by David Safier
Surprising things have been going on in Utah lately around the subject of immigration. I won't go so far as to say they're progressive or I agree with them all, but they make Arizona look like the bastion of bigotry it is. And encouragingly, the Mormon Church has put its seal of approval on a more humane approach to immigration than what we're seeing in Arizona.
First there was the Utah Compact in November, which said immigration is a federal, not a state issue, that law enforcement should focus on crime, "not civil violations of federal code," that families should not be forced to separate, and finally,
Immigrants are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.
This compact was signed by mayors, the state attorney general, former governors and a former U.S. senator as well as Salt Lake City's Roman Catholic Diocese, the Chamber of Commerce and others. While the Mormon Church didn't sign on, it issued a "statement of support."
Yesterday the Mormon Church took the next step. Presiding Bishop H. David Burton attended and spoke at the Governor's signing of four immigration bills. Though the bills aren't wonderful, they include a guest worker program, which has infuriated groups on the right. Given that Utah could easily have gone the way of SB1070, this is encouraging news.
For me, the most important lesson is the importance of people in positions of power and authority having the courage to take a moral stand. The Utah Compact and the support of the Mormon Church have meant, "More and more folks understand how reasonable comprehensive reform is compared to enforcement only.”
ARIZONA CONNECTION: A group called the East Valley Patriots for American Values is working to get some city councils like Mesa and others in the East Valley to pass resolutions in support of the Utah Compact. This is a way to break through the group-think, herd mentality that leads so many people to accept SB1070 without thinking about it.