Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued an updated statement on immigration late Monday, hours before the start of an immigration summit convened by Utah Governor Gary Herbert.
In the statement, Mormon leaders called on “elected leaders” “to find solutions” to the growing debate over immigration “in the best interest of all who will be impacted by their actions and called on “careful reflection” and “civil discourse” by the public. “Finding a successful resolution will require the best thinking and goodwill of all across the political spectrum, the highest levels of statesmanship, and the strongest desire to do what is best for all of God’s children,” Church leaders said.
Elected officials and Latino activists have asked the Church to take a more public stance on immigration in part because the immigration debate has been most heated in western states where Mormons constitute a politically significant portion of the population, such as Arizona and Utah. Russell Pearce, the author of Arizona’s infamous SB 1070, is a member of the LDS Church. And last week in Utah, an anonymous group calling itself “Concerned Citizens of the United States” distributed a watchlist with the names, social security numbers, and other personal information of 1300 alleged undocumented immigrants. (Several state workers are now under investigation for allegedly using state databases to compile the list.)
The Church’s compassionate but non-ideological statement reflects a deep Mormon tradition of pragmatism as well as the Church’s evolving consciousness of its global status. With millions of Spanish-speaking members worldwide and its greatest recent growth in the US among Latino communities, the LDS Church has found itself with members on both sides of the immigration debate.
Utah Proyecto Latino leader Tony Yapias praised Monday’s statement as the “strongest” “the church has made in regards to the issue of immigration.”
Catholic and Mormon leaders will attend today’s immigration summit.