LDS Church repeats call for 'civil discourse' on immigration

Published: Saturday, July 17 2010 8:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — With "Utah's list" and "Arizona's legislation" being the buzz words of late, the local spotlight on immigration now moves to Gov. Gary Herbert's upcoming roundtable discussion Tuesday morning.

And the LDS Church — which was invited to provide one of the 30 participating roundtable representatives — has repeated its call for "careful reflection and civil discourse" regarding immigration issues.

When Herbert first announced the event earlier this month, the immigration focus was Arizona's controversial, divisive legislation and Utah's role in state reform.

Trumping that was last week's public release of a list of 1,300 supposedly illegal immigrants, a list compiled by what Herbert called a "small rogue group" of state employees. The list's release has prompted a state investigation and has drawn leaders from both sides of the hotly contested issue to unite in a call for civility.

And that sets the tone for Tuesday's roundtable, mirroring the latest statement on immigration reform from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"The complex issues surrounding immigration are a matter of increasing concern and debate for all in this country," said LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy in response to the Deseret News' questions on immigration issues.

"Elected individuals have the primary responsibility to find solutions in the best interests of all whose lives will be impacted by their actions," Purdy continued.

"We repeat our appeal for careful reflection and civil discourse when addressing immigration issues. Finding a successful resolution will require the best thinking and good will of all across the political spectrum, the highest levels of statesmanship, and the strongest desire to do what is best for all of God's children."

In helping consider immigration reform that best serves Utah's interest, Herbert's roundtable will be composed of a diverse group of representatives from government, law enforcement, business, minorities and faith-based communities.

Invitees range from Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, who looks to push an Arizona-style immigration bill, to Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake, who opposes it. Others include Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Lane Beattie and officials from the Utah Association of Counties and the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

Interest in the initial roundtable and requests from organizational leaders to participate far exceeded Herbert's set number of 30 individuals, said Angie Welling, the governor's spokeswoman.

"It's to facilitate a discussion where all get in the same room and really listen, and hopefully that will inject a lot of thoughtfulness and a lot of respect," Welling said.

"It's a listening exercise," she added. "Most participants will spend two minutes talking and two hours listening."

Utah Immigration Roundtable Discussion

Tuesday, 10 a.m. to noon

Room 210, Utah Senate Building, Utah State Capitol

(limited public seating available)

Live online streaming at www.utah .gov/governor

e-mail: taylor@desnews.com

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