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Illegal Immigration and House Bill 109 Stir Up Controversy

   |  Posted Feb 26th, 2004 @ 11:52am


Carole Mikita Reporting

Controversy on Capitol Hill as both the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Mexican consulate make it clear they don't like the way a bill about illegal immigration is being handled.

It was unusual, but not unclear -- the Church issued a public statement that it doesn't want to be part of the debate over a bill the Mexican government says is blatant discrimination.

The issue has become very heated and it's very complicated, involving a bill in the legislature, an immigration reform group, Mexican I.D. cards and apparently temple recommends.

Joe Reyna, Advisor, Institute of Mexicans Abroad: "The group, Utahns for Immigration Reform and enforcement, led by Mr. Matt Throckmorton, have one objective in mind and one only -- to promote hatred against the Mexican people living in the state of Utah."

George Monsivais/ spokesman The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: "The Church is investigating complaints that Utahns for Immigration Reform are citing Church teachings as apparent justification for their political positions.”

Those very strong statements came during a news conference in the Capitol rotunda this morning. Both the Church and the Mexican Consul are concerned, for different reasons, about House Bill 109, preventing illegal immigration. Passage of that bill would make an I.D. card issued through the consulate, illegal.

Rep. Mike Thompson, (R) Orem: "I don't know what they're complaining about, the Mexican consular card is a Mexican I.D. that does not say they're here legally. And all we're saying is we have specifically delineated language of what they have to do to prove that they are here legally."

At the consulate they showed us the process to get the I.D., called a metricula --three forms of I.D. required-- and the database that stores that information.

Arturo Chavarria Balleza, Consul of Mexico: "We want to be sure that people who obtain a metricula consular is really Mexican national, and we are sure about his identity."

As for the church's concern, apparently immigration reform members pushing for this bill are quoting church tenets about obeying laws and suggesting immigrants shouldn't obtain temple recommends -- or permission to enter a temple -- without legal documentation.

The member of the board of Utahns for Immigration Reform who was citing church doctrine has resigned, but the future of this bill is still undecided.

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