LDS Immigration Policy an Issue in Arizona Senate Race, or “The Case Against Russell Pearce”

The following guest post comes from Brent Ellsworth, an Arizona attorney, and author of  “The Case Against Russell Pearce.”

Mitt Romney is not the only LDS candidate receiving national media attention this election cycle.

Russell Pearce is also on the media “watch” list.  Pearce is one of two LDS candidates for an open state senate seat in the Arizona primary on August 28.  His opponent is Bob Worsley, founder of SkyMall, who is seeking his first elected office.

Pearce was the moving force behind the passage in 2010 of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, the first state law to enact “enforcement only” provisions to address the problem of undocumented immigrants at the state level.  The stated objective of such legislation is to make life so unbearable for undocumented immigrants that they will voluntarily leave and return to their countries of origin.  “Attrition through enforcement.”  Pearce also attracted national attention when in November 2011, while President of the Arizona State Senate, he was removed from office in a humiliating and controversial recall election.

Pearce and Worsley are locked in a tight race, and the tension is palpable among neighbors, friends, and even family members, who have split political loyalties.

Pearce claims LDS officials have endorsed his “enforcement only” immigration efforts, a claim the church has refuted.

Pearce also professes full support and agreement with the policy statement of the LDS Church on immigration issued in June 2011, though he adamantly opposes any efforts to enact laws that would permit undocumented immigrants to remain in this country under any circumstance.  The church statement includes, among other things, an admonition to lawmakers to seek “an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work . . . without this necessarily leading to

Pearce sees no conflict in his bipolar contention that he fully supports the LDS policy on immigration, while at the same time he denounces as “amnesty” any attempt to permit undocumented immigrants to remain in this country  and “square themselves with the law.”

I find those two positions to be antithetical.

In my opinion, LDS politicians and church members who claim these two positions are compatible are either disingenuous or delusional.

The current Pearce race is certainly colorful, with the recent release of old Pearce e-mails which compare Hispanic immigrants to “lepers fleeing a leper colony,” and the Pearce statement following the Aurora, Colorado, shootings that the victims could have done more to minimize the damage caused by the shooter –  “[H]ad someone been prepared and armed they could have stopped this ‘bad man’ from most of this tragedy . . .  All that was needed is one Courages/Brave (sic) man prepared mentally or otherwise to stop this.”

For my detailed argument against the reelection of Russell Pearce, see “The Case Against Russell Pearce” at:

96 thoughts on “LDS Immigration Policy an Issue in Arizona Senate Race, or “The Case Against Russell Pearce”

  1. Many Republicans like Pearce have had an extremely unfortunate position on immigration for many years now. Interestingly, immigration is way down because of the economy, and this issue is not as central as it was a few years ago. I hope the Republican position “evolves” to a legalization rather than enforcement-based position in the years ahead.

  2. Pearce is betting any of his remaining political capitol (I doubt he has any left), on the issue of immigration. With a shift on immigration and a defeat with SCOTUS on his signature legislation, SB1070, Pearce is suddenly bringing up other issues.

    He is a snake in the grass and someone I believe will do or say anything to get back into public office. Ellsworth’s “The Case Against Russell Pearce” explains these lengths and presents a compelling and cogent argument as to why Pearce should not hold public office.

    I could go on about Pearce, but it’s not worth getting wrapped up around the axle so early in the morning. 🙂

    Great post, Brent!!

  3. Of course his position on immigration enforcement isn’t compatible with the church’s position. The church doesn’t like immigration laws and doesn’t want anyone to enforce them either.

  4. This is the district I grew up in, and started voting in. I’m happy to say I never voted for old Russell. However, my parents still live there, and last year during the re-call of Russell, it was NASTY! My parents supported Jerry Lewis, and they support Bob Worsely now. So many ward and family members who supported Pearce, were rude, abusive and down right mean about this whole thing. If that doesn’t tell you what kind of politician Russell Pearce is I don’t know what will. I ask anyone living in LD 25, to vote for Bob, and for the Pearce supporters to back down and to be nice. It’s the choice of the indivudual who they vote for, no need to get mean and nasty about it.

  5. I am oversimplifying to be sure. However, it is clear that the church does not want current immigration laws to be enforced, on the grounds that deporting existing illegal immigrants or encouraging them to leave is not in keeping with their status as children of God.

    It is also clear that the church wants current law to be changed so that all existing illegal immigrants are legalized. What is not clear is what the church proposes to do with those who arrive illegally the day after that.

    If enforcing the immigration laws means such unkind treatment as not allowing illegal immigrants to gain lawful employment, it seems reasonably clear that the implication of the church position is that immigration laws are by and large immoral and unjust. Kinder gentler enforcement won’t do if the law is unkind in the first place.

  6. Mark D, there is another conclusion, which is that the Church by implication supports a path to legalization, which has been supported by Republicans from Reagan to Bush to McCain and is still supported by some brave Republicans like Marco Rubio. It seems that is where we should concentrate our efforts. I don’t think comprehensive immigration reform is possible, but small steps could take place, for example supporting Rubio’s bill (a modified DREAM act) and increasing the number of visas for temporary workers and for skilled immigrants. These common sense steps would go a long way toward improving the situation.

  7. Mark D., I saw the Church’s position as one that sought to keep families together, versus the current laws that tear families apart. In many instances, the parents or a parent is deported while the children, who are often U.S. citizens, are left behind.

  8. Geoff B, if you mean a path to legalization that applies to all illegal immigrants past, present, and future, I agree that is something that the church would like to see.

    There is no real distinction between “legalization” and “path to legalization” however. If someone who immigrates here illegally is allowed to stay here legally, that is legalization.

    One could just as well announce that there is no such thing as illegal immigration, just additional fees for those do not arrive through recommended channels. The position of the church does not appear to be consistent with anything less.

  9. Brian D, I understand, though I am not aware of any countries that refuse admission to the minor children of their own citizens.

  10. The problem is that our immigration policies are broken (along with Medicare, Medicaid, SS, and most other programs). Illegals are caught in a Catch 22, as well as business owners, legal immigrants, etc.

    We are a nation of immigrants. Immigration control to the extent we now have it is a fairly recent phenomenon. We used to only check for illnesses and a few other things before letting someone enter. Now we use almost any excuse to keep them out through legal means, but fumble on those here illegally.

  11. Mark D., the problem is not foreign entities not admitting children. The issue is children being left behind in the U.S. when only the parents are deported. There are a lot of situations where the children are U.S. citizens by virtue of being born in the U.S., and the parents are undocumented immigrants.

  12. Brian D, there is no excuse for parents to ever leave their children behind, not is there any need for them to. A family with children left behind is a self inflicted condition.

  13. Although the general debate about immigration is important, my main point is to argue that a “no amnesty, enforcement only” approach is contrary to the current LDS church policy on immigration. I have no problem with someone disagreeing with the church position, but I believe it is inconsistent to say you fully support the church position and then fight against any resolution that will permit undocumented immigrants to remain here under any circumstance.

  14. On the contrary. Such a split is self inflicted because the only reason for it to continue is if the parents do not send for their children, which they have every legal right and responsibility to do.

    Of course if a citizen marries someone here illegally, and the person here illegally gets deported, it gets trickier. In that case, the only way for the family to stay together is for the citizen spouse to apply to immigrate to his/her spouse’s home country. Richer poorer, in sickness and in health, right?

