May 14, 2010
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
47 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
Dear President Monson:
I am an attorney. In 2003, the Utah State Bar named me Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year for free work I did in the Latino and Spanish-speaking communities. I co-host the Spanish-language radio show Pulso Latino twice a week. Though I speak daily with members, I myself am not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (“LDS Church”).
I respectfully request that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints make a statement concerning measured, humane immigration reform.
The LDS Church does remarkable work, often through inner-city missions, to help undocumented immigrants be self reliant and productive. I have worked with and known several inner-city missionaries.
The perpetual education fund allows many people worldwide great opportunities for personal growth and community service. The perpetual education fund sets a standard for individual and collective well-being.
Despite this good work, many Latinos perceive a mixed message or an anti-immigrant message. Some Latinos who are members of the LDS Church have told me that the immigration issue and the anti-immigrant position of some prominent politicians who proclaim membership in the LDS Church have challenged their faith.
I understand that Utah politicians who are members do not speak for the LDS Church. Nevertheless, some of these politicians openly use scriptural references to support anti-immigrant proposals. The political environment and debate has become toxic, much to the detriment of justice, basic values and family.
Several Utah politicians favor anti-immigration legislation that mirrors recent Arizona law whose express intent is to “make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.”
The language is aggressive and an affront to human decency. Undocumented immigrants violate the law by being here, but they do hard work. Many make extraordinary sacrifices for their families and their communities. The federal government has long put aside the enforcement of immigration law for economic reasons. “Attrition through enforcement” easily devolves into a country and communities at war with themselves. Good people and society fall as victims.
Immigration reform is a moral and ethical issue. While the LDS Church is wisely careful with politics, silence on this issue has become akin to complicity. Rightly or wrongly, the reality for many is that aggressive politicians and pundits have become the de facto voice of the LDS Church.
Politicians sometimes list reasons to stand up for or against something. Some say near the end of an argument that they stand for a position because it is the right thing to do. This unfortunately inverts a moral and ethical thought process. The right thing to do ought to be a guide to thought, not an afterthought.
I ask the LDS Church to consider a stand for basic rights and dignity. Human beings should not be targeted for politics. Thank you for your consideration.