Latino Mormons speaking out against Mitt Romney’s position on immigration

As if Mitt did not have enough problems lately, here is a story on Fox News Latino about Hispanic Mormons speaking out against his policy on immigration. I found this especially interesting:

While stressing the Mormon faith’s historic connection to converting immigrants, Latino Mormons point directly to immigration stories in the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ recent statements against policies targeting immigrants. They also view Romney’s stance against proposals giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship as hypocritical since Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, who had five wives and 30 children, sought refuge in Mexico after passage of an 1882 law that barred polygamy.

“We view immigration as a God event,” said Ignacio García, a history professor at Brigham Young University and a Sunday school teacher at his Mormon ward. “The book says no one comes to the Land unless they are brought by God.”

Those stories in the Book of Mormon, Garcia said, give Hispanic Mormons a powerful religious argument to use, especially since most believe they are descendants of the Lamanites, an indigenous group in the Americas described in the Mormon sacred text. According to the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites lived in the present-day American Southwest, traveled south and face years of hardship, and are prophesized to eventually return to the Promised Land.

Read more:

Perhaps these are among the reasons the Church has taken a relatively moderate position on immigration?

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

51 thoughts on “Latino Mormons speaking out against Mitt Romney’s position on immigration

  1. “According to the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites lived in the present-day American Southwest, traveled south and face years of hardship, and are prophesized to eventually return to the Promised Land.”

    Oops! American Southwest? Well, for the record, we don’t know where they lived, but it was somewhere in the Americas.

  2. I don’t mind such issues being brought up by the media. However, I’d like to see if there are any Catholic Mayans who are fighting against Santorum for his stance on immigration. Or how about how Pres Obama has deported more immigrants than any other president – how do his Christian Hispanic followers feel about that?…The media should strive to be balanced on these things.

  3. This is a good thing for Romney. It gives him a chance to appeal to conservatives on an issue he’s solid on while showing that he’s not running as the Mormon candidate.

  4. It’s one of the few things that actually makes me less supportive of Romney. I’m ok with the flip flopper accusation (when running MA, you have to be pragmatic whatever your personal beliefs are). Ok with the individual mandate in MA (it’s relatively easy enough for people in a state to change their laws if they want). But when it comes to immigration rhetoric I don’t like where it takes the discussion.

    Reading between the lines, it’s clear he’s mostly in favor of business as usual, with a few tinkering around the edges and that he just plays a bit of right wing politics where it suits him. But I wish he’d take the opportunity to do something bold with immigration reform. Whether it’s sponsorship, posting a bond, english classes, etc. etc. we have to do something other than just telling people they can’t work here or we’ll end up with a permanent underclass for real. Not the kind the Democrats like to talk about. I’m ok with a boarder fence, btw, but it should be accompanied with expanded immigration options, as well as reform of the current system.

  5. “Latino Mormons” should remember that Mr. Romney IS in favor of them gaining LEGAL citizenship and members who hold temple recommends know one of the questions we are asked to qualify entrance into a HOUSE OF THE LORD goes something like this…Do you deal honestly with your fellowman? Is it honest of the “Latino” members to enter in this country without following the legalization process? Personally, I don’t want to pay their taxes (by force)…the government takes too much of my hard earned income (by force)already! If the Latino members want to quote the BOM then they should remember it also teaches us “the worker is worthy of his hire”. This includes paying his own taxes; not the rest of us paying theirs! Legalization!

  6. Kt, most Latinos don’t want you to pay their taxes either. They want to work hard and pay their own taxes. Unfortunately, it is the welfare state that forces you to pay their taxes, and we should oppose the welfare state, not immigrants. So, let’s agree on cutting the welfare state to near-zero but allowing immigrants to come. As for the temple recommend question, do you know what the Church’s position is on this issue? Illegal immigrants are given temple recommends if they want them. The Lord’s sense of national boundaries is a bit different than ours.

