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LDS Church calls on national leaders to create policy aiding 'Dreamers'

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called on national leaders Friday to create policies that provide hope and opportunities for "Dreamers."

"Dreamers" are illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors. The DREAM Act was a legislative proposal introduced in 2001, in part by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, to grant those immigrants a path to citizenship.

"They have built lives, pursued educational opportunities and been employed for years based on the policies that were in place. These individuals have demonstrated a capacity to serve and contribute positively in our society, and we believe they should be granted the opportunity to continue to do so," the church's statement reads.

The church acknowledged that, with a presence in 188 nations around the world, immigration and legal status are a concern for many of its members. Most early church members "emigrated from foreign lands to live, work and worship, blessed by the freedoms and opportunities" offered in the U.S.

While immigration is a complex and divisive issue, the church says its main priority is to love and care for one another as Jesus Christ taught. While church leadership does not advocate specific legislation, they encourage nations to create policy that will strengthen families and keep them together.

The church also acknowledges that each nation has the right to enforce its laws and secure its borders, and that citizens are accountable for their actions within the confines of those laws.

"I would like to thank the leaders of the LDS Church for their statement this morning," said Congresswoman Mia Love in an emailed statement. " Strengthening and keeping families together is also of utmost importance to me, and I applaud their encouragement to seek a balance between compassion and border security."

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams also thanked church leaders for encouraging hope and opportunities for young immigrants.

"Strengthening families is a core Utah value and is reflected in the statement on the current federal immigration debate that was issued by my church leaders today, joining their voices with leaders of other faiths in Utah,” he said.

The church's statement comes on the heels of controversy surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an immigration policy that allowed some "Dreamers" to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit.

Though President Trump has previously threatened to end the program, he has most recently been willing to compromise. The White House unveiled a proposal Thursday that provides a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants living in the country illegally, in exchange for new restrictions on legal immigration and $25 billion in border security.

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