  15. Unlike Pearce, former AZ State Senator, Karen Johnson, a cohort of Pearce, vehemently disagrees with the LDS policy on immigration. She calls it “duplicitous and incompetent political meddling” that promotes “Marxist” policies and plays into the plan of the “radical Left” to create a borderless and classless world order. Johnson (I’m not kidding) believes the policy statement was drafted by some underling in the Church public relations department and must have been sneakily slipped by church leaders, who obviously approved its release without a full understanding they were being duped.

  16. The link above is to Senator Johnson’s article, “Where Did the LDS Church Go Wrong?” You may want to put on your tin foil hat before reading.

  17. While I absolutely disagree personally with Pearce’s position on immigration, I think he has a valid position, one many agree with.

    Pearce of course should be honest about whether his position contradicts official church statements. But he is also perfectly within his rights to disagree with the church’s statement. And Mormons don’t have to agree with every official church position. These positions change over time after all.

    Pearce’s problem is that his conservative LDS voting block labors under the delusion that they must always perfectly agree with official church opinion. So he has to try and spin things to make it seem like he is in total agreement with it.

    But as a politician, Pearce is forced to speak the language of the people. It is their problem, not his. If they disagree with the church on immigration, just admit it, and be OK with it. I disagree with the church on Prop 8, but I still love and sustain the church.

  18. Nate, I don’t think that anyone is saying that Pearce does not have a valid position. He is a politician and he takes a hard stand on immigration.

    I think the big take away for me from what Brent wrote here on M* and on his post on Scribd is that Russell Pearce is a liar and an opportunist who will say and do anything to get elected.

    What is most troubling to me, or perhaps among the most troubling aspects to Russell Pearce, is his racist emails. It bothers me that this man wants to hold a position of trust, one where he can introduce legislation that governs issues like immigration. Having worked in law enforcement, I think some of the provisions in SB 1070 were good tools for law enforcement to use when dealing with criminals who are also undocumented immigrants. Of course, when these harsh laws are applied to everyday immigrants who simply cross the border looking for a better life, it becomes problematic. There is not a good one-size-fits-all approach to enforcing immigration laws.

    I think you make a great point in your final paragraph. Unfortunately, Pearce wants to have it both ways: he wants the backing of the conservative Mormons, and the support of the non-Mormon voters.

  19. “Pearce’s problem is that his conservative LDS voting block labors under the delusion that they must always perfectly agree with official church opinion. So he has to try and spin things to make it seem like he is in total agreement with it.”

    Exactly. I’ve heard more members of the church try to deny the reality of the church’s statement than accept the church said it and simply say “I disagree with it.” It’s not just politicians–it’s anti-immigration types (or anti-illegal-immigration types, if I’m being politically correct) of all stripes who also happen to be LDS.

    The dishonesty is much worse than disagreement.

  20. Illegal immigration is causing all kinds of problems in many parts of Utah, even in what was once a low crime area – Southern Utah. Police here have recently found large plantations of marijuana, meth labs and in the daily police reports, a strong percentage of arrests are of illegals. Add to that, the hospitals are treating many illegals at no cost and a number our schools are now teaching bilingual classes in Spanish.

    When we lived in Mexico (for eight years), we had to go through many bureaucratic hoops every year, plus pay large mordidas (bribes) just to remain there as residents. Mexican laws re immigration are much tougher than ours and they strongly enforce their laws and deport anyone they find in the country illegally.

    I have not read the Church’s official position in a Church publication or proclamation on the matter, but one wonders whether or not the position, as cited above by posters is correct. If so, how is that related to Joseph Smith’s clear position, stated in the 12th Article of Faith re “obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.”

  21. Paul, anecdotal information that cannot be positively tied to undocumented immigrants does not do much to bolster your argument. Do you have solid proof that it is undocumented immigrants growing the marijuana and operating the meth labs in Utah? Do you realize that a high percentage of meth production takes place in Mexico? It is not cost effective to produce meth in the U.S. Additionally, are you aware that hospitals also treat U.S. citizens who cannot afford to pay for their coverage. And, what is wrong with bilingual education? I’m not seeing how that is a problem.

    The way that Mexico deals with its immigration should not be a guiding principle on how the U.S. deals with immigration. In fact, there is not a lot of incentive for Mexican citizens to remain in Mexico. I see little value in Mexico’s emphasis on illegal immigration when a larger problem exists with keeping people in Mexico.

    Using the 12th Article of Faith is a red herring, really, and not germane to the topic at hand. The discussion here is about a politician who uses lies and deception to obtain public office. Despicable, really, especially given his religious affiliation. Perhaps the focus here should be on the 13th Article of Faith and less on the 12th.

  22. While attending BYU I worked the graveyard shift at a grocery store in American Fork. Every night the independently contracted floor crew was there, cleaning, stripping and waxing who knows how many thousands of square feet. The guy who owned the business was an RM. The guys who did the work were all undocumented workers. They would receive a fixed amount for the job–IIRC about $100–and it was up to them to divvy it up as they saw fit, so of course they would try to get the job done as quickly as possible and with as few people as necessary. Still, it usually took at least three guys all night to get the job done.

    Two guys on the floor crew eventually managed to rustle up some paperwork and became store employees, also working the night shift. As their supervisor, it was a pleasure to work with them, especially compared to the usual parade of locals who would last for a night, a couple of weeks or even months before quitting or getting fired. The newly “documented” workers were always on time and worked hard.

    And everyone was happy–the Mormon business owner had higher profit margins, which no doubt allowed him to pay more tithing; the store got clean floors with minimal impact on its overhead, which kept the prices of Mormon home cooking low; the Mormon managers rejoiced over dependable employees that made them look good and helped qualify them for bonuses, and the workers were happy about their compensation.

    For all those who benefit from undocumented labor–at that is pretty much the whole community, depending on how pervasive the “problem” is–to happily pocket the savings while bellyaching about illegal immigration is, in my humble view, the pinnacle of hypocrisy.

  23. Brian,

    Wow! Anecdotal evidence! What do you need? The items re crimes committed by illegals were all published in the local and Utah news as the perpetrators were arrested and tried for their crimes. The Mexican marijuana growers were alleged members of a Mexican drug cartel and are going to prison for two years and deportation afterward.

    I know that hospitals treat others who are not illegals, but who really pays for it? Answer: US citizens whose hospital bills are escalating. Hospitals in California have closed due to the huge expenses of treating illegals.

    I brought up Mexico’s immigration policies and laws only as a contrast to the present administration’s failure to enforce Constitution-based immigration laws. That Mexico does nothing, nor will they do anything to stop the flow of their own citizens to the US, is obvious. Mexico is corrupt, top to bottom, and they are exporting corruption to us through open borders.

    Bilingual education is all about teaching illegals and children of illegals how to understand lesson material and get through school, but why should US citizens pay the additional costs of the program through property tax increases? Our property taxes continue to go up in spite of the economic recession we are in. And what about integration into our society if they continue to speak Spanish?

    The 12th Article of Faith is not a red herring as the article is also about illegal law-breakers as well as lying politicians. Church members should obey the laws of the land, even LDS politicians. I respectfully suggest you read D&C 98:4-6.