    Kt, I also must assume you know nothing about the legalization process. It is literally impossible for the vast majority of people in the world to get legal visas to get into the United States. If we were to massively increase legal visas, then the “illegal immigrant” problem would disappear. So, if you truly favor legalization you should favor immigration reform that allows people to easily get guest worker permits, but I am guessing you don’t favor that, so your position is inherently contradictory.

  7. I’m pretty sure Romney would be a moderate on immigration. He’s been a stake president, and I think that almost all these priesthood leaders at that level are very committed to Latino issues and moderate stances on immigration, since they form a huge percentage of new converts.

    He’s just playing to the base right now. But it’s good to be concerned. Romney is a flip-flopper, and he’s going to be flipping his flops when he becomes President. But will he be too ashamed to flip on immigration, because he flips on everything else? After all, he still has to think about getting reelected.

    On the other hand, Obama can’t seem to get the Dream Act passed or make any progress on the issue, even though he campaigned on it. A President Romney might be able to get it passed as part of some kind of plea bargain. A lot of times, only Presidents of opposing ideologies are actually capable of making progress on the issues they oppose. Only Democrats like Clinton can balance the budget. Only Republicans like Reagan can raise taxes.

    Romney is smart and pragmatic, and I also think he is sympathetic and good. But I don’t listen to anything he says on the campaign, because it’s all posturing, especially this hardline bit about immigration.

  8. Nate, very wise comment. I hope you’re right. But remember that Bush tried to do the right thing on immigration reform and was destroyed by a coalition of nativists. I will remain hopeful but skeptical.

  9. SR, I assume you are referring to the “God event” argument used in the OP. I would only point out that people can read the BoM many different ways, and it is possible to see why some people would read it that way. In Sunday school we were discussing that very phrase just last week, and it stood out to us. 2 Nephi 1:6 says:

    “Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.”

    I think this is a truly profound statement, and I don’t think we know exactly what it means, but you can understand why it would be important to a recent immigrant. Everybody reading this has ancestors who were immigrants at one point.

  10. Not exactly. I’m referring to the “your great grandfather did this, so you’re a hypocrite to have this opinion,” and the position that the God event interpretation justifies civil disobedience, along with the requisite baggage that anyone who disagrees is against God (an argument that I am well weary of in other applications as well,) especially considering that one of our Articles of Faith claims that we believe in being subject to rulers in sustaining the law.

  11. Yeah, the promised land is all of the Americas, including Mexico, so interpreting the scripture so it just refers to the USA is definitely a stretch.

  12. Yes, Romney is solid on this subject–he’s a total blockhead. The only hope is that he doesn’t really believe any of the horrid things he’s been saying on the subject.

    And there’s no reason to confuse “conservatism” with “nativism.”

  13. Hey All…have you read the book “No Apology” that Hughes wrote about Mitt?…You may want to give it a read…then you will know he isn’t a flip-flopper, he is “progressive”. stick to the issue at hand, “latino immigration”…Geoff, you take everything out of context. I do favor guest workers and so does Mitt Romney! I’d say more but as you have made perfectly clear when you said, ” I am guessing you”…that is exactly what you do…GUESS! I’m movin on:)

  14. Geoff, There were serious policy concerns with Bush’s immigration bill, and plenty of pragmatic reasons to oppose it. One needed not count him or herself among a “coalition of nativists” to have thought it was an unwise public policy. You are painting those who disagree with your preferred policy position with a very broad brush, and unfairly, I might add.

  15. To be honest, I find using special interest religion in political campaigns to be almost as offensive as using race and race-baiting (one might call this religion-baiting). Nothing in LDS scripture or theology supports their peculiar interpretation that nations must allow unrestrained or illegal immigration, or paths to citizenship once it has occurred.

    The LDS church’s statement on the matter specifically contradicts their own (see

    “As a matter of policy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discourages its members from entering any country without legal documentation, and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.”

    Also, regarding citizenship (from the same statement): “The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship.”

    A discussion of what responses to illegal immigration are appropriate is completely separate from the illegitimate attempt to imply certain outcomes are required by LDS scripture.

