Fifteen Declarations on Ethical Immigration Policy

January 22, 2018

Mormon Women for Ethical Government is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for ethical governance. We are greatly disheartened by the current state of affairs in Washington, but we have not lost hope in the ability of everyday Americans who love this country to persuade our political leaders to do what is right.

We acknowledge that immigration is a complex topic with many potential points of philosophical and practical debate. It is for this reason that a balanced and civil approach to reform is so desperately needed. We want to contribute to that approach, and we have taken the liberty of providing the following 15 statements describing our vision of ethical immigration policy which we believe will appeal to the broadest possible cross-section of Americans.

In addition to immediate protections for Dreamers and TPS recipients, we urge Congress to begin working on comprehensive immigration reform. We encourage all responsible citizens to join in this important discussion by educating yourselves, engaging in civil debate, articulating your values and positions, and then reaching out to your Congressional representatives to share your ideas. If you agree with our statements, please share them with your friends and your representatives. We all have a duty to participate in making our democracy strong. Now is not the time for disinterest, disillusionment, blame, or apathy. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Please join us.

1) We believe that society is stronger when families are together. The forced separation of caring family members hurts not only individual families but also communities at large, impacting them socially, emotionally, spiritually, culturally, financially, and otherwise. We believe the politicized vilification of so-called “chain migration” is based on a misunderstanding of current immigration law and would be more appropriately described as family reunification.

2) We believe that laws or policies that have the effect of creating groups of second class citizens are immoral and dishonor this country’s many hard-won battles for civil rights and the honored protections enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment. We support the current requirements for permanent residency as a precursor to citizenship, and we believe any attempts to lengthen waiting periods for fully-vetted immigrants to seek legal permanent residency or citizenship amount to political posturing that does not serve society at large. We believe it violates the basic premise of our American creed to grant someone citizenship or legal residency and then deny any of the fundamental rights associated with his or her respective status, such as the right to vote, the right to sponsor qualifying family members, the right to travel, the right to work, etc.

3) We believe that strong border security is vital to the welfare of our nation and should be carefully designed to be truly protective from actual threats to the safety of our citizens. We also believe it should be accomplished in the absolute most cost-efficient way. We reject the premise that every person attempting to cross a border without express permission is by definition a threat.

4) We believe it is inherently unethical to offer someone protections or privileges based on extenuating circumstances and then withdraw them arbitrarily or based solely on changed political priorities. Although we acknowledge that general enforcement policies will change according to the political convictions of the party in power, it is wrong to target and/or penalize people who have relied upon the protections offered and have consistently complied with the government’s requests.

5) We believe that deportation and the resulting separation of individuals from their communities, friends, and families is a severe punishment that is often disproportionate to many of the actions that trigger removal proceedings. We urge Congress to discontinue the use of deportation as punishment for minor violations and instead impose fair and proportional penalties that give people of good moral character the opportunity to rectify past behavior and move forward toward eventual citizenship.

6) We reject the kind of zero-sum thinking that insists that immigrants categorically deprive Americans of jobs. We demand that policy-makers take a more accurate and nuanced approach that recognizes the many economic contributions made by immigrants.

7) We believe that our limited immigration enforcement resources should be carefully used to protect our society from dangerous immigrants with serious criminal records, as opposed to simply rounding up otherwise law-abiding and valued members of our communities. We are opposed, based on principle and pragmatism, to the federal government’s use of local law enforcement agencies to perform the functions of immigration enforcement.

8) We decry the use of private detention facilities to detain children, families, and non-threatening individuals who are awaiting asylum hearings. It is immoral and un-American to threaten incarceration and the inhumane disregard of a person’s inalienable rights as a so-called deterrent against those fleeing insufferable violence and even life-threatening conditions in their home countries.

9) We believe it is unethical and in conflict with time-honored values to pursue and detain harmless people at hospitals, places of worship, courthouses, and schools. The health of our democracy depends on our continued respect for these sacred institutions.

10) We believe that individuals seeking asylum or facing removal proceedings, especially children, should be provided with qualified legal assistance. Because deportation is at times a more detrimental punishment than imprisonment, it is unethical and contrary to our commitment to justice to impose such harsh and life-altering penalties upon those who are incapable of effectively representing themselves.

11) We believe immigration laws and enforcement policies should be carefully crafted to protect rather than impede the rights and interests of US citizens, including employers, employees, business customers, teachers, religious groups, and community members who often suffer when otherwise law-abiding immigrants are suddenly deported. US citizen sponsors of immigrants, in particular, should not be so heavily burdened by expensive, lengthy, invasive, and restrictive immigration procedures and policies. We believe that it is appropriate for the law to favor qualified US citizen candidates for employment, but we urge Congress to find more creative, non-punitive enforcement measures that trust and reward US employers who honor those priorities.

12) We believe it should be much easier for individuals who have long resided here to obtain inadmissibility waivers based on clean criminal records, social and economic contributions, community ties, and good moral character. Special considerations should be given to the rights of US citizen sponsors, especially spouses of immigrants who should not be required to make decisions about love and marriage based on obscure and technical immigration laws that are virtually unknown to the general American public and whose due process rights are often jeopardized by harsh immigration laws.

13) We believe that to be philosophically anti-immigrant is to be anti-American. It is antithetical to our founding principles, our history, and our collective American identity to categorically deny others the ability to seek opportunity here. We reject any effort to ban individuals from entering the United States based solely on nationality, ethnicity, or religion.

14) We believe we have a moral obligation and a unique privilege to assist and welcome refugees in this country. We support the rigorous vetting of refugees that is already taking place and reject the oft-repeated argument that welcoming refugees of all nations into our borders is putting our citizens in danger. We strongly believe the evidence that shows refugees, by and large, are a boon and enrichment—both culturally and economically—to our great nation.

15) As mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, neighbors, teachers, church leaders, mentors, and friends, we teach our children that all people are beloved children of God and that they should be treated as such. We support an immigration system that values diversity and considers would-be immigrants on the content of their characters, not on the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, the relative wealth of their countries of origin, or any other prejudicial preference.

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About MWEG: Founded in January 2017, Mormon Women for Ethical Government (MWEG) is a 501(c)4 nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to the ideals of decency, honor, accountability, transparency, and justice in governing. Mormon Women for Ethical Government is a private organization and is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We do, however, fully sustain, honor, and support the Church’s doctrines and leaders.

Image Source: Photo by Max Ostrozhinskiy on Unsplash