  24. Paul, there is a huge distinction between undocumented migrants and members of a cartel. You failed to draw a distinction in your first comment. It was more of a blanket statement implicating anyone who is undocumented as being a criminal, which I am sure you would not want to say.

    Again, this post is not about immigration itself, but to highlight and expose the hypocrisy of disgraced and former Senate President Russell Pearce.

    For the purposes of this conversation, the 12th AOF is a red herring. Even if we were to discuss it, I would invite you to read scriptures about compassion and treating others with dignity, something clearly lacking in Russell Pearce’s vocabulary.

  25. FWIW, we should probably mention (I don’t think it was) that Karen Johnson is also LDS.

    And Paul (who said “Bilingual education is all about teaching illegals and children of illegals how to understand lesson material and get through school”) my daughter is in bilingual education, as were her two older siblings. My family have been US Citizens for many generations (most recent immigrants were 2 of my great grandparents).

    IMO, if you don’t learn another language, you are not wise. Monolingualism can, should and, yes, must be cured.

    IMO, those bilingual students (legal or not) you sneer at are, other things being equal, better off than those who don’t study other languages.

  26. Paul, I would like to point out that all five of my children, and yes they are US citizens, will be getting bilingual education, and my two oldest already know three or four languages. From a practical standpoint, this is a great thing because it prepares them for missions and helps them have more skills in the workplace. The world is increasingly global — why should we not support integrating with the world rather than turning our backs on it?

  27. Geoff, speaking of red herrings, I don’t think Paul’s statement on bilingual education was a knock on the value of being able to communicate in different languages. I believe his point was that bilingual education discourages assimilation.

  28. Tossman, I can only go on what Paul said, which is:

    “Bilingual education is all about teaching illegals and children of illegals how to understand lesson material and get through school, but why should US citizens pay the additional costs of the program through property tax increases? Our property taxes continue to go up in spite of the economic recession we are in. And what about integration into our society if they continue to speak Spanish?”

    As I say, five of my kids have been or will be going through bilingual education and none of them is illegal, so the claim that bilingual education is “about teaching illegals and the children of illegals” is false. Nobody complains about taxes in general or property taxes more than I do, but if we are going to have a public school system, then spending money on bilingual education that educates people in more than one language is a good use of funds. In terms of integration in society, I would like to point out an interesting contrast. In much of Europe, the second generation exists in a complete bubble and very often does not learn the native language. So, it is possible to travel to Paris, as I did in June, and encounter young immigrants who do not speak a bit of French. However, this phenomenon simply does not exist among children in the United States. I have told this story several times, but in Little Havana, in the middle of a part of Miami that is 99 percent Hispanic, ALL OF THE KIDS play in English. Yes, ALL OF THE KIDS (including my Hispanic kids). So, frankly, the claim that bilingual education prevents assimilation is complete bunk. What it does is help kids maintain a bit of Spanish that they would otherwise lose. Talk to any kid whose parents are Hispanic, and unless their parents make a huge effort they can barely read and write Spanish, although they will be able to communicate with their Hispanic relatives.

  29. Geoff, I didn’t say that bilingual education prevented assimilation. At the very least, it does nothing to encourage it.

    I understand the importance of maintaining communications with one’s relatives and maintaining heritage in general, but it’s not my job as a taxpayer to finance that. So I take issue with whatever extent taxpayer-funded bilingual education is used for that purpose.

  30. Geoff and Kent,

    Geoff, I certainly did not imply that all illegals are criminals, but many are. A large percentage of criminals in jail are Latinos.

    I am certainly not against learning another language nor are my children (three of our children speak 3 and my son speaks 5 languages, but they learned them on site, overseas, not in school). I speak three languages and learned two of them them the hard way, by living overseas and being forced to learn the languages in order to communicate with the locals. In my experience, it is very hard to learn a language in school, but many immigrants may not try to assimilate if they insist on speaking Spanish at home, in school and with their friends.

    Kent: How do you imagine I sneered at bilingual students? I did not, but am opposed to paying the cost of such education.

    Tossman: A good and accurate comment. Thanks!

  31. I should add that while I am not the product of bilingual education, I do speak 3 languages, one of them Spanish. I do not discount the economic or cultural value of being able to communicate in different languages. I just don’t see how dealing bilingually with immigrants long term benefits either the immigrant or society on the whole.

  32. Tossman, I am not going to go around and around on this, but bilingual education (depending on the program) is *about educating people who would otherwise not receive such an education.* I cannot speak to bilingual education in Utah, but I can in Florida and Colorado, where my kids have gone through it. Here is what happens to a kid who is brought her at the age of 6 from Mexico or Central America and put in school: they immediately learn how to speak English, usually within six months of arriving they are nearly fluent. They learn how to read and write in English in their classes. They continue to communicate with their relatives in Spanish verbally *but they don’t learn how to read and write in Spanish.* So, we are raising an entire generation, literally millions of kids, who are lacking the ability to follow through on their verbal Spanish skills so they can read and write in Spanish. It should be obvious, given that you and I are communicating by reading and writing, that such skills are important for this generation. It is in everybody’s interests that these kids receive such basic instruction. So, bilingual education is not just about people being able to talk to their relatives (they can already do that) — it is about developing the full potential of the skills they have.

  33. Ok, let me frame it this way:

    How or why, as the product of Tongan immigrants, is the American taxpayer concerned that I am able to continue to read and write in Tongan? Culturally important? Sure, for me. Economically important for me too, should I find some kind of job that requires that. But why should even one American tax dollar be purposed to help me read and write in Tongan? How does the average American benefit from me being able to write a letter to my aunt? This is an odd stance coming from you, a libertarian-leaning conservative. The onus is on me to maintain my cultural heritage, is it not?

  34. This is a classic case of why education, like most things, should be privatized. If education were not funded by people who didn’t have kids, but was funded by the parents of people with kids, then you would get bilingual schools in Tongan and many other languages if there were sufficient demand among immigrants. Without knowing anything about the Tongan culture, I would imagine there are Tongans who are in favor of complete immersion in English and Tongans who want to maintain their culture and would like schools that teach kids to read and write in Tongan. The same applies to Spanish-speaking immigrants.

    The difference, of course, is that there is, in most American states, a much larger group of Hispanic immigrants than any other group. Spanish, depending on how you measure it, is a top five world language — Tongan is not.

    So, the libertarian in me says privatize all schools and allow people to educate themselves however they want. This is not going to happen anytime soon. Because we have a public education monopoly, we must choose how to educate our kids in a way that will provide them the best skills to survive in a global marketplace. I vote that learning to read and write in Spanish fulfills this goal. Learning to read and write in Tongan does not.

    Now having said that, there may be areas where Tongans predominate and where a certain school board should be convinced to allow Tongan instruction. This happens in Chinese and Korean and Haitian neighborhoods all the time. I have no problem with this. It would be silly to teach somebody in Colorado, where I live, in Tongan, but it might make sense in certain neighborhoods, and if I lived there I would have no problem with my tax dollars being used that way (beyond my general objection to my tax dollars being taken away in the first place).

  35. Decent response, Geoff. Of course if the U.S. would get our crap back together, learning Spanish for the global marketplace wouldn’t be such a necessity.

