even more important than stopping lettuce pickers crossing the border. A feasible border and immigration policy (and less of govt. entitlement) would do more to protect us than all the fences we could build. I think Chris made this point better than I am. Unless the nation as a whole starts having a LOT more children fast, then immigration is going to happen sooner or later.

  30. It’s sad how the so-called conservatives who argue so stridently against “amnesty” seem to forget some of the principles that I thought were bedrock to them:

    1. Economics and free markets–the laws that drive immigration are primarily economic, but the restrictionist policies put forward by many conservatives these days seek to erect ever higher barriers to entry, as if economic laws could be reversed by constructing such barriers. As well might man stretch forth his puny arm and turn back the Missouri . . .

    2. Freedom–every requirement to prove legal status is another step toward government control of every facet of our lives. Want a job? Show your government-issued i.d. card. Want to rent an apartment? Ditto. Buy groceries? Same thing. With policies like this, how long before we become a totalitarian state? Do the restrictionists really want to forfeit all of their freedom in order to stick it to the immigrants?

    3. Truth–assertions like Jettboy’s, that immigrants “cost us money” is a half-truth at best, and a damnable lie at worst. The greatest waste of money has been the huge increase in border enforcement and removal–in the past 20 years the annual costs have skyrocketed, but the rate of illegal entry didn’t begin to slacken until the U.S. economy went into the tank. Why do the restrictionists want to continue pouring huge amounts of money down that rathole?

  31. Geoff, what can I say? it seems I’m a one issue man. I do actually have opinions on other topics, but I guess this is the only one that I’m passionate and/or knowledgeable enough to take the time to chime in on. I’ll provide air cover when I can:)

    Zen,

    Perhaps God would tell us, if we would listen, that greater good will be done both presently and in futurity, if we do not cast them out.

    Perhaps, but my bosom isn’t burning yet (even after much thought and prayer, and resigning myself to the fact that the course seems to be set).

    If God would have us look the other way on illegal immigration, I’d rather he convey that message directly through his prophet via official proclamation or from the Conference Center pulpit. Then I could consider it in that context and give it the ol’ Moroni test.

    For years the church has quietly thumbed its nose at immigration law, even going so far as shielding its illegal immigrant missionaries from it by keeping them in country. They wouldn’t sign the Utah Compact (for outsiders, that’s the “revolutionary” collaborative document that essentially called for amnesty), but they verbally endorsed it. Then instead of voicing their official approval of the immigration bills via proclamation or letter to stakes, they do it unofficially by sending Bishop Burton to the bill signing. Do you see a pattern here?

    Even if I were indifferent to the issue, I’d have a problem with what I see as the Church’s unmistakably duplicitous approach.

    Likewise, perhaps God is trying to whisper to us that there are more important things than the problems we are trying to focus on – that family and the Church are even more important than stopping lettuce pickers crossing the border.

    This is disingenuous. It’s not about stopping the lettuce pickers. The issue is chock full of nuance and complexity when we’re arguing that illegal immigration is no big deal, but it amazingly becomes black and white when somebody like me has a problem with it.

    Unless the nation as a whole starts having a LOT more children fast, then immigration is going to happen sooner or later.

    I’m all for having more children (got a gaggle of my own), but this sentence illustrates my beef with those who think immigration and illegal immigration are completely synonymous. Let immigration happen faster! Millions of people all over the world would love to come here. We need them, and I’m all for making it easier. All I ask is that we gear our immigration policy more toward those who want to become citizens, and away from those who could care less.

  32. Mark B., until somebody can prove to me on paper, without spinning the figures, that illegal immigration is any sort of boon to our economy, I’m not going to buy your economic arguments.

    I’m not an economist or KSL or the Deseret News, but I simply don’t understand how a ballooning population of undocumented residents is giving more than it’s taking.

  33. Tossman–reread Mark B.’s comment. I don’t see anything in it that claims that illegal immigration is a boon to our economy.

  34. Tim, I’m responding to his third point about cost. My response was broader than the point he was making, but the cannot be divorced from economics.

  35. Got it. My bad.
    I do think that conservatives often try to make this a black/white issue (including with the economic factor). It’s not black and white. Illegal immigrants are providing an economic benefit (cheap labor) and buying services and products, while also using public services (roads, schools, etc.) So they provide as much of an overall economic benefit as any other hardworking person.

