Approved by a 7-2 vote of the Scroll editorial board.
The past several weeks have been filled with hatred toward border law enforcement and emotional stories of family separation at the border.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement on June 18 detailing the belief that the separation of families at the US-Mexico border was insensitive and harmful. They also recognized the rights of all nations to enforce the law and secure their borders.
By June 20, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end the splitting up of immigrant families. According to the executive order, the zero-tolerance policy still stands in relation to illegal border crossings, but during apprehension, security will “maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings.”
While the separation of families at the border is troubling, another problem exists. We can justify retaining familial relations, but we cannot justify those who break the law.
We at Scroll believe in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law. A practice that is taught in the most basic beliefs of the Church. However, while we believe in upholding the laws of the land, we also believe in changing laws for the better.
In a 2011 release from the Church, it states, “As a matter of policy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discourages its members from entering any country without legal documentation, and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.” This belief, however, does not keep anyone from baptism or receiving the blessings of the temple.
Although difficult to track, the Federation for American Immigration Reform reported in 2017 that there are approximately 12.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
There is no doubt that there are illegal immigrants in the United States who are hardworking, looking for a better life and can contribute positively to our society and diversity. But entering the U.S. illegally, or any country illegally leads to beginning your life there with an immense burden.
Immigrating to the United States is a difficult task that can, and usually, takes several years. According to U.S. Immigration Software Online, even the child of someone who is already a U.S. citizen could wait up to six years for a visa.
The legislation currently in place in the United States makes it difficult for those seeking a better life to come here without breaking immigration laws. We as citizens should advocate for change so people wishing to come to the U.S. can do so legally.
In 1909, British author Israel Zangwill coined the phrase “The Melting Pot” to describe the freedom and safety that comes with becoming a citizen of the United States. With the current laws, it is becoming more and more difficult to partake of that dream legally.
If we want to continue to live and boast as a country that houses cultures and people from all different walks of life, we have to make getting here easier. We have to make legal immigration possible.
Isai Mendoza, an international student from Peru and a senior studying construction management, has a student visa.
“Obtaining citizenship is a long and difficult process unless I marry an American citizen,” Mendoza said. “But I will not marry for that purpose.”
Mendoza said he plans to stay in the U.S. after graduating and work toward obtaining a work visa and, eventually, residency. Despite the difficulties of obtaining citizenship, Mendoza said that while the topic of entering the U.S. without proper paperwork is a delicate issue, he strongly disagrees with illegal immigration.
The American citizens made their voices heard with their disdain for the separation of families and an executive order was passed to end that practice. If we want to make legal immigration possible, we must make our voices heard again.
Illegal immigration cannot be the answer. There is no right way to break the law. John Locke, an English philosopher and a widely-known Enlightenment thinker, said, “The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom: for in all the states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom.”
We have the ability as citizens to vote and make our voices heard. We can write to our representatives. We can justify the need for change and work toward advancements, but we cannot justify breaking the law.