    Back to the original subject, I echo Mark D.’s comments earlier about the Church’s stance on illegal immigration (in a nutshell, that it’s generally awesome). Unlike Bro. Pearce, however, I have no problem voicing my disagreement with it.

  36. “Kent: How do you imagine I sneered at bilingual students? I did not, but am opposed to paying the cost of such education.”

    You wrote:
    “Bilingual education is all about teaching illegals and children of illegals how to understand lesson material and get through school,”

    Seems strangely like you think that the bilingual student’s needs are not worthy somehow. In this same vein, we shouldn’t have to pay for the education of Special Needs kids? Isn’t it kind of a sneer to suggest that kids who are not sufficiently fluent in English don’t deserve a taxpayer funded education.

    We need to stop seeing immigrants as others who want something they don’t deserve. they are no different than we are and are just as deserving of what we have as we are.

  37. Kent: It was no sneer at all. You still cannot accept that they do not deserve getting a free education paid for by US taxpayers. They are still law breakers and law breakers are different from those of us who respect and obey the laws of the land.

  38. “Law breakers are different…”

    These “law breakers” can serve honorable full-time missions, and the church even makes sure to call them to state-side missions, and finds rides for them to the mission field and back so that these “law breakers” can avoid ICE raids at airports.

    These “law breakers” serve as church leaders. If there’s a Spanish-speaking branch in your stake, that branch president may very well be a “law breaker.”

    A serious study of D&C makes clear that not all laws are worth following. The 12th Article of Faith is a gross simplification of a much more complicated reality–a reality that’s fleshed out with a more serious study of the scriptures. The church has certainly made clear that it could care less about your immigration status (unless it needs to know in order to protect you from ICE). The church has also made clear that the immigration status of other members of the church is none of your business.

  39. >OP Granted that Brother Pearce’s views on immigration are inconsistent with the Church’s position, what views *are* consistent with the Church’s position: A nation has the right to control its borders, but violating those borders is not a deportable offense? Is this a mystery like the Trinity?

    >26 “it was a pleasure to work with them, especially compared to the usual parade of locals who would last for a night, a couple of weeks or even months before quitting or getting fired.”

    The unemployed blue collar U.S. citizens in my stake resent your characterization of them.

    >43 “If there’s a Spanish-speaking branch in your stake, that branch president may very well be a ‘law breaker.’”

    Here’s one:

    >43 “The 12th Article of Faith is a gross simplification”

    Which other Articles of Faith are gross simplifications?

  40. “Kent: It was no sneer at all. You still cannot accept that they do not deserve getting a free education paid for by US taxpayers. They are still law breakers…”

    Really? These elementary school and middle school and high school children are LAW BREAKERS because their parents brought them here?

    That kind of logic is EXACTLY what the Church’s position is opposed to, if I’m reading it correctly.

  41. Tim, 43: Yes, the Church’s clearly believes that immigration law isn’t one that the organization and its followers needs to adhere to. Makes me wonder what other laws they condone us breaking.

    This is something our bishop told me many members in our ward bring up during temple recommend interviews (yes, I sustain the prophet, but you should know I really disagree with the illegal immigration thing). His response is something to the effect of “Yeah, I think you’re okay because I pretty much feel the same way.”

  42. Tossman, it seems to me that there are three approaches when we are faced with a Church position that we oppose.

    1)We can change ourselves to be more in line with the Church position.
    2)We can complain and “agitate” for change in the Church position.
    3)We can pray for understanding about why we disagree with the Church position. The last one may take years.

    This applies to everything — the Word of Wisdom, supporting Prop 8, understanding why the Lord took until 1978 to give blacks the Priesthood, polygamy, etc.

    My default position is always 1) but there are times when I have had to take 3). I still don’t fully understand, for example, why the Church took until 1978 to give blacks the priesthood, but I have put it in a category mentally of “things I don’t understand yet,” and I am OK with that.

    There is room for the Church for number 2), but it is fraught with potential dangers. Polite disagreement very quickly turns into contentious disagreement, judging and perhaps even apostasy. So as a general policy I definitely shy away from number 2).

  43. Geoff, agree with your approach. I take some comfort in the fact that the Church’s position on illegal immigration isn’t doctrine (i.e., not appearing as an Official Declaration in canon or articulated by a member of the Twelve in conference). As far as I’m concerned, this is a political/administrative position that I’m not obligated to move in line with, or even pray about. I do not consider this a polygamy or blacks-and-the-priesthood type of issue.

  44. People who complain about all the benefits that are granted to “law-breakers” from taxes paid by U.S. citizens are completely blind to the fact that undocumented aliens pay substantial amounts in taxes–payroll taxes, income taxes, property taxes and sales taxes. And, their labor creates substantial wealth that becomes part of the U.S. economy through their purchases of goods and services. Ignoring those economic contributions allows the “deport them all–or make life hell so they’ll leave on their own” crowd to claim that they’re only being fair to us hard-working Americans. Once that claim is shown to be baseless, about all that’s left is anti-foreign bias.

  45. All of us who “respect the law of the land” because our mothers had the good sense to be in the U.S. on the day we were born, who arrived in the richest country in the history of the world, who have freedom to pursue our dreams of education and work in whatever field we want to qualify for, etc., etc., are surely in a good position to tell those poor schmucks who didn’t show such foresight that they are law breakers and not worthy of being in the same country as we are. As the Marines would say, “F***in’ A!”

    And, one note to Paul on bilingual education: besides native-born Americans who want their children to have a serious experience in a second language, there are a lot of others, including legal immigrants who can benefit from bilingual education programs. Sorry if the news comes as a shock, but there is no requirement that a permanent resident alien learn English–a person may immigrate to the U.S. and never learn the language and still live here legally for the rest of his or her life. The English language requirement applies only if he or she wants to become a citizen.

    But, not to worry–English language learning rates are higher for the current wave of immigrants than for any other in our nation’s history. Little Jose Hernandez is going to learn English, and, who knows, he may learn to conjugate “lay” and “lie” correctly, unlike most of his native-born peers.

  46. Mark B., I’ve never seen sufficient documentation that illegals pay “substantial amounts” in taxes. It’s a claim always thrown out there, but one nobody gets around to backing up.

  47. It seems to me that a large part of the problem, and perhaps a reason for the Church’s position on these laws, is that its simply bad, immoral law.

    I think most people agree that a law that discriminates against one group of people because of things they can’t control like the color of their skin and where they were born has moral problems.

  48. Tossman, not sure what “sufficient documentation” you might possibly be satisfied by, but a 5- second Google search will turn up hundreds of articles discussing this topic if you really want to know the facts instead of pretending that they aren’t available.

  49. Hard numbers, Bill. I mean hard numbers. What is the amount of taxes (payroll, income, property, and sales) paid by the average illegal as compared to the average legal immigrant or citizen? If it’s comparable or more, then you have an argument. If it’s less, you don’t.

    The “just google it” defense is a cop out. Mark B. makes a claim here, he should back it up here. I’m sure Geoff and Kent are dying to help him out.

  50. Bill, I think you should give Tossman a break on this one. Do illegal immigrants pay payroll taxes? Well, yes and no. If they work as day workers, they don’t, and they certainly don’t pay income taxes. If they work for a legitimate company, they probably pay payroll taxes, but it is unclear to me (as somebody who actually knows a lot of illegal immigrants) that they file their income taxes. Do they pay sales taxes? Definitely. Do they pay property taxes? Definitely if they own a house, but most illegal immigrants rent. so this may not be a significant number.

