Former Arizona State Senator Karen Johnson
February 4, 2012
Much of the discussion about what to do about illegal immigration comes from churches. Since there is much to criticize in the policies and activities of various churches, I should probably start the discussion with my own church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
It's important to understand that the LDS Church does not claim infallibility for its church leaders. There is no Pope. Its leaders, including the Church President, are mortal men subject to mortal weakness and error. Many LDS Church members, however, have the mistaken belief that every word uttered by a church leader comes straight from God. This infantile attitude excuses church members from having to think for themselves and figure things out. It absolves them from having to study, ponder, and make hard decisions about political issues and candidates. It places undue burdens on Church leaders to carefully weigh every word they write or speak. Finally, it places serious burdens on legislators when Church members think the lawmakers are not being sufficiently obedient to the perceived wishes of the church. Elected officials are not obliged to follow the opinions of Church leaders in making policy decisions.
Some members also believe that anything that comes from within spitting distance of the church's headquarters in Salt Lake City is divinely inspired and not open to question or debate. That, of course, is ridiculous. Church employees are human beings. They have weaknesses. They make mistakes. They have opinions. Some of them apparently have political agendas.
In the Spring of 2011, the LDS Church Public Communications Department issued three "official" statements on immigration. While ostensibly meant to clarify the Church position, the statements actually further muddied the issue. The very fact that there were three different statements in quick succession suggests that the statements were incomplete or incorrect, and required revision. In addition, the statements were pointedly hostile toward state legislators, were filled with political propaganda, and contained conflicting contradictory messages.
One statement contains the following passage:
"... 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."
While it has a nice ring to it, that statement doesn't actually make much sense. If a policy is worthy of becoming a law, it is worthy of enforcement. Many laws have enforcement provisions. There's nothing unusual or sinister about an enforcement provision in a law. Enforcement makes a law work. Enforcement makes a society safe, orderly, and civil. High moral standards are enhanced by the appropriate enforcement of law. When laws cease to be enforced, then disorder, chaos, and anarchy result. That statement is simply not true.
Why, then, would such a statement appear as a policy position of the LDS Church, which otherwise supports obedience to law and protection of our border? The answer is that the author of the church statement appears to have derived his or her arguments from the writings of Leftist advocates of open borders. The church statement is loaded with propaganda terms used by the Left to spin the argument in favor of open borders. The "enforcement-only" argument is a good example. Demonizing so-called "enforcement-only" provisions in law comes straight from the propaganda playbook of the radical Left.
And what might the high moral standard be? The implication is that it's the standard of those who propose amnesty. This is the standard that tells foreigners to just "Come on in, y'all. Never mind the law, because eventually you will get amnesty." Under this standard, the flood will continue, including criminals, rapists, identity thieves, drug dealers, human smugglers, welfare seekers, terrorists, and a horde of third-worlders who will soon overwhelm the capacity of the U.S. to assimilate them. This is the standard that sees no value in American culture and doesn't seem to mind that our culture will evaporate as our children are assimilated into the bleak cultural abyss of whatever comes across the border. That is, if they survive the influence of the drug cartels, human smugglers, and terrorists. This is the standard of chaos and cultural suicide. If that's the high moral standard, then we are in deep and terrible trouble. I suggest that the real high moral standard is the one which demonstrates a commitment to honoring and obeying the law and the U.S. Constitution.
All of this controversy, of course, is about Arizona's state law on immigration (SB1070), which put into state statute the important federal laws that were being ignored. My state senator, Sylvia Allen, has beautifully explained the need for laws like SB1070: "We don't have a fence on the border. In the absence of a fence, laws are the only way we have of protecting our border. Laws discourage illegal entry into the U.S., just as a proper fence would, although not always as effectively. Lacking a fence, the law is all we have. The law is our fence. Take away the law, and you erase our border altogether."
Another example of propaganda in the LDS church statements appears in the following passage:
"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."
There are two problems with this passage. First, it incorrectly equates two different types of events: deportation and mass expulsion. Mass expulsion is a political term that denotes a genocidal attack on an entire population that drives them out of their home country. It is usually a politically motivated assault on a particular ethnic or religious group. Kosovo, Rwanda, and the Holocaust are examples of mass expulsions. Deportation, on the other hand, is quite different. Deportation is the removal of individuals who have either entered a country illegally or who have violated the law or become otherwise undesirable, even if they entered legally. Deporting someone who has entered the country illegally is not a mass expulsion. Mass expulsion involves the illegal ejection of a citizen. Deportation is the legal ejection of a NONcitizen. Mass expulsion is directed against whole classes of people, based on religious beliefs or ethnicity. Deportation is directed against individuals based on individual behavior. Mass expulsion is a lawless event accomplished by force. Deportation is an orderly procedure that occurs after a legal proceeding. Mass expulsion violates the lawful rights of citizens. Deportation protects the rights of citizens by curtailing the lawlessness of noncitizens. Mass expulsion takes a person OUT of his home country. Deportation returns a person TO his home country.
It is simply inaccurate to use the term mass expulsion for deportation. The Left, however, intentionally transposes these terms all the time to confuse and propagandize the issue. That is, to inflame emotions, incite ill will, and unfairly paint as a racist any legislator who supports enforcement of law. It is a classic example of the character assassination employed by the Left to demonize those who oppose them. I do not believe that the deceptive Marxist technique of character assassination came from the leaders of my church. I believe it came from one or more agenda-driven, politicized individuals in the Church Public Communications Department who wrote those statements.