    I do think the laws need to be changed, and we need to allow enough legal immigration to meet our needs. Right now we don’t do that, and so illegal immigrants come in to fill the demand for certain kinds of jobs (and certain wages).

  36. By the way, a fence across the entire border? Huge waste of money. Wow. And I doubt it will do much to keep illegal immigrants out.

  37. “to forget some of the principles that I thought were bedrock to them”

    You have forgotten the one bedrock that determines the thoughts on this subject over all the other “principles” you claim some knowledge of conservatives having.

    4.The Law! The law is supreme. All other considerations are shadowed by The Law of the Land. You might know it as the Constitution and everything that is associated with it. Right now the law of the land is that you can’t just cross the boundaries of the Independent, sovereign, United States of America and do or work how you want. You might say, “why be against a law that grants amnesty then?” Simple, because that would be no law at all and lawlessness is why The Law is the number one priority, backed by a strong U.S. Constitutional argument, that allows Economics and free markets, Truth, and Freedom to exist.

  38. Most conservatives aren’t opposed to amnesty as such, but want something reasonable to be done to control the influx first. That means most obviously a real border fence, and improved employment verification measures.

    Many of the advocates of amnesty, however, don’t want anything of the kind. In other words, what they want isn’t amnesty so much as a repeal of all immigration laws.

    That is certainly a respectable position, but it cheapens the argument to pretend that one wants a temporary amnesty from otherwise legitimate laws, when the real question that should be under debate is whether we should have immigration laws at all. If we have laws, we have to do something reasonable to try to enforce them.

  39. It’s nearly impossible to get clear numbers on the costs and benefits of undocumented immigration, and the field is full of spinners, perhaps none worse than the Federation of Bigots for American Immigration Reform (FAIR–hah!). (FAIR published a scare story about their calculation of the costs, but of course completely omitted any discussion of the coutervailing benefits.)

    What on earth makes you think that “a ballooning population of undocumented residents is [not] giving more than it’s taking”?

    In fact, what makes you think that they’re “taking” at all? They work, they pay rent, they buy groceries, they pay taxes, their economic activity spurs a whole lot of other economic activity, they work lousy jobs in horrid conditions, and then people like you complain that all they do is take?

    What is clear is that the billions of dollars poured into enforcement over the past 20 years has been a complete waste of money, and that all the efforts to increase enforcement have only moved us closer to government control of nearly everything.

  40. Legality is not the only issue. If it were then we could just change our laws, declare all humans everywhere eligible for residence, and all problems would be solved. Having laws mainly so there can be a distinction between the law-abiding and law-flaunting states is an interesting concept that I would hope not to see applied by jurisidictions I’m part of.

    My thanks to all who shared their thoughts regarding these Utah laws and the role of the Church in immigration policy.

  41. Mark B.,

    In fact, what makes you think that they’re “taking” at all? They work, they pay rent, they buy groceries, they pay taxes, their economic activity spurs a whole lot of other economic activity, they work lousy jobs in horrid conditions, and then people like you complain that all they do is take?

    What makes me think they’re taking? Well, their kids are educated at taxpayer expense, they use the ER like a walk-in clinic and we foot that bill too. What about food stamps and other subsidies we provide because an anchor baby (no offense, but it’s an apt term) qualifies them?

    Sure, they pay rent. At below-average rates, often for subsidized housing, and they live about three families to an apartment. Any income tax we get can’t amount to much because of the cheap labor you laud (another side to this argument that nobody wants to touch; this is de facto slavery).

    So where is this huge economic contribution? Exactly what “economic activity” are you talking about? Sales tax?

    So seriously, bring some real numbers to the table. Do the magic math for me, because here on the streets, it the argument that their presence is a net gain doesn’t hold water.

    John M., I appreciate your attention to the legislative and church endorsement aspects of this issue. I’ve tried to contribute positively to that discussion.

  42. If we had flat sales and income taxes (no exemptions, no deductions) we could sustain much higher levels of immigration without putting the future of the country at risk. Of course, popular sentiment is doing a bang up job of putting the future of the country at risk either way.

  43. I meant to say “state and federal income taxes”. It is the welfare state, including highly progressive taxation that makes high levels of immigration economically unsustainable.

