Friday, March 06, 2009

Illegal immigrants as missionaries

My understanding of church policy is that the church sends out worth missionaries whether they be legally here in the US or not.
I know that immigration status is no barrier to baptism, temple worthiness, etc.
We have a couple of Hispanic Elders in our ward right now; two missionaries in our ward our spanish-speaking.
I was a ward missionary in our ward, and so I had a chance to speak with one of the elders. He's from Mexico, although he attended school in Utah (Riverton High School, actually). His English is great, he played sports and took AP classes in high school. He's an effective missionary, he works hard, and I've been entirely impressed by him since he transferred into our ward (he's been here about as long as we have--since July).
And I started wondering--is he here legally or not?
And then--does it matter? The xenophobes will have you believe that illegal immigrants are bad guys, that they broke laws and must be punished, that they don't deserve to be here. They've become the scapegoat for all of our problems. Immigrants have never been especially liked, regardless of whether they were Asians, Irish, etc. But the new rant of "but they're illegal" adds a new dimension to the xenophobia.
The church hasn't taken a strong official stand on the issue...but it's certainly illegal-immigrant friendly, at least in practice. The church has also stated that we need to show compassion on the issue.
Do church members follow the church's example on this point?


Brentwell said...

This was a good post. I have fallen for stereotyping of illegal immigrants. It would be interesting to get some statistics on illegal immigrants such as how many are on food stamps vs. working 2 jobs, etc. Perhaps there are less lazy among the lot crossing from Mexico than among natural born citizens.

JorgenMan said...

Yeah, the "they broke a law, and that's that" argument has always seemed pretty weak to me. This is a classic logical fallacy:

1. Some immoral things are illegal.
2. X is illegal.
3. X is immoral.

In other words, something being illegal is a pretty lousy argument for why it is wrong to do.

Katrina said...

I have known a few young latino men who have had to go back to their country of origin to receive their mission calls, as the Church believes so strongly in following the law. So, though the person might have lived in the U.S. for most of his life, he goes back to Mexico, or wherever, for a couple months to wait for his call. My guess is that the elder in our ward is actually legal.

Katrina said...

P.S. I agree with the other commenters.

Tim said...

I admit I wasn't able to find out much about the procedure for missionaries.
I do know that the church gets involved in laws, etc. to make sure that they can't be sued for sending out missionaries that aren't legally here.
I also know that we sometimes do missionary work in places we're not really supposed to (legally) be doing it in--I've had friends that have had to lie about their reasons for being in a country.
So, yes, we believe in following the law...but sometimes, if laws are stupid, we believe more strongly in following a higher law. And we definitely believe in being a force to help change laws.

Tim said...

And thanks for the info. I'll continue to try to look into it in more depth. If anyone finds any information about the church's policy in sending illegal immigrants out into the mission field, let me know and send me the source/link.

Woodine said...
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