The second problem with that statement is the pious warning against "targeting any one group, particularly if that group comes mostly from one heritage." This incorrectly implies that lawmakers who have supported legislation that deals with illegal immigration have targeted certain ethnic groups in a racist, discriminatory way. But it is the crime that is being targeted, not any particular ethnic group. Whether the illegal alien is Chinese, Mexican, Pakistani, or British (ethnic groups which have been among those arrested for illegal border crossing), it is the crime of entering the country illegally that is the focus, not ethnicity. To suggest otherwise is an insult to the good legislators who have tried to solve the serious problems of illegal immigration. It is also another false argument commonly employed by the radical Left.
false Leftist argument in the church statement is the claim that the issue
of illegal immigration "is one that must ultimately be resolved
by the federal government." That is simply not true. The federal
government does not have exclusive jurisdiction over immigration law.
Furthermore, states may enforce laws passed by the federal government.
Insisting that only the federal government can solve the problem serves the Leftist goal of open borders because it guarantees that the borders will remain open. The federal government has had more than 20 years under both Republican and Democratic administrations to implement immigration laws already on the books, but they have not acted. Leaving immigration law enforcement up to the federal government means that the flood of illegals into our country will continue, and the resulting problems will increase. Leftists would like everyone to swallow the argument that the states have no right to pass laws regarding illegal immigration because Leftists don't want to stop the flood. They would like everyone to embrace Karl Marx's dream of a classless, borderless society. If it were up to the Left, there would be no borders at all.
Elected officials work in a minefield of lies, mistruths, half-truths, deceit, manipulation, propaganda, incivility, and other unsavory aspects of the human soul. While some may succumb to the pressure of elected office, the good ones rise above the muck and do the honorable thing to the best of their ability. Contrary to recent comments coming out of Utah by both church leaders and organizations like the Sutherland Institute and Sunstone magazine, these good politicians are not driven by bigotry, xenophobia, or hatred, and they are justified in rejecting suggestions that they are. Politicians like Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce and Utah State Representative Stephen Sandstrom who have sponsored laws like SB1070 are motivated by a desire to honor the Constitution, protect American citizens, handle taxpayer funds responsibly, live up to their oath of office, and protect the best interests of their respective states and the U.S. The Church may be frustrated after years of dealing with the difficult problems of illegal immigration, but character assassination isn't helpful. The solutions of the Left will lead to chaos and ultimately destroy our country.
When the Church embraced the Utah Compact and issued its multiple, stumbling statements on immigration, it threw good legislators under the bus. It also threw entire congregations into turmoil as immigration wars broke out among church members throughout the country. The worst aspect of the blazing contention that arose among church members was that there were no answers. Faced with a variety of contradictory church policy statements, the disagreements could not be resolved. They could only be argued ... endlessly.
Ultimately, many church members lost respect for church leadership at all levels as they observed the use of deception, slander, and other Marxist tools to further an unconstitutional political agenda. When LDS elected officials oppose the Utah Compact and the messages of the 2011 church statements on immigration, they are not rejecting Church leadership; they are rejecting Marxism. Church members have a choice. They can make the effort to learn correct principles, including the Church's long-standing policies regarding the U.S. Constitution, obedience to law, and immigration, or they can let the radicals in the Church Public Communications Department do their thinking for them.
It is appropriate for churches, individuals, and charitable nonprofit organizations to relieve the suffering of the homeless, the hungry, the feeble, and others who are in need, even if they came to the U.S. without permission. Charity and humanitarian efforts are the realm of those organizations and individuals. Government, however, is not a charity. The role of government is to protect the rights and liberty of its citizens. That concept may have been forgotten, but it is still a true principle. Our government does not exist to help the suffering people of the world, including every suffering foreigner who wants to live in the U.S. Thomas Sowell expressed this idea well in a recent column:
"The purpose of American immigration laws and policies is not to be either humane or inhumane to illegal immigrants. The purpose of immigration laws and policies is to serve the national interest of this country. There is no inherent right to come live in the United States, in disregard of whether the American people want you here. Nor does the passage of time confer any such right retroactively."
Mr. Sowell is absolutely correct.
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The leaders of the LDS Church may not have recognized the propaganda buried in the Utah Compact or the inflammatory, deceptive language of the statements issued by the Church Public Communications Department. But the creators of the Compact and the authors of the Church statements knew perfectly well what it all meant. They selected their words carefully and subtly embedded the propaganda into both the Compact and the Church statements. To the degree that the authors knew what they were doing, they are guilty of deceiving the Church leadership. Meanwhile, the rest of us must deal with the aftermath. The radical Left, emboldened by their success in Utah and Arizona, is marketing the Utah Compact to state legislatures all over the country. They have already started planning which honorable state legislators to take out in the November 2012 elections. Those being targeted are, of course, those most loyal to the U.S. Constitution. Those doing the targeting are anti-American Marxists and socialists in alliance with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose sole interest is profit, and the Catholic Church, which took a hard-left turn years ago. Thanks to the duplicitous and incompetent political meddling of the LDS Church's Public Communications Department, some of our best elected officials are targeted for defeat this year. Politics can be a dangerous game.
© 2012 Karen Johnson - All Rights Reserved
1. "Gingrich and Immigration," by Thomas Sowell, Jewish World Review, Nov. 29, 2011.
Karen Johnson served in the Arizona legislature for 12 years, from 1997 through 2004 (AZ House of Representatives) and 2005 - 2008 (AZ Senate). Her all-time favorite committee assignment was chairing the Federal Mandates and States' Rights Committee. During her service in the legislature, she supported the Second Amendment, individual, property and of course states rights, as well as the Right to Life, and she still does. Karen and her husband, Jerry, have 11 children and 35 grandchildren. She believes strongly in the doctrine of liberty and does not desire to be tethered to ANY particular party.