    So, do undocumented workers pay “substantial amounts” of taxes? Overall, they pay less than legal workers. So, I would add, the solution is to legalize them.

    What is often ignored about the realities of undocumented workers is that the major way they build the economy, which is through good ol’ fashioned free enterprise. People who think the economy is a zero-sum game (ie, if an undocumented worker gets a job, somebody else loses a job) simply do not understand the reality of economics. Immigrants bring the greatest skills you can have in a (somewhat) free market economy, which are 1)a desire to work and 2)an acceptance of innovation and 3)capital. Immigrants create new businesses literally out of nothing. Just to give an example from my own life: I know a man who has a cargo business in Miami that is dedicated *entirely* to immigrants who come to Miami and send stuff back home. His business literally would not exist if it weren’t for immigrants. He employs 10 people, drivers, office staff, etc. Most of them are legal. None of them speak English very well, but all of their kids do. The man’s business probably generates $100k per year in tax revenue. Multiply this by 10,000 and you are talking some serious money — all of it completely generated by the magic of the free market. We could then talk about all of the immigrants who invent new stuff (every heard of Wang computers?), but I think I have made my point.

  51. When confronted by the nativists of his day, Abraham Lincoln told a story about his Irish gardener. He had asked him why he hadn’t managed to be born in the United States. He replied: “Faith, Mr. Lincoln. I wanted to be, but my mother wouldn’t let me.”

    (Foner, Eric, The Fiery Trial, p. 77)

    I think Kent is right–the leaders of the church are simply uncomfortable with laws that turn entirely on whether people were successful in persuading their mothers to be in the United States when they were born.

  52. Geoff, I am afraid that you are confusing paying taxes with filing tax returns. If undocumented aliens are working off the books and are paid in cash, then it’s true that they wouldn’t be subject to income or payroll taxes. But if they’re working on a tax i.d. number or a social security number, then taxes will be withheld from their wages. Will they file a tax return? Hard to predict–but we can be quite certain that they won’t collect social security out of the payroll taxes. (Of course, neither will anybody else after about 2030, but that’s another story.)

    And, where do you suppose, Geoff, that landlords obtain the money to pay the property taxes on their rental properties? True, the tenants don’t pay property taxes directly, but their rent surely contains a component that the landlord is counting on to pay his property taxes.

    And I agree with your proposed solution: legalize them and bring them fully into the system.

    The economic effects of their labor and their consumption are as you describe Geoff–something too often forgotten by those who want to paint immigrants as simply a drain on the U.S. economy.

    Finally, Tossman: your question about trespass laws is based on a common confusion–that somehow our relationship to this nation is the same as our relationship to a house or a farm. You might have purchased your home with money that you earned by working, but you gained your citizenship in the USA by the pure happenstance of your birth. You and I no more own the U.S. than we own the sunlight or the rain.

  53. Mark B., this debate will remain a hot one until both sides can agree on at least a shared definition of terms.

    Example, from your last comment:

    “…something too often forgotten by those who want to paint immigrants as simply a drain on the U.S. economy.”

    Neither I, nor anybody I know believes that immigration is a drain on the economy. Your side doesn’t recognize a dichotomy between illegal and legal immigration, thus you can’t possibly wrap your mind around how I might. So you default to the nativist argument.

    On a side note, I work with a guy originally from Egypt who, after a nightmare of paperwork and waiting, finally became a citizen last year. He is against legalization of illegals in any shape or form. Is he nativist?

    On the trespassing thing, I don’t argue that my relationship with the nation is the same relationship with my house. Rather, the government’s relationship with the nation is the same as my relationship with my house. Just as I can regulate who comes onto my property, the government may regulate who steps across the border. It is not an immoral law.

  54. I recognize a dichotomy between legal and illegal immigration, and agree that it would be impractical to open the flood gates wide to everyone who wanted to come all at once.

    I just disagree that illegal immigrants pay no taxes. According to this article:

    they paid $50 billion in income taxes from 1996-2003, in addition to $41 billion in payroll taxes. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were quite a few illegal immigrants with a higher effective tax rate than, for example, Mitt Romney.

  55. I would agree that it is necessary for people addressing this issue to assume the best from people on the other side. In general, Tossman, I would say you make good, cogent arguments. But there is something about the immigration debate that makes otherwise reasonable people go absolutely bonkers, and I really don’t get it. If we want to be truthful, there is a nativist element to the opposition to immigration. Even a complete loser like Rick Perry faced it when he dared to say that building a border fence along the Rio Grande (which the people of Texas don’t want) was perhaps a bit much, and literally millions of people went postal on him. So, we need to face the fact that nativism is an element. Let’s face it: some people don’t like seeing their neighborhoods change character and be filled with all these newcomers, and some people feel uncomfortable with people speaking another language they don’t understand and some people feel they are losing their jobs to low-wage workers. This is just reality, and nativism is involved.

    There is another factor that rational actors should consider. The people most involved with the immigration system, like Mark B, who does it for a living, are the people most likely to support a path to legalization. I would guess Mark B, as an immigration lawyer, would actually have fewer clients, not more, if the system actually worked better, yet for humane reasons he wants it to work better. In addition, you have people like me. I am super-conservative on most issues, but I have experienced the immigration system firsthand, and it is very, very broken. It simply is not good for the country for us to continue to make life impossible for people who want to immigrate here.

  56. The Know-Nothings of Lincoln’s day were open and honest (and dead wrong) in their antipathy toward the immigrants who they believed were destroying America–it was mostly the Irish, with their Papist ways, that were spelling the end of life as they knew it. I cited the Lincoln story to show the utter emptiness of the exclusionary argument–why blame a man for being born abroad?

    If I suggest to immigration restrictionists that we simply erase the “illegal” problem by granting everyone legal status, they inevitably come up with another argument, which when you reduce it to the bare bones is simply “we don’t want to let more foreigners in.”

    Sure, the government has the power to decide whom to admit and whom to exclude. And it has used that power in a most unwise manner.

    If nobody you know believes immigrants are an economic drain, then you don’t know the Kris Kobachs and Mark Krikorians of the Federation for American Immigration Reform or the Center for Immigration Studies. They’ve come up with all kinds of biased reports that purport to show exactly that. I’m glad to hear that you don’t pay any mind to that tripe.

    Your Egyptian friend appears to be suffering from the “tick, tock the game is locked and nobody else can play” syndrome. “I’ve passed the initiation rituals, and by golly anybody else who wants in had better do the same!” And if he’s reduced an entire class of people to “illegals” then he’s walking down an ugly path. Just because someone overstayed his visa or entered the country without a passport, he hasn’t simply become the personification of lawbreaking.

  57. Kent, sure they do. What about the guy down the street who inherited his estate? Is it immoral for him to hang a no trespassing sign because he happened to be born there and I not?

    And as long as we’re on this whole place of birth kick, what about my Egyptian co-worker(the one who Mark B. judges in #52 above), how is it fair or moral to allow a certain block of immigrants to jump the line simply because of their geographic proximity to the U.S.?