  44. The term “anchor baby” is offensive, Tossman, and if you can’t see past your own biases well enough to recognize that, then here’s a brief primer:

    *The term is only used by those on the anti-immigration side of the debate. That should give you a clue that it’s not a neutral term.

    *It’s a helluva lousy anchor–a child can’t petition for his/her parents until 21 years old, and the parents would be unable to adjust status if they didn’t have a legal entry.

    *It reduces a child (a child of God I might add) to an ugly metaphor.

    But if you want to keep using the term, go ahead. It says more about you than about them.

    What evidence do you have of the use by immigrants of Emergency Rooms? Or is just another canard raised by the anti-immigrant crowd? Food stamps? Are non-citizens eligible? Don’t think so.

    Subsidized housing? How do you know? Are non-citizens, non-legal residents entitled to apply for housing subsidies? Or is just one more invention to make the anti-immigrant crowd feel good about the antipathy they feel toward their fellow human beings?

    As to economics, all the rent paid by immigrants goes to landlords, who use that money to acquire and maintain property and to buy other goods and services. And all the labor they perform creates value, for their employers and contracting parties, and those others use that money to buy goods and services. One doesn’t measure economic effect simply by adding up tax revenue.

    As to “slavery”–there’s no excuse for the exploitation of labor by American employers. But the current state of the law creates the conditions where exploitation thrives.

  45. Mark B., this will be the last post from you I’ll address. I’ve made it extremely clear that I am not “anti-immigration,” so I’d appreciate it if you’d stop playing that card with me.

    I refuse to go any further with you on the economic front. The law is on my side, so the burden of proof of the economic impact on illegal immigration is on you and those who seek to justify it.

    Anchor babies (or children of God being used by their parents to skirt the laws of a sovereign country) are where most of the cost goes. That’s their ticket to welfare here.

    I don’t believe your claim that border security, which is almost non-existent, is the real financial bogeyman.

    Again I ask, who makes a better neighbor- the immigrant who respects United States sovereignty and comes here legally with dreams of becoming a U.S. citizen? Or the one who doesn’t?

  46. You may be on the side of the law, Inspector Javert. But that has nothing to do with economics. Here’s an article that suggests that the economic effect is essentially a wash, and that any economic detriment is outweighed by the billions being dumped down the enforcement rathole:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/05/07/the_cost_of_immigration_enforcement_105490.html

    And $15 billion a year is a lot to pay for “almost non-existent” border security.

    As to your final question, the answer is: who knows? Was Bernie Madoff, a citizen of the U.S., a better neighbor than the hardworking Mexican construction worker next door? I don’t think that immigration status is a very good indicator of good-neighborliness.

    And thanks for clarifying that you’re not anti-immigrant.

  47. Your using something from Center for American Progress as respectable analysis? Not sure who you would need to use as an argument, but not them. At least if you want to change any minds. They are as trustworthy for Conservatives as Fox News is to Liberals.

  48. Annegb, I think that’s unlikely. It’s definitely a hot-button term. Mark B. is correct that its use is often derogatory, and Latinos rightly take offense at it in that context. However, the concept of deliberately having having babies in the U.S. to reap the benefits of a citizen child is one they seem to openly embrace (at least in my experience).

  49. So, once the ad hominem is over, Tossman, would you care to point out where the analysis in that report fails?

    Or should we take your anecdotal evidence “at least in my experience” or the story of a few Chinese women having babies in the U.S. as proof of wider trends?

    As to “often derogatory”–I think we can safely presume that “anchor baby” is always derogatory when used by people claiming that they’re a problem.

    Besides, as I’ve pointed out a few dozen times, a U.S. citizen baby is a pretty lousy “anchor” on which to tie your family’s hopes for legal status in the U.S.

  50. So, once the ad hominem is over, Tossman, would you care to point out where the analysis in that report fails?

    No ad hominem here, Mark B. And no, I don’t care to analyze the report a) because the Center for American Progress doesn’t even pretend to be an objective source, and b) because anybody can frame an outcome by tweaking the variables.

    I’m always amused at how the white elite get more offended at terms like “anchor baby” than the people those terms are aimed at. I can walk down the street right now and have a more honest, frank, and useful conversation about illegal immigration with actual illegal immigrants than I can in the high and righteous bloggernacle.

    Besides, as I’ve pointed out a few dozen times, a U.S. citizen baby is a pretty lousy “anchor” on which to tie your family’s hopes for legal status in the U.S.

