Group wants Mexico to suspend visas for Mormon missionaries

Published: Saturday, Feb. 12 2011 7:44 p.m. MST

Tony Yapias of Proyecto Latino signs a document called the Utah Compact in support of immigration reform at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City last November.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — A small group of Latino Utah residents wants the president of Mexico to suspend the visas of Mormon missionaries until the LDS Church takes a stronger stand on the immigration issue.

Raúl López-Vargas says he has collected about 100 signatures on a petition that he plans to deliver to the Mexican Consulate of Salt Lake City on Monday. He is calling for Mexican President Felipe Calderón to sit down with the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and ask them to take a concrete position on immigration.

López-Vargas said he believes the LDS Church has the power to influence Utah lawmakers. "They have to say something about this problem," he said.

By not saying anything, López-Vargas believes it gives the impression that the church does not want immigrants in Utah.

"We have made our position clear on the Utah Compact and on the immigration issue," said LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter, referring to the church's support for the document backed by a wide variety of community leaders. The compact calls for laws that "properly balance love for neighbors, family cohesion, and the observance of just and enforceable laws."

Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, said he understands López-Vargas' frustration, but he doesn't believe taking action against LDS missionaries is the right thing to do.

"My personal concern, I don't like to see missionaries be used as a means to resolve our immigration problems," said Yapias, whose own son recently returned from a LDS mission. "I don't think it's a good idea. There are other ways."

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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