  58. It’s as fair to let people who by dint of their industry or ingenuity or desperation have managed to get themselves into the United States (even if they’ve received a huge boost from their birth in a nearby country), as it is to let people stay here who merely happened to have been born here in the first place.

    Maybe, to make the world fair, we should take all infants at birth and distribute them randomly around the world and let back in only those who have earned it (after duly waiting in line). And, by the way, there is no “line” for 99.9999999% (or so) of the world’s population.

  59. Mark B., your diatribes sidestep the very valid issue of sovereignty. Further, until you’re willing to disclaim any perk/benefit/property that you have by virtue of being born here, I can’t take your birth location framing of this discussion seriously.

    If you seriously subscribe to this philosophy, I hope you apply it across the board– not just when it suits your political and professional purposes.


  60. “Kent, sure they do. What about the guy down the street who inherited his estate? Is it immoral for him to hang a no trespassing sign because he happened to be born there and I not?”

    I don’t think you are correct. Trespassing is almost always about ownership and permission, not place of birth. If someone did give permission to enter property based on place of birth, yes, I’d have to say that such a position is immoral.

    In Mormonism we believe in the principle that we are to be punished for our own sins, and not for those of others and not for anything we acquired by birth. Why should we then think it moral to then favor one group over another based on place of birth?

  61. Diatribes? Really? My “modest proposal” about injecting fairness into the birthright of American citizenship is a diatribe? Or is it my statement that there is no “line” into which most of the world’s population can get if they want to immigrate to the U.S.? That’s simply a fact.

    But, as to our nation’s sovereignty, I think it can survive our returning to the open door immigration policies of the 19th century. Anybody who could afford to book passage across the oceans (or the deserts) in those days was allowed to enter the U.S., and nobody questions whether the U.S. retained sovereignty over its peoples or territory back then.

    It’s sort of silly now to draw an imaginary line in the desert and make the securing of that line a test of our nationhood.

    I’ll refrain from giving up the benefits of birth in America, thank you, but I won’t stand here and suggest that I’ve earned them, or that I can tell others that they can’t come to partake of those benefits, simply because too many others from their country have already come, or too many people total have come, or because they don’t have someone (a relative or a potential employer) here to petition for them.

  62. Geoff, back to your comments on nativism, it would be interesting to see how people felt about this if we mixed things up a bit. Would you- or Joe American- feel the same way about the neighborhood changes, etc., if the influx of immigration were coming from a Muslim country rather than Mexico? What about a predominantly Latino neighborhood facing a gradual demographic replacement by a Ukrainian community?

    I can’t speculate about the answer, but it would be interesting to see how much nativism or its opposite (or sympathy, heritage, or familial ties) plays into one’s position on immigration in general. My guess is that it weighs in heavily for all sides. When stripped to its bare bones, this is an emotional debate.

    Mark B., yes, diatribes. Mini diatribes at least. Without the Lincoln references, maybe chidings. My comment might have made more sense in context.

  63. I’m sorry you can’t hear the reasonable tones I use when speaking all these lines, Tossman.

    And, I am also sorry that the context that would have helped me make more sense of your comment had to be deleted by the blog managers.

  64. I hear you, Mark. This would probably be a more productive conversation if it were in-person.

  65. Tossman,

    You are correct in saying that some illegals do not pay income taxes. I knew several Latino gardeners in both California and Utah that accept only cash for their services and do not pay US taxes. Latinos do send a lot of money they have earned back to Mexico, however. Billions of US dollars are sent to Mexico annually by Latinos living here and that money has been extremely helpful to the Mexican government as it is a positive addition to their economy (their words).

    I have had little comment from Forum posters about my statements re the Church’s position on the matter or the definitive Church position as stated in the D&C regarding obeying the law of the land wherever a person may live. For a good read on the matter, read “The Articles of Faith” by Talmadge. It seems impossible to me to avoid the reality of the statement or attempt to downplay the 12th Article of Faith.

  66. Nobody has engaged in the 12th Article of Faith discussion because nobody takes it seriously in this context. Of course we understand that these people have broken a law–but the law is unjust and its penalties draconian. And strict enforcement against the 12,000,000 or so of our brothers and sisters who have violated the law is not only fiscally impossible (there isn’t enough money in the treasury to hire the judges, attorneys and ICE agents that would be necessary to round up all the illegal aliens in the U.S. and decide whether they’re removable and ultimately send them packing), but it would be an economic disaster (take 5,000,000 workers out of the economy, and 12,000,000 tenants and consumers, and see how things work out).

    So, should people obey the law? Sure. But should we waste our nation’s resources in enforcing it? Absolutely not. And, should we establish the kind of all-powerful police state that would be required to enforce the laws? I don’t think so, and I’m puzzled why so many anti-government Republicans seem to think otherwise. You want the symbol of our nation to be an impenetrable fence on the southern border? Really? So you can pat yourselves on the back and say you believe in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law??

    Finally, I know a lot of people use “illegals” as shorthand for people who have broken the immigration laws. Since I suspect that you have broken the law, some law, during your lifetime, I propose that we start using “illegals” to describe you as well. Everything you have ever done in your life we’ll reduce to one fact–you broke a law!

    And Elder Talmage spelled his name without a “d”. The Talmadge that you should be quoting, who had a firm belief in the sanctity of unjust laws, was Herman Talmadge of Georgia.

  67. Mark B., although I am in favor of a fence/smart fence (and could really care less if the world looks down its nose at us for it), but only for security reasons. My approach to the non-drug cartel aspect of illegal immigration would not emphasize enforcement. I’m a remove-the-incentives type of guy.

    As to the parsing of the term “illegal,” if I did 75 in a 65mph zone yesterday, I did break the law, and I was “illegal” while doing so. However, since I ceased breaking that law after exiting the freeway I am no longer illegal. You obviously know the law better than I, but by entering this country illegally and remaining here, illegal immigrants are perpetually illegal. Dumb semantics game, I know, but that’s how it is.

  68. Mark B.

    Only 12 million illegals? There are credible estimates of up to 25 million. The State that as many as 25% of aliens coming to the US by air remain in the country after their visas expire. Add their number to those crossing the border and the number escalates.

    Why is the law unjust and draconian? It is a Federal law (and by the way, I have never broken a Federal law), but those that do are still Federal law breakers). Not to worry- Obama has just declared that the DOJ will not enforce the law and he has never built the fence.

    Your comment re my inadvertent addition of a “d” to Elder Talmage’s name and telling me that I should quote Herman Talmadge was insulting at best.

    The 12th Article of Faith remains in place and valid, but you choose ignore it, saying that
    “nobody takes takes it seriously in this context.” Almost everyone I know at Church takes it seriously in this context.

  69. ” Almost everyone I know at Church takes it seriously in this context.”

    And the people who actually run the church (ie–the prophets of God) don’t, in this context. Otherwise, they wouldn’t knowingly be sending “illegals” on missions or making them branch presidents.

  70. No more insulting than you continuing to refer to your fellow human beings as “illegals”–as if their entire life can be reduced to one simple fact, that they broke a law.

    The national debt is climbing out of sight and you’re complaining that Obama hasn’t poured billions of dollars into a useless fence on the southern border? I really don’t understand why conservatives have climbed onto the anti-immigrant bandwagon. It’s as if all your small government ideals get tossed out in favor of huge increases in state power and state spending. Of course, you could look to historical examples of good wall-builders. Start with Hadrian, and then whatever dynasty built the Great Wall, and on to Josef Stalin and Erich Honecker and Nikita Khrushchev–which president do you want to add to that list?

