LDS Church ‘deeply troubled by aggressive, insensitive treatment’ of families at U.S.-Mexico border

U.S. Border Patrol agents process children separated from their families after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border at the Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 19, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released a statement decrying the separation of children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The strongly worded statement, released Monday on the Church’s website, mormonnewsroom.org, is its most pointed criticism to date of the newly implemented U.S. immigration policies championed by the Trump administration.

The Church statement is as follows:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long expressed its position that immigration reform should strengthen families and keep them together. The forced separation of children from their parents now occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border is harmful to families, especially to young children. We are deeply troubled by the aggressive and insensitive treatment of these families. While we recognize the right of all nations to enforce their laws and secure their borders, we encourage our national leaders to take swift action to correct this situation and seek for rational, compassionate solutions.

Children separated from family members after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are held at the Border Patrol Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol)

Monday’s statement reinforces the Church’s previous stance on immigration.

In 2011, LDS leaders announced their support of the Utah Compact, a declaration of guiding principles for immigration reform endorsed by the Church and a wide coalition of community leaders.

The Compact’s five core principles are as follows:

FEDERAL SOLUTIONS: Immigration is a federal policy issue between the U.S. government and other countries — not Utah and other countries. We urge Utah’s congressional delegation, and others, to lead efforts to strengthen federal laws and protect our national borders. We urge state leaders to adopt reasonable policies addressing immigrants in Utah.

LAW ENFORCEMENT: We respect the rule of law and support law enforcement’s professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code.

FAMILIES: Strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.

ECONOMY: Utah is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. We acknowledge the economic role immigrants play as workers and taxpayers. Utah’s immigration policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.

A FREE SOCIETY: Immigrants are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.

Children separated from their families after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are detained at the Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol)

The LDS Church isn’t the only religious organization to condemn the federal policy  separating children from their parents.

Last week at a gathering of 300 Catholic bishops in Ft. Lauderdale a statement released on behalf of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo called the Trump administration policy “immoral.”

“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma,” the statement read. “Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together.

“Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

In early June 2018, the Department of Homeland Security announced nearly 2,000 children had been separated from their parents after crossing the border in April and May.

DHS spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters that between April 19 and May 31, 1,995 minors were taken from adults who said they were their guardians. The adults were arrested as part of the department’s new “zero-tolerance” policy to prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally, including some seeking asylum.

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