The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted a response on its website Tuesday to questions about its position on immigration, reiterating the church's appreciation for the passage of a package of immigration reform bills in Utah, including one that would give undocumented immigrants the right to work in the state.
"The Church has spoken a number of times about the issue of immigration," the post said. "Specifically, it has spoken in support of the Utah Compact and has described the package of bills passed by the Utah Legislature, taken together, as 'a responsible approach' to the difficult question of immigration reform."
A spokesman said the post was a response to questions from callers about the church's stance.
"Members of the public who have contacted the Church Public Affairs Department asking for the Church's position on immigration were given the response which we have also posted on the newsroom website," Scott Trotter said. "The information is meant to reiterate what we've already said multiple times, rather than serve as a new statement on the topic of immigration."
In March, the Utah Legislature passed a package of four immigration reform bills, including HB116, which was specifically mentioned in the church's post on Tuesday. HB116 would allow the state to issue guest worker permits to immigrants.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed all four bills into law on March 15, but the laws do not go into force until July 2013, and the state will need a waiver from the federal government to put HB116 into practice.
More than 2,400 people have signed an online petition supporting a repeal of HB116. The other three immigration bills in the package approved during the 2011 session provided for increased enforcement, a migrant worker program and employer verification policies.
The full post on newsroom.lds.org reads as follows:
"Members of the public who contact the Church Public Affairs Department asking for the Church's position on immigration have been given the following response:
"The Church has spoken a number of times about the issue of immigration. Specifically, it has spoken in support of the Utah Compact and has described the package of bills passed by the Utah Legislature, taken together, as 'a responsible approach' to the difficult question of immigration reform.
"The Church's position is based on three basic principles:
"The commandment to 'love thy neighbor.'
"The importance of keeping families intact.
"The federal government's obligation to secure its borders.160 comments on this story
"The Church appreciates the package of bills that the legislature had passed, including House Bill 116. The Church feels that this package was a responsible attempt to address the principles outlined above.
"The February 28 Deseret News editorial, "A Model for the Nation" also accurately reflects the position of the Church regarding immigration reform, including measures that will allow those who are now here illegally to work legally, provide for their families and become better contributing members of our community—but without establishing a path to citizenship or granting amnesty.
"The Church may speak further on this subject if it is necessary to refute any misunderstandings or correct distortions of its views that have found their way into the discussion taking place on this important topic."