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Friday, November 12, 2010

The Utah Compact: The Church and Others Speak Out on Immigration

In this blog, I prefer to point out things I haven't seen in other places. I have written on immigration before (8/23/10, 9/21/10, 9/26/10) but there is something that needs to be pointed out.

The Church is a supporter of The Utah Compact. This is an effort by many sectors of society to speak with one voice on immigration. (You can sign it too.) On November 11, the Compact was signed. It is already posted on Wikipedia. However, in the Church's official statement it specifically does NOT mention the purely legal issues. And even though the Church supports it it did not officially sign it, although Mark Willes did. "The Church regards the declaration of the Utah Compact as a responsible approach to the urgent challenge of immigration reform."

The legal points that the Church's statement does not underscore are the following:
Immigration is a federal policy issue between the U.S. government and other countries—not Utah and other countries. 
We urge Utah’s congressional delegation, and others, to lead efforts to strengthen federal laws and protect our national borders. 
We urge state leaders to adopt reasonable policies addressing immigrants in Utah.
We respect the rule of law and support law enforcement’s professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code. 
Legal reasoning is usually lost on the public at large but I think the Church has taken a prudent approach in what it did. In our federal system, immigration policy is under the national government's jurisdiction. States cannot enact laws based on powers given to the nation. If illegal immigration is a problem that does not automatically mean states can or should do something about it. In addition, immigration falls under civil law not criminal. Obviously, the Church is staying out of these issues. If Sandstrom feels targeted that is his problem.


Here's a rundown of Utah and Mormon news sources on the issue:

KSL


Update: The New York Times Editorial page has praised The Utah Compact in an editorial published December 4, 2010 entitled, "The Utah Compact."

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