    As to the 12th Article of Faith, what Tim said (except for his use of the ugly term “illegals.”) I know he used scare quotes, but it’s still ugly. And add to what he said the church’s response to the anti-polygamy laws for thirty years.

    I’ve never seen an estimate anywhere close to 25,000,000. But I’d be happy to see the numbers you cite. But if the number is indeed that high, then the President’s decision not to take action to remove those brought here as children is a wise one–surely there are people who should be higher on the deportation priority list than people who were brought here as children.

    I’m not sure what there is about the immigration laws being “federal” that has any bearing on whether they are draconian. The fact is that they are draconian, and the most draconian of penalties have had the exact opposite effect from what Congress intended–ask any immigration lawyer if the 10-year bar on re-entry has increased or decreased the number of undocumented immigrants and he or she will tell you it’s increased the number.

  71. Clearly the issue of illegal immigration is a difficult one. However, several things are clear.
    1) People are illegally crossing the border. Even the best intentioned of these illegal aliens cause problems for innocent American citizens in the way of stolen identities, ruining people’s financial standing, and other related crimes.
    2) Improperly protected borders put American citizens at risk of harm from human traffickers, drug cartels, terrorist, etc. This violates one of the enumerated responsibilities placed on the federal government via the constitution (the common defense clause and Article IV Section 4 “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion…”).
    3)It is improbable that all illegal aliens will self-deport or that they could all be forcibly deported even if we tried.

    Suggesting that we should ignore #2 because of #3 is ridiculous. It is the duty of the federal government to protect our border and the sovereignty afforded to the United States from our God as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. I suggest that as soon as the government shows some competence at protecting our border then we can address the people here illegally (many of whom continue to break the law by forging documents, stealing identities, and ruining innocent people’s financial standing).

    The reality is clear: protect the border first, then we can talk about the rest of the problem. Until then any talk of “amnesty” or “amnesty-like” programs will only encourage additional people to risk their lives in dangerous border crossings.

    As to the issue of this post, do not fall into the trap the media has placed for you. Contrary to the image the media has crafted, Russell Pearce is not an evil person. I know him personally and have witnessed his goodness. He is doing what he believes is right and just, according to his faith and the duties he had as an elected official. He is more concerned about sustaining the Constitution than he is about being called nasty names. You are free to disagree with his methods, but do not assume you know what motivates him.

  72. Leland, I do not recall anyone calling Pearce evil. Now, as to Pearce’s motivations, I believe I have a fairly clear picture about what motivates him. Based on conversations I have had with former co-worker’s at MCSO, Pearce sees issues as black and white–there is no gray in his world. He once arrested a woman at the Salt River for going topless. In his mind, she was breaking the law (which arguably she was), but was that the most important law he could have enforced that day at the Salt River? Think about it. The Salt River recreation area is known for women in bikinis and for people drinking alcoholic beverages. I would argue that Pearce is so focused on certain issues (like immigration), that he fails to see the big picture, just like the day he arrested a topless woman tubing down the Salt River. It is one thing to support the Constitution, but quite another to simply focus on one sliver of that document.

    Also, Pearce has never satisfactorily addressed his close association with J.T. Ready, a purveyor of racism and hate. Pearce ordained Ready as an Elder. That isn’t something you do for someone you just know casually. Am I right?

    And what about his claimed endorsement from the Church? How can anyone ignore such a brazen lie as this???

    Finally, Pearce has ethics problems he continues to avoid relative to the Fiesta Bowl and all of the perks he received from them. I would not want a politician representing me who skirted around principles of ethics like Pearce does. His “everybody was doing it” defense is pathetic.

    I look forward to a win for Bob Worsley in LD25!

  73. As a father of six young children I’m glad to hear that Officer Pearce enforced the decency laws.

    If you want to talk about selectively enforcing laws, I’ll remind you that the federal government is selectively ignoring their explicit duty to secure our borders. I’m grateful there are people willing to address this issue in spite of the federal government’s apathy. Do you think they’ll ever selectively ignore their taxing authority?

    Now, as for Ready, you may not be willing to accept it, but this has been discussed repeatedly. Have you never known someone who tried to follow a path of righteousness but ultimately fell into darker paths? (Consider consulting a mirror) I fail to understand how one man’s eventual path toward evil reflects on a former friend who tried to help him on a path of righteousness. The attempts by you and others like you to smear Pearce because of the actions of a former friend reveal that you are more intent on an outcome than you are in seeing the truth.

  74. Leland, it is not a smear to ask Pearce about his connections with Ready. Pearce makes it worse by denying his past association with the man.

    Also, having worked in law enforcement myself, there are certain laws that you just do not enforce because it is not practical. Decency at the Salt River is one of those laws. It is better to warn someone and ask them to put their top back on than it is to arrest them for it.

    Once again, the conversation about Pearce always drifts back to his one key issue, immigration. As Bob Worsley rightly points out, Pearce is a one note politician when it comes to immigration.

  75. Not sure if you guys know this, but J.T. Ready was not only racist, he was also a mass murderer. His victims included a young child.

    That being said, there are plenty of other reasons to dislike Pearce.

  76. Pearce appropriately denies his association with the white supremacist JT Ready. He has spoken clearly about his earlier association. Can you not see the difference?

    Given that almost without exception the issue of illegal immigration is ignored by our representatives, I appreciate that there is someone willing to risk being called racist in order to stand for what is right. Immigration is not the only issue Pearce works to promote, but is the highest profile one for sure. Worsley may play more keys on his piano, but he also works hard to avoid the one labeled “illegal immigration” (case in point the change he made to his lds profile and his subsequent attempts to avoid the illegal immigration questions).

  77. Tim, I am well aware of Ready’s evil actions. I refered to his evil actions on purpose. Again, I fail to understand how one man’s eventual path toward evil reflects on a former friend who tried to help him on a path of righteousness. Attempts to smear Pearce because of Ready’s actions are dishonest.

    Naturally, you are free to dislike Pearce, but untruths and half-truths do not promote your cause.

  78. 1) People are illegally crossing the border. Even the best intentioned of these illegal aliens cause problems for innocent American citizens in the way of stolen identities, ruining people’s financial standing, and other related crimes.

    Well, I suspect a good portion of undocumented immigrants don’t steal identities, but work off the books. I don’t know what their intentions are (nor do you, I think). I’m also not sure what portion of these stolen identities actually cause harm to a living citizen. Aren’t a good portion of the Social Security numbers used by otherwise undocumented immigrants those of deceased persons?

    Has there been any studies that show the extent of this harm? I know it happens, but the sense I have is that actual harm to currently living persons is a minority of the cases of using someone else’s SSN.

    2) Improperly protected borders put American citizens at risk of harm from human traffickers, drug cartels, terrorist, etc. This violates one of the enumerated responsibilities placed on the federal government via the constitution (the common defense clause and Article IV Section 4 “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion…”).

    This is clearly the most overstated part of the entire argument for restricting immigration. IF this is a significant problem, the solution is simple: encourage LEGAL immigration (i.e., reduce the restrictions), so that only those with nefarious purposes will try to go through surreptitiously.

