Mark Paredes offered balanced remarks on the troubling current immigration debate in his Jews and Mormons blog this week. One of the best paragraphs appears below, but read the entire article in the Jewish Journal.
I believe that discussion of this issue by Latter-day Saints and Jews should avoid extremist positions on either side. Words have meanings: people who come to this country to work hard and improve their lot in life are not “criminals” for breaking an immigration law. Unless illegal immigrants are committing serious crimes, they are not criminals, and we would do well to avoid demonizing them. An oft-repeated Jewish theme is the religious obligation to show kindness to strangers: “Thou shalt not vex a stranger, nor oppress him, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Ex. 22:21), “Love ye therefore the stranger” (Lev. 10:19). On the other hand, Latter-day Saints definitely believe in the rule of law: “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land” (D&C 58:21), “We believe in…obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Twelfth Article of Faith). A Jewish equivalent would be the Talmudic principle of dina d’malchuta dina (“the law of the kingdom is the law”). It is obscene to label those who support stronger immigration enforcement at a state level as racists, Nazis, or advocates of apartheid (charges that have been leveled by public figures in recent days). The recently-passed Arizona immigration law (sponsored by a Mormon legislator) targets people who are suspected of being illegal immigrants, not citizens or legal residents. By way of contrast, the Nazis threw millions of their citizens into ghettos, concentration camps, gas chambers, and crematoria. Apartheid stripped millions of black South Africans of their citizenship, confined them to “homelands” in their own country, and required them to have special passes to live and work among whites. There is no comparison whatsoever between any immigration law in this country and Nazism or apartheid, and advocates of increased immigration enforcement deserve to have their concerns addressed in a respectful manner. I was glad to see the Simon Wiesenthal Center and ADL publicly denounce these ill-considered Holocaust references, which have no place in this debate.