This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Luke 14:35, the Bible, King James Version
Conservative Utah legislators who plan to ram through more legislation modeled after Arizona's draconian anti-immigrant law should listen up: Utah is not Arizona and doesn't aspire to be.
That was the gist of the message that had been conveyed for months, in far softer tones, by Utah churches, business and community leaders. Newspaper editorial boards this one included minced fewer words, repeatedly making the point that illegal immigration is a federal problem, involving breaches of federal law, and thus requires a federal, not a state, solution.
But members of the right-wing faction in the Republican-controlled Legislature either weren't listening, didn't care to, or were so caught up in the din of tea-party rhetoric about states rights and the supposed menace of "illegals" that they simply didn't hear any words of moderation, compassion or common sense.
Now, perhaps, they will, thanks to a pointed declaration issued Thursday by the Utah Compact, a collection of many of the same entities that had been counseling restraint. The welcome statement was given the volume and reach of a megaphone when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lent resounding support for what it characterized as "a responsible approach" to immigration reform.
Indeed, in most particulars, the LDS Church's endorsement was a reiteration of the legal, social and moral principles that the Utah Compact said should inform immigration policy. The two statements were clearly the result of close cooperation. The arrangement offered the state's predominant religion cover to speak more directly on a sensitive issue with potential to divide Mormons along social, political and even doctrinal lines. Anti-immigration legislators, for example, cite the faith's foundational support for "obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."
The Utah Compact defines immigration as solely a federal policy issue, indirectly opposes a Utah law giving law enforcement the power to enforce federal immigration laws, acknowledges the positive role immigrants play in the economy, counsels a "humane approach" to immigrants already integrated into Utah's social fabric, and opposes "policies that unnecessarily separate families."
We heartily endorse the principles espoused by the Utah Compact signatories and commend their desire to bring reason and understanding to this complex, contentious issue.