  16. I think Mitt has noted he would like to expand “legal” immigration. IOW, fix the system that just has not been fixed. Mitt is not interested in deporting millions of peaceful illegals. However, he wants them to get in line with the rest of everyone who wants in here. If we fix legal immigration, so it does not take a decade to get approved, it may encourage many to return to their homelands and return legally.

  17. The only way to “fix” immigration is to bring the supply of visas in line with the demand for visas. We are very, very far from this, unfortunately. As anybody who knows anything at all about economics will tell you, when you create a scarcity of an item (visas) and then make it illegal for people to move about as they wish, you create a black market (kind of like what you had in the Soviet Union, East Germany, etc). Illegal immigration is simply a black market solution to a market scarcity issue, and will always exist as long as the scarcity exists.

    Any solution that involves separating families and forcing people to “go home” to become legal is also a non-starter. (In many cases, the people involved were brought here when they were children and don’t even speak the language of their native country and don’t even have documents from their native country — this is why the DREAM act is basic common sense). And Mitt’s proposal for building a border fence along the Rio Grande (half of which is, uh, a river where farmers use the river to water their cattle) is incredibly stupid and is opposed by the landowners involved. So, Mitt’s solution also violates the property rights of thousands of peaceful people.

    Jana H, sorry, I was in Washington and spoke with congressional staffers during the immigration debate. The campaign carried out by talk radio to torpedo Bush’s immigration reform was nativist at its core. I was horrified to see the racism involved. You are certainly correct that the bill was not perfect, and we have learned from Obamacare and Dodd-Frank that such huge bills done in secret are very problematic. So I will cede that point. We should probably never do another immigration reform bill in that way again. However, the same people who supposedly hated it because it was a huge secret bill also oppose the DREAM act, which is a limited bill to solve a much smaller problem, so I hope we can see what is motivating the opposition.

    John Miles, decent points.

  18. It should be noted, regarding this conversation, that there are no solutions to the immigrant problem. This is an unsolvable problem, like the problem of the poor. As Jesus said, “The poor you always have with you.”

    What we have now (with the addition of the Dream Act and some other minor reforms) is probably the best we can do. We can’t make the path to citizenship too easy, or we will be overrun. As God says in the Book of Mormon, “it must needs be this land is kept from the knowledge of other nations, or it would be overrun.”

    And we can’t be too hardline, because we actually need immigrants economically, and anti-immigrant policies can easily become cruel and inhumane. As cruel as we can be, we still can’t be cruel enough to overcome the motivation to escape from the terrible situations back home.

    So what we have now is actually good. It works…about as well as it could. It needs to be tweaked a little, that’s all. Add the Dream Act and create a difficult, bureaucratic path to citizenship for those already here, and I think we’ve solved all there is to solve of the problem.

  19. Nate, as a fallback that would be better than some of the idiotic “solutions” that have been proposed, like border fences, national ID cards and making people who have been here 15 years go “home.” However, I would still like to see the bureaucratic process become easier for citizenship and residency, and I would like to see us hand out a LOT more work visas.

    Being “overrun” is simply not as much of a concern as it was years ago. If you look at worldwide demographics, and look at the sorry state of our economy compared to other economies worldwide, there simply is not the same desire to come to the US as there was even five years ago. This is why illegal immigration is way down lately. But if we were to do the following:

    1)Dream act
    2)Ten times as many work visas
    3)Easier path to residency and citizenship for people in the US

    We would get closer to a sane, effective immigration policy.

  20. The only way to “fix” immigration is to bring the supply of visas in line with the demand for visas.

    Geoff, all else equal, this is like saying the only way to fix the the stealing problem is to bring the supply of welfare benefits in line with the demand for welfare benefits.

    Moral duty and obligation aside, the United States is the sovereign property of the citizens of the United States. As property, it is up to the proprietors to choose how to manage it, including (if they have an expansive welfare system, such as free public education) how many people they choose to share the franchise with, on what terms, under what schedule, and timing.

