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Mormon Church Breaks With Hardline Nativists on Immigration

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has correctly come under fire for its role in propping up anti-gay laws such as California’s Proposition 8. Nevertheless, the conservative church released a statement last week distancing itself from may of the most draconian immigration proposals being advanced by state lawmakers:

The history of mass expulsion or mistreatment of individuals or families is cause for concern especially where race, culture, or religion are involved. This should give pause to any policy that contemplates targeting any one group, particularly if that group comes mostly from one heritage.

As those on all sides of the immigration debate in the United States have noted, this issue is one that must ultimately be resolved by the federal government.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God.

To be sure, the Mormon church’s statement is far from a beacon of hope to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. It also floats the possibility that undocumented immigrants “continue to work” in the United States “without this necessarily leading to citizenship” — a position that could leave many immigrant workers open to exploitation by their empl0yers.

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Nevertheless, the statement is also a clear break with many of the church’s most hardline members. Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce (R), the lead sponsor of that state’s harsh anti-immigrant law, has justified his nativism by citing his own Mormon faith.