LDS Church reaffirms stance on immigration

Published: Tuesday, April 15 2014 11:40 a.m. MDT

The Catholic Church is working with Obama and Congress on comprehensive immigration reform, said Bishop Wester, who serves on a Vatican committee on immigration called the Pontifical Council for Migrants.

Bishop Wester was in Washington last month and met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who is out of the country this week.

Faith leaders who don't always see eye to eye with Obama continue to do so on this issue.

"The president was warm and kind," President Uchtdorf said. "In many ways, we don't always agree with this administration, for instance on marriage and other issues. We very much agree on immigration reform."

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention, made a similar statement after the meeting, according to ABC News.

“I disagree with the president on many things, including life, marriage, religious liberty, HHS mandate," Moore said. "This is one of those issues that isn’t a red-state, blue-state divide. Most people agree, across the religious spectrum and across the political spectrum, that our immigration system is broken so we need to have a system that respects the rule of law, secures the border and finds a way forward for this country.”

Urgent need

A White House statement after the meeting says, "The faith leaders shared with the president stories about the impact the failure to fix the immigration system has on families in their congregations and communities."

"I thought what the religious leaders brought forward was important and timely," Bishop Wester said. "People, particularly families, are suffering because of our lack of reform. Religious leaders are stressing that time is of the essence. The problem is very human, very real, and real people are suffering. There is a real urgency."

The urgency extends to Congress. The Senate passed an immigration reform bill. Obama asked the faith leaders to help push a bill through the House.

"I'm convinced the people of the United States are willing and want a solution," President Uchtdorf said.

He encouraged congressional leaders to seek compromise.

"Sometimes 'compromise' is used almost as a bad word,"President Uchtdorf said. "Sometimes we have to find ways to compromise."

He said he and the other faith leaders agreed a solution is necessary now. He asked political leaders to work out the details.

"We hope they are mindful of Christian values and don't block those values because different political sides cannot agree on a solution that would bless so many families, individuals and the entire country."

A solution won't be easy.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, released a statement Tuesday that says, “We could make progress on immigration reform tomorrow if both parties could agree to approach it on a step-by-step basis — ensuring incremental reforms are implemented properly and operated effectively.

"The overwhelming majority of Congress agrees on the need to secure the border, improve enforcement and modernize our visa system. Once these long overdue changes are well and truly in place, we can discuss the best way to handle those who are here illegally — and do so in a compassionate way, while respecting the rule of law. Sadly, a small group in Congress believe the only way to do anything is to do everything all at once — regardless of whether or not it is effective, compassionate or humane. That is the major impediment to accomplishing the reforms we all agree on.”

Like President Uchtdorf and the other leaders in Tuesday's meeting, Bishop Wester is hopeful.

"We're hoping our leaders can get together and get the job done for us," he said. "It demands leadership, boldness and courage. We're really praying that'll happen for our people."

In addition to President Uchtdorf, the Rev. Cortes and Moore, the other faith leaders present at Tuesday's meeting with Obama were:

Rev. Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago

Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent, The Wesleyan Church, Fishers, Ind.

Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Atlanta

The participants also included Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, and Melissa Rogers, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com

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