    The existence of free education, free medical care, infrastructure established and defended at enormous cost, and a tax system where those in the first quartile pay next to nothing means that far more than in past generations, the allowance of immigration has an enormous gift character to it. No one has a natural right to a gift.

    If we want to have free and open borders again, the solution is very simple. Repeal the welfare state. As long as we are not going to repeal the welfare state (including public education), we cannot have open borders without committing national suicide. And we seem to be doing that quite well enough in fiscal terms already.

  21. Geoff, I agree with your comments.

    People need to realize how broken and corrupt the process to immigrate to this country is. Unless you are very well off and can afford the thousands of fees, or work for a multinational or happened to have the luck to fulfill the need for a company and that company claims you, then you just might be able to immigrate to this country legally and gain residency, or marry an American.

    Now how and who can enjoy those benefits? For the most part the very well off, leaving behind the vast majority of immigrants who don’t qualify in any of the above circumstances.

    And that’s not even considering the number of Visas granted to each nation vs. the need for them.

    That’s why I literally giggle when I hear people say and ask for all 11 million immigrants to self-deport, make the line and enter the country legally. Really!? This ordeal is much more complex then that. We are talking about families that have lived here for over 15-20 years, whose kids were raised here, at no fault of their own. (Which leads me to the Dream Act, a very reasonable and humane way to grant a path to citizenship.. yet even that it’s hitting a wall)

    I baptized about a dozen illegal immigrants while serving. Hearing their stories on how and why they migrated to this country, their circumstances and how they found the Gospel was just a testimony builder. Today, Many are serving in branch presidency’s and other stake callings in Idaho. I taught many illegal immigrants who helped built The Rexburg temple. Missionary work in spanish work increased, and it was embraced. They were and are fulfilling prophecy (as mentioned by area authorities and other leaders in the mission).. That by itself echos and connects some of the dots mentioned in the article. Whether you agree with that or not it’s more of a personal opinion, I’m stating what I lived and heard from leaders in the church.

    Yes the Immigration system needs to be fixed. To ask for Self-Deportation and supporting the Dream Act only if they serve the military goes against what, in my opinion, the Church expects. There is a reason why Elder Holland rallied for in-state tuition for Illegal Immigrants in Utah, and why Elder Jensen has intervened and rallied for human passages of laws tours illegal immigrants in Utah. There is a message the church sends with those acts.And acts are louder then words.

  22. We would not have to worry about being overrun if we did not have the welfare state to the degree we do, and did not have an entitlement to the welfare state that we have, and if people relied on their family and neighbor (church, charity, etc) first for help when they needed it.

    Everywhere I look I see our problems resulting from two things: human nature (our failings) and government interference creating perverse outcomes. We add system after system of government to “correct” or fix problems that are the result of our human failings, without realizing that our failings will make whatever governmental fix we desire even worse. So we add another system, and tweak another layer, and further screw up the social balance.

    We recognize we can’t achieve a utopia or Zion by governmental fiat and then proceed to try to balance the scales as best as we can to achieve a faux-Zion where the outcomes are as ideal as possible. — only to get upset and demand more change when the outcomes aren’t ideal.

    Changed hearts will change society. Persuasion and long suffering, and personal conversion will do that. If God can part the Red Sea, and make possible both the occurrences in and coming forth of the Book of Mormon he can change hearts if we trust him and focus on persuasion and being united in one voice — the voice of the spirit.

    Or we can bicker about policies and pragmatism (guilty as charged) and assume that only if we just shift the balance of votes enough in our favor then, -finally then- will we be able to enact “the right kind” of laws that will make society in God’s image.

  23. “We add system after system of government to “correct” or fix problems that are the result of our human failings, without realizing that our failings will make whatever governmental fix we desire even worse.”

    Usually we add system after system of government to “correct” the prior failures of government. Our problems with health care are directly attributable to past government failures. Our problems with the banking system and housing are directly attributable to too much government interference in these sectors. And so on.

    It seems like we all agree that immigration would be much less of a problem if we got rid of the welfare state. We have a solution!