    Most of the evils you recount here—human traffickers, drug cartels—are extensions of U.S.-based demand for illegal goods. By restricting immigration like we do, we help fund other illegal activities. The same coyotes who bring immigrants to the U.S. illegally also bring drugs and other things. They learn from bringing in illegal immigrants and use that knowledge to bring in drugs (and then take our easy-to-obtain arms back the other way, escalating violence in northern Mexico — violence that will, if it hasn’t already, spill back across the border to us).

    If we make it easy to come legally, we take a chunk out of the funding that the drug cartels get, and made it harder for them to support their organizations.

    To my mind this all means that our “get tough” policy on immigration is actually counter-productive, making it MORE likely that we will get the things you fear coming over the border.

    3)It is improbable that all illegal aliens will self-deport or that they could all be forcibly deported even if we tried.

    So, what are you saying should happen? Aren’t you hinting at something like that dirty word that anti-immigration people hate: Amnesty? If not, then what is your solution?

    And, more importantly, do you think that leaving the non-criminal undocumented aliens in their current status is more or less likely to induce them to commit serious crimes?

  79. 1. Ask someone whose identity has been stolen and credit ruined about the “extent of the harm”. You admit it happens. Are you suggesting that there is some magic number of times it happens that would suddenly convince you of the need for improved border security?

    2. How does increasing legal immigration stop criminals from crossing the border? Won’t those with nefarious purposes continue to cross with their drugs, guns, or even worse weapons? You seem intent to open the borders wide to any and all. Is that your position?

    3. You failed to read the rest of the statement. I said:

    The reality is clear: protect the border first, then we can talk about the rest of the problem. Until then any talk of “amnesty” or “amnesty-like” programs will only encourage additional people to risk their lives in dangerous border crossings.

    The facts are clear…secure the border to stop the criminal element, then you can address the illegal aliens already here and increase *legal* immigration where appropriate. Failing to first secure the border to reasonable levels will ensure any other efforts for “comprehensive” reforms will fail. The American public will not support free-for-all amnesty without proper border control first.

  80. 1)Really, Leland. Are you suggesting that if it happened only once, that it should drive our entire immigration policy? Get real. How much it happens DOES matter. I’m not saying that such a crime isn’t devastating for the victim. I AM suggesting that in order to decide the best level of law enforcement and legal response, you DO have to know how often the crime happens, among many other factors. You’re trying to escape the uncomfortable fact that your claim is not nearly as big an issue as anti-immigration folks try to make it out to be.

    2) I answered that question in my comment. If you were trying to come to the U.S. and had the choice of coming legally or illegally, all other factors being the same, which would you choose? I’m quite sure that the vast majority of those that come illegally would come legally IF that were possible and didn’t involve unreasonable delay and cost.

    Remove those who use the services of the coyotes, and the coyotes no longer have the money that illegal immigrants pay them to cross the border. Without that money, they can’t afford to hire as many workers to cross the border and have less incentive to figure out how to get across without being caught.

    I’m not suggesting that such a move will eliminate criminals entering the U.S., but it will reduce the profits to criminal enterprises that facilitate illegal crossings, making it harder for them to support their organizations — they would have to fire people in all likelihood. And smaller organizations have less ability and are easier to stop.

    “You seem intent to open the borders wide to any and all. Is that your position?”

    I think some regulation is necessary to control for criminals and help plan the resources immigrants will need, but I think that restricting who can come and live in an area based on where they were born is immoral and against gospel principles, as is any discrimination based on things beyond the control of an individual.

    Last I checked, neither you nor I nor anyone alive had any say over where we were born. Why should we be penalized for that? Why should we be privileged for it? I know of no reason why I deserve the blessing I got from being born in the U.S.!

    3)”The reality is clear: protect the border first, then we can talk about the rest of the problem.”

    What a lot of hooey. You didn’t understand my reply in 2) Our border efforts are actually CAUSING much of the problem. We CAN NOT protect our border until we reduce the demand to immigrate. Increasing the difficulty of crossing only INCREASES the prices to cross and the profits of those who are bringing in aliens!! The insane levels of enforcement are actually making the problem worse!!!

    Think about it as an economic problem. If you reduce the supply, that doesn’t eliminate the demand, it only raises the price! The pent-up demand will find a way around whatever enforcement we implement.

    Or think about it as trying to dam a river. You have to let the water go somewhere or eventually it will run over the top of the dam or the pressure will break it. In the long run, ENFORCEMENT WILL NOT WORK TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM!!!

    The “facts” you claim are clear actually say the opposite.

    Our only hope to solve this problem is to increase drastically or eliminate the quotas and thus reduce demand (or, you can tank the economy, which reduces opportunity in the U.S. and therefore reduces demand — which has actually happened during the current economic downturn — but no one really wants to do that).

    First “securing the border” — something that, BTW, has never even been tried, let alone achieved — is doomed to failure.

  81. Its not that I “didn’t understand” your reply, Kent. The thing is that I disagree with your conclusions. I simply disagree with your position that “restricting who can come and live in an area based on where they were born is immoral and against gospel principles”. It is not discriminatory nor against the principles of the gospel to define and defend the borders of sovereign nations. That’s my position, and by the way, I believe that the vast majority of Americans and faithful LDS people would agree with me. My immigration position does not make me immoral or an unfaithful church member, just as yours doesn’t make you one. We simply disagree.

    You are right about one thing, the need to reduce demand. We can do that by addressing the other side of this: increasing punishments upon businesses and business owners who hire illegals.

  82. Leland, please show me where the gospel says that you or I deserve better based on where we were born.

    Its not in the gospel.

    Refusing the honest entry in our country is NOT defending our borders under the gospel.

    Your position is indefensible under the gospel that I hear preached on Sunday.

    As for reducing demand, increasing punishments on businesses who hire illegals doesn’t reduce demand, it reduces supply. That’s basic economics.

  83. Wow, just when I thought this thread had died!

    I know the subject of the original post was Pearce and it’s quite clear that the man himself is quite important to some of you. But I detect an attempt (conscious or not) to discount arguments against illegal immigration based on the evils of this guy and his buddy. I may be totally wrong, but that’s how it’s coming off. I don’t dispute your arguments against him, but I want to make sure we don’t discard an orange (the general argument that illegal immigration isn’t awesome) because one apple is rotten.

    Re Kent L, comment 89:

    “Last I checked, neither you nor I nor anyone alive had any say over where we were born. Why should we be penalized for that? Why should we be privileged for it? I know of no reason why I deserve the blessing I got from being born in the U.S.!”

    I’ll say the same thing to you that I said to Mark B. earlier. I’ll start taking this argument seriously as soon as you say you’re willing to give up all the perks and privileges you currently enjoy by virtue of being born here.

  84. Pearce was the main driver behind the Arizona bill, and the Arizona bill is the main inspiration for a whole bunch of bills in other states. If we’re talking about oranges and apples, Pearce is the at the root of the issue. And if the root is rotten, don’t expect the fruits to be any good…

  85. Tossman, immigration reform stands or falls on its own merits. My issue is that Pearce is dishonest about a great many things. He wants to project a certain public image, yet his words and actions behind closed doors do not fit the public image. Pearce, in my opinion, is not fit to hold office.

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