Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Political Musings II -- LDS Church and Utah Legislature

A recent Deseret News article, "Lawmakers, LDS Church brainstorm," touches on some current topics of interest and concern. I was particularly intrigued to read about advice given to Utah legislators from LDS Church leadership regarding the legislative policy on illegal immigrants.

According to the article,
LDS Church leaders have told legislative bosses that the "element of humanity" should be re-introduced to the state's immigration debates...

House Minority Whip David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, said the Democrats' meeting with church officials brought up several issues, but the immigration discussion was the most touching for him personally.

"I interpreted what was said as this: 'Take a step back, be calm, and above all remember that we are dealing with human beings here,"' said Litvack, who is Jewish and has himself called for cooler heads in dealing with the often emotional issue of illegal immigration...

LDS Church officials "used the word 'call,' they made a call for humanity in immigration" debates and legislation, Litvack said. "We should not demonize" illegal immigrants. "In some cases, the debate has become so ugly, I heard, so hateful and dehumanizing. Let's bring back the element of humanity."

The worldwide church has many Hispanic and Latino members, and the church's missionaries in Latin America are some of the most successful in getting new converts to the church.

Across America, but especially in the West, the tone of immigration debates has, at times, turned harshfully critical of immigrants and of the politicians arguing for what they term reasonable immigration laws.

Especially in the Republican presidential contest, immigration hard-liners have been pushing for tough new laws and policies.

More on this last assertion, from author Orson Scott Card -- "A Moderate Democrat's Open Letter to Republicans: Please Don't Throw Away This Election,", 6 Jan 2008.

I'm writing this on the Monday before the New Hampshire primary. I don't know the outcome, but the news today is all about Obama drawing bigger crowds than Clinton, and about how Mitt Romney's tough stand on illegal immigration in the debate is swinging Republican voters strongly toward him and away from McCain and Huckabee.

Smart move, Mitt.

For the moment.

But in the long run, if illegal immigration becomes the main issue on which a Republican secures his party's nomination, it is a potential disaster -- for the Republican Party and for the country...

Many Republicans are fond of saying that America is a Christian country. They claim to believe that we are all sinners, dependent on the mercy and forgiveness of Christ.

Which is why I'm baffled that so many of the same folks are grimly determined to deny any chance of amnesty -- a synonym for forgiveness or pardon -- to people whose crime is only a crime because a law we could easily change declares it so.

Americans may let themselves get hot under the collar about immigration, especially when demagogues exaggerate and misrepresent the "threat" of illegal immigrants.

But in the voting booth, most Americans consult their consciences. Most Americans will not vote for a candidate whose platform is built on hate and fear of strangers...

Of course, I might be wrong, and you might win with an anti-Mexican-immigrant platform. But I would not find that reassuring.

I don't want to live under shari'a -- but I also don't want to live under a government that drives hard-working parents and their children out of our country at the point of a gun, all for the crime of doing what it took to feed their families.

Another link to a local news article relating to this issue, on KSL...

"Religious groups weighing in on immigration issue",, 24 Jan 2008.

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