  24. I often see Libertarian defenders of unfettered immigration wave away concerns about welfare benefits by saying “If you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state, then get rid of the welfare state.” And I actually agree, somewhat, although I am concerned for the political consequences of “electing a new people” who are not culturally disposed to free markets.

    But you and I both know that there is nothing like a political consensus to get rid of the welfare state, and won’t be for some time. But there IS apparently something like a political consensus to restrict immigration, so if your policy preference looks something like this:

    (Free Immigration + no welfare state) > (Restricted Immigration + Welfare state) > (Free Immigration + Welfare State)

    then doesn’t it make sense to push for greater restriction of immigration under the present circumstances? Especially since the “Free Immigration/No Welfare State” option is a pipe dream?

  25. I am not in favor of the complete repeal of the welfare state. If we did have a more moderate welfare state, it would be easier to sustain a higher level of immigration without serious budgetary problems. All previous major waves of immigration, except the most recent (1960 to the present) occurred during an era when federal government activity in the social welfare business somewhere between minimal and non-existent. Welfare, as such, was largely in private hands.

    Where as it is now, applying for immigration is like applying for adoption. As long as we are going to have a world where new immigrants do not (on average) carry something resembling the marginal cost of their government support, unrestrained immigration will (for better or worse) have two primary effects: It will make the United States much more like a third world country, in economic terms, and it will make the United States much more like a third world country, in political terms.

    So assuming that it is somewhat of a reasonable aspiration not to regress economically and politically, the question is what level of immigration is a reasonable balance between the public interest of those who are already here and a reasonable desire to accommodate those who wish to immigrate.

    About the only other reasonable option is to adopt a system with the following properties: Issuance of guest worker visas practically on demand, differential tax code for guest workers sufficient to cover the marginal cost of government support and infrastructure, and an end to birthright citizenship.

    In other words, remove the government welfare character from guest worker programs, and the automatic grant of the franchise to their children born here, and in principle we could sustain a nearly arbitrary number of foreign guests, and it would be a net positive all around.

  26. “some of the idiotic ‘solutions’ that have been proposed, like border fences, national ID cards and making people who have been here 15 years go ‘home.'”

    Geoff, must you refer to people you disagree with as “idiotic”? I think there has been plenty of non-idiotic commentary by people who favor restricting immigration on this blog. If you are unable to even see how a non-idiot could be skeptical of mass immigration, I suggest you take a step back and examine your ideological bias a bit.

    If it’s only the instrumentality you find idiotic, i.e., that a border fence would never “work”, then why was the Berlin Wall such an affront to freedom? After all, only an idiot would believe that a border wall would work to reduce immigration.

  27. MC, I must refer to people who disagree with me as “idiotic” on this particular issue because I find their arguments nonsensical. The East German border wall was considerably shorter than our 2,000-mile border, and it involved massive expenditures by the East German government, with towers every mile, dogs, searchlights, checkpoints manned by armed guards, machine-gun nests, etc, etc. If this is what you want in the United States, sorry, you are an idiot.

    There is a much less idiotic argument to be made for more modern fences with motion detectors, electronic monitoring, etc, and to be fair, this is what most non-idiotic people (like Mark D, to name one) have argued for. This is still a very, very bad idea because we are a free country and should not have to resort to fences ever for any reason. And we still deal with the property rights issue — nobody along the border actually favors the fence, which is one reason the otherwise idiotic Rick Perry was smart enough to oppose it during his short-lived campaign. The joke in south Texas is that if you build a 10-foot fence you will see a booming market for 12-foot ladders, and of course this is also very true. Again, supply and demand rules the day.

    A national ID card is an idiotic affront to personal liberties, and the idea that you should send people who were taken to the U.S. when they were two years old back to their “country of origin” after they have lived in the U.S. for 15 years is also idiotic, so I will stick by such a description.

    I will agree that some immigration restrictions have made some decent arguments, especially John Miles and Mark D, both of whom I respect immensely but simply disagree with strongly on this particular issue. They know I don’t think they are idiots. 🙂

  28. Geoff, I of course have a response to your comments, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the points made by Mark D. in 23 and 28. I’d like to see your response to those points.

