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Faith leaders call for compassion during immigration roundtable

By Carole Mikita | Posted - Jul. 20, 2010 at 5:06 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Gov. Gary Herbert invited a few representatives from Utah's faith community to participate in Tuesday's roundtable discussion on immigration.

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All of those who talked from a faith perspective say they feel a responsibility to speak out on this issue. Community advocate Pamela Atkinson was the first and the strongest voice when it came to asking for meaningful dialogue.

"I am tired of the lack of civility, I'm tired of the hatred, and I'm tired of the hostility," Atkinson said. "I think Utahns, the majority of Utahns, are above that; and I love the fact that so many Utahns reach out and love one another and help one another regardless of race, color, religion."

"We believe that all of us are brothers and sisters under God, and that includes citizens and non-citizens," said Dee Rowland, representing the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City. "Our pastors do not ask legal status of their parishioners, but they feel the pain of families who are living in the shadows trying to feed their families."

Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said, "As a member of national Hispanic organizations, I can tell you we are being watched on how we handle this -- maybe because it's clear of the LDS Church's influence in our community that we can and must do better."

Scott Parker, who heads the Salt Lake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was at Tuesday's meeting, but only as an observer.

Church leaders issued a statement on the immigration issue Monday. CLICK HERE to read it.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

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