    Your definition of “anchor” is incorrect. Legal status isn’t necessarily the primary goal (they know their residency here isn’t really threatened). The citizen child is their anchor or foot in the door to U.S. services. The baby gets Medicaid, TANF, and food stamps and his/her family are the beneficiaries of it. It’s not a physical anchor as much as it is a financial one.

    Studies by groups on my side of the argument factor these costs into their analysis. Those on your side don’t. The variables are different, so quibbling over the outcomes is a waste of time.

  51. I can’t help but observe that Tossman seems to want to ignore any evidence he doesn’t agree with or that comes from what he thinks is a “suspicious source” but wants those who disagree to buy the “studies by groups on my side of the argument”

    Tossman, if you can’t find any common ground with the other side, why argue with them? You will not be able to make any progress in the argument without some common ground.

    And if you won’t look at and address the studies made by the other side, how can you find common ground?

    Without common ground you are wasting our time, — and yours.

  52. I can’t help but observe that Tossman seems to want to ignore any evidence he doesn’t agree with or that comes from what he thinks is a “suspicious source” but wants those who disagree to buy the “studies by groups on my side of the argument”

    I didn’t say CAP was a “suspicious source,” I said it was an nonobjective source that has always been unabashedly biased on this issue.

    Tossman, if you can’t find any common ground with the other side, why argue with them? You will not be able to make any progress in the argument without some common ground.

    Making progress in this argument is not my primary goal. My goal is to express my opinion on the matter, per John Mansfield’s solicitation in the blog post. I’m not trying to win anybody over. I could paste links to numerous studies that contradict Mark B’s CAP report, but it wouldn’t change your mind.

    By all means, Kent, if you have a little common ground you’d like to point me to, I’d be glad to meet you there.

  53. It’s true that the Center for American Progress has shown “bias” in its report by not including the costs of educating (and providing medical treatment to) U.S. citizens whose parents (one or both) may not have legal status. That “bias” of course follows current law–and what has been law since at least 1868.

    F(B)AIR, on the other hand, includes in its study all the costs of educating (and providing health care to) those citizens as a cost of illegal immigration–which is of course contrary to the law.

    But, set that aside for the time being. Because the cost of not educating those people is infinitely higher than the cost of educating them.

    What about the economic effect of all of those workers/consumers? Those numbers aren’t affected by CAP’s choice to exclude the cost of educating citizens from the calculation.

  54. I wish this discussion would get back to the specifics of the Utah law. Immigration discussions all seem the same to me, and it appears John M has raised some interesting issues worth exploring. I would love to hear more of Mark B’s thoughts on the Utah law, for example.

  55. Being a 5th Generation Arizonan living in Utah for the last two decades, I’ve watched the disintegration of my home state by the tsunami of illegal immigrants pouring in and through its borders. Mesa, my home town, when policed by a Chief whom was a member in good standing of PERF (Police Executives Research Forum), a self-proclaimed ‘progressive’ policing organization that favors general amnesty, is now known as “Mesaco”.Chris Burbank, the SLC Police Chief is also a member.
    The downtown area is a blight, the tax base of commercial interests have fled, and they now teeter on the edge of insolvency, which the recent economic downturn has exacerbated. The Hispanic dropout rate in school hovers around 57%. The African-American dropout rate is close to 51%. Being a high school teacher I have numerous opportunities to speak with Illegal immigrant students and their parents. Most want only to live and work in the US-and then someday-return home. The majority of parents do not want to assimilate. Their children, illegal or not, native-born or no, want to stay for the living is easy in the US. The cost of educating the Utah-born student -is $2500-$2900 per year. The cost of schooling an English ass Second Language learner is $5900 and upward.
    And who knows how many illegal immigrants are accessing services of both county and state. There must be a few or the ‘list makers’ would not have compiled their list. (By the way, the two subsequently fired for making and sending the said ‘list’ are protected from any action by both 1996 immigration laws, preventing retaliation against any
    officeholder revealing information pertaining to sanctuary cities.)
    With the passage of the four Utah laws (the GRAMMA law could qualify as an immigration law as it intended to circumvent the ’96 immigration federal laws and seal local and state care-receivers information) and the support their passage received from the LDS church, we should all be discussing exactly,how many illegal immigrants and their families we are willing to support Make that check out and I will be around to collect it with your tithing.

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