  29. Geoff, #7:

    “Kt, most Latinos don’t want you to pay their taxes either. They want to work hard and pay their own taxes.”

    I can attest to the fact that they want to (and do) work hard, but I’ve seen no indication whatsoever that they want to pay their own taxes. I deal with illegals on a daily basis, and the general attitude is overwhelmingly one of apathy and entitlement.

  30. Tossman, Mark D’s #23 is a false comparison. The illegal immigration problem is better compared to the drug problem than anything else. Both involve resolving a black market issue involving supply and demand. And as we learned with Prohibition, trying to prevent the importation of Canadian whiskey, Colombian cocaine or Mexican people simply doesn’t work. All is does is benefit the bad guys (coyotes and drug and alcohol dealers) while hurting the innocent. Where there is demand there will always, always, always be supply. If you don’t believe this you should move to North Korea.

    There might be elements of Mark D’s proposal in #28 I could agree with. He makes some decent points. If we had a “grand bargain” on immigration along the lines of what I propose in #22, you could pass a law getting rid of the “anchor baby” problem and also prevent recent immigrants from getting welfare benefits. But you would also need to accept an increase in immigration and something like the DREAM act as part of that bargain, and I don’t think immigration restrictionists are willing to do that.

  31. Tossman, #32, I think we have had this discussion in the past, and I simply must disagree. I also deal with “undocumented workers” on a daily basis, and they have no problem with paying taxes as part of the bargain of becoming part of US society. I hate paying taxes a lot more than they do. I would be willing to bet you $10,000 right now that I have dealt with at least five times as many Latino immigrants as you have over the years (keep in mind I have been traveling to Latin America for nearly 30 years now and was married to a Latina for many years). The sense of entitlement you claim simply does not exist among most immigrants — they come here to work and better themselves, just as most immigrants have done for hundreds of years.

  32. Geoff, First- I do not equate latino with illegal immigrant, so I don’t consider the fact that you have spent time in Latin America and were married to a Latina germaine to the argument. Only your dealings with illegal immigrants are relevant here.

    Second, I don’t equate illegal immigrant with immigrant. I agree that most immigrants have come here to better themselves. I believe most illegal immigrants come out of desperation but stay for the handout (yes, they have ways of benefitting from our welfare state).

    Finally, there are some geographical and cultural differences with the illegal immigration phenomenon. I can only speak to my own experiences, which lead me to the conclusion I stated.

    Don’t get me wrong- I find their sense of entitlement no greater than that of the current generation of American youg people. In fact I find the social conservatism and family values of all Latino immigrants quite refreshing. I just don’t buy- based on my own experiences- the claims that they want to a) really become part of US society, or b) fully pay their own way.

  33. The reason that being married to a Latina is relevant is that in general Latinos have big families, and various cousins, friends, even brothers and sisters were/are illegal. So, there is some relevance there. In addition, you may or may not know I was a reporter covering the illegal immigration situation in Miami for many years, so I have interviewed literally dozens of undocumented people over the years. Finally, I am a fluent Spanish speaker and have had several callings dealing with immigrants (including home teacher, where I am home teaching a family of immigrants right now). I find the regional differences minimal — a Cuban immigrant in Miami is very similar to a Mexican immigrant in Colorado in the way they approach immigration. And they are very similar to, say, an Italian immigrant 100 years ago. Bottom line: people come here because they want a better life. Most people are willing to work but also willing to take “free stuff” from the government if the government is willing to hand it out. The solution is for the government to stop handing it out.

  34. I definitely side with Geoff on this issue. Most illegal immigrants would jump at the chance to become legal residents, provided there isn’t some ridiculous/untenable requirement to “go home first and wait in line”. Ultimately, I’m hopeful that Americans are generous and have a big enough heart to realize that breaking up families and deporting, or causing the “self-deportation” of, millions of good people who have kept their noses clean here for years.

  35. “MC, I must refer to people who disagree with me as “idiotic” on this particular issue because I find their arguments nonsensical. The East German border wall was considerably shorter than our 2,000-mile border, and it involved massive expenditures by the East German government, with towers every mile, dogs, searchlights, checkpoints manned by armed guards, machine-gun nests, etc, etc. If this is what you want in the United States, sorry, you are an idiot.”


    Somehow I don’t think you are really sorry. The high-end projected cost of a double set of steel fences across the entire border is about $50 Billion, or in other words, the amount of money the federal government spends in 4 days:

    For something that has such a profound impact on the composition of our nation and economy, I’d say that’s a bargain. Does a fence need machine gun nests to have an impact on immigration? The Israeli border fence has greatly reduced the flow across the border, and it only cost $2 Million per kilometer to build, which with similar construction costs would mean about $6.5 Billion to cover our entire border:

    Of course, there’s no need to engage the facts on this issue, since I’m just an “idiot.” Nice to know that in a libertarian world, every man, woman and child will be free to engage in ad hominem “arguments.”

  36. MC, I can’t take such arguments seriously. They go against everything I believe we stand for as a nation. I have listed the many argument against, none of which you have engaged (taking from private landowners, the fact that people can still use ladders to get over the fence or go under, the fact that half of the border is a river used to water cattle, the fact that immigration is a supply and demand issue). I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. Yeah, probably not a good idea to engage in ad hominems, and for that I’m sorry. Have a nice day.

  37. Geoff,

    I’m fine with agreeing to disagree. Let me just point out that I did address your argument that a fence wouldn’t work by pointing out that the Israeli fence has worked extremely well at keeping people out:

    We don’t need to speculate as to ladders and hole digging. We have actual data showing that fences work. Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel are a fraction of what they were. If Muslim terrorists have a hard time getting through the fence, I’m going to wager that less highly-motivated people will find it even more difficult. I take well your argument that the fence is unamerican, but that has nothing to do with whether we build a real fence or the “virtual” kind that you seem to find less offensive.

    And I appreciate your apology.

  38. MC, your comparisons to East Germany and Israel are extremely problematic. East German was a totalitarian state trying to keep its people IN. Israel is literally surrounded by countries that have at one time declared war on it, and it still exists in a state of near-war with all of them. (To give one example, Egypt tacitly encourages the Palestinians to attack Israel despite the fact that Egypt supposedly is at peace with Israel). Meanwhile, the United States has been at peace with Canada and Mexico for more than 160 years.

    Northern Mexico is very violent — no doubt. But the violence is, with a few exceptions, contained to Mexico. The people coming into the United States are overwhelmingly peaceful seekers of employment. There is simply no way you can compare them to Palestinian terrorists and have any kind of fruitful discussion. Just to use one small example, El Paso, TX, where I travel on business often, is the safest large city in the United States.

    If we were dealing with violence in the U.S. caused by Mexican terrorists, the comparison to Israel might make some sense. But we are not. We are dealing with violence contained to Mexico caused by Mexicans fighting with each other over the drug trade. Meanwhile, the other side of the border where you want to build a fence remains incredibly safe.

    So, the need for a fence is contradicted by the facts. The only possible reasonable purpose for a fence would be to keep peaceful Mexican and Central Americans out of the United States. I have already pointed out that a fence will not work unless it is highly militarized. Just building a fence does no good because people will obviously go over and under it. So, you need tens of thousands of troops. There are property issues and there is opposition from the people who actually live along the border.

    But there is another issue that bears discussion. I must speak out against this idea that fences and other measures somehow make us more secure. This the same mindset that has brought us the TSA and thinks that public security cameras are a great idea. You cannot have a 100 percent secure society, nor should we expect or want one. People in East German were very secure, but their security came at the expense of their liberty. Such an idea — that the United States should build walls with our peaceful neighbors — is abhorrent to the very idea of what America stands for.

  39. MC, I actually don’t have a terrible problem with a border fence, especially if it would allow reason & compassion to prevail when it comes to increasing legal immigration.

    But pointing out a small fence can work is pretty different then a 2000 mile fence. Scalability is a factor, and the logistics of making that 2000 mile fence work, let alone actually building it, would be a wonder of the world. A strange about-face for a nation that not too long ago has a statue welcoming people on to its shores and is now following in the footsteps of ancient China in building nation-wide walls to keep others out.

    If I think about what kind of nation I would prefer America to be, it’s one with a statue of Liberty facing in the direction of incoming immigrants than a wall manned with cameras, aerial drones, and motion sensors and backed up by people with guns to keep them out.

  40. “MC, your comparisons to East Germany and Israel are extremely problematic. East German was a totalitarian state trying to keep its people IN.”

    That’s precisely why the example is NOT problematic. I assume you use locks to keep the uninvited out of your home; do you consider them to be the moral equivalent of a lock used to imprison someone wrongfully? Of course not! But if a certain model of door had been shown to be effective at holding prisoners, the least you could say about it is, “This would probably be effective at keeping out intruders as well.” There would be nothing morally problematic about that comparison.

    “If we were dealing with violence in the U.S. caused by Mexican terrorists, the comparison to Israel might make some sense. But we are not. We are dealing with violence contained to Mexico caused by Mexicans fighting with each other over the drug trade. Meanwhile, the other side of the border where you want to build a fence remains incredibly safe.”

    Tell that to this lady:

    Or these guys:

    I understand that you think the U.S. has no moral standing to impose any restrictions on immigration whatsoever. I disagree. Given that disagreement on first principles, we are bound to weight the evidence of the harms and benefits of recent and future immigration differently. I think that many of our current problems (stagnant wages, growth of the proportion of the population on government welfare and exhibiting social pathologies) are due to our immigration policy. But if you view any restriction of immigration as illegitimate, no amount of evidence would convince you otherwise. Nor should it! If immigration restriction is wrong in se, then no empirical evidence of its demerits should matter very much.

  41. I am generally against immigration restrictions, but I wouldn’t say that I believe the U.S. has “no moral standing to impose any restrictions on immigration whatsoever.” I have stated above (look at #22) a good compromise plan, which would still impose some restrictions on immigration. That would be better than our current situation. MC, I gotta say that if you are going to cherry-pick the occasional violent act along the border and ignore the empirical evidence that El Paso is the safest big city in the country, there really is no reason to continue to have a discussion with you. The border has been a lot more dangerous in other historical times (ever heard of Zapata?). As I say, we are simply going to have to agree to disagree. Peace.

  42. Geoff,

    You engage is some cherry-picking yourself when your only evidence that the border is safe is to cite the crime statistics in one city, let alone a city with a U.S. military base, in a state with strong gun rights protections and plentiful executions. But if you’d like broad-based evidence, here are the figures from Pew:

    This tidbit stands out:

    “In 2007, more than half (56%) of all Latino offenders were sentenced in just five of the nation’s 94 U.S. district courts. All five are located near the U.S.-Mexico border: the Southern (17%) and Western (15%) districts of Texas, the District of Arizona (11%), the Southern District of California (6%), and the District of New Mexico (6%).”

  43. As a Mormon Latina, I could never vote for Mitt Romney. He is against me, so I am against him. It is ironic that he wants our votes, but if it were up to him, I wouldn’t have a vote in the first place.

  44. MC, any statistician knows that statistic is meaningless without context. That doesn’t mean that crime rates are higher near the border, or that illegal immigrants are the cause if they are.

  45. LDSP,

    I wasn’t arguing based on that stat alone. If you read the entire article, illegal immigrants are accountable for 29% of all federal crimes, and the vast majority of those occur near the border. Even if you sort out immigration crimes, they’re accountable for, at the very minimum, 10% of all non-immigration federal crimes. Since illegal immigrants are only one in thirty people in the U.S., I’d say that’s disproportionate.

    By the way, since we’re all citing El Paso as the high-immigration low-crime paradise, it bears mentioning that it is a city with only 3% African Americans:

    Seems relevant…

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