“I intend to work against the agenda of the LDS Church in Utah and across America as long as your church continues to try to aid and abet illegal aliens in violation of our existing federal laws.”
The message from Americans for Legal Immigration, or ALIPAC, is clear: the Mormon Church needs to get in line, or else. William Gheen, the President of ALIPAC, is mobilizing his supporters to take action against the Church—even to threaten its tax exempt status—over their stance on immigration. The quote above is an exerpt from a sample phone script sent to ALIPAC supporters to read when they call the Church.
ALIPAC claims that the Church and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are the real power behind the recent approach taken by the state, which includes heightened enforcement measures for those arrested for felonies and serious misdemeanors, but also creates a state guest worker program in partnership with the federal government.
“They are going to deny involvement with this Amnesty”, ALIPAC claims, except that the Church has already publicly stated its support of the Utah Compact, a broad-based document that emphasizes family unity, federal solutions to immigration and maintaining the focus of law enforcement on serious criminal activity. ALIPAC is claiming now that the Church of Latter-day Saints is secretly doing something worth revoking its tax exempt status.
The passage of HB 116 irked the fringe right because it hoped to pick up more steam in western states for Arizona-style enforcement. Instead, they were shot down in one of the most conservative states in the country. The rebuke left one Republican state representative to complain that “People think we’ll be seen as compassionate”. How tragic.
Unfortunately, the state also recently repealed the Utah DREAM Act. It did, however, reserve the right to in-state tuition for undocumented students who could prove that their parents paid taxes in the state for three years prior to enrollment.
ALIPAC tends to call anything short of door-to-door raids an amnesty with a capital ‘A’ (they actually always capitalize it), but despite the guest worker program, HB 116 is still an expansion of police power to enforce immigration law. However, since the Utah law explicitly states that law enforcement officers can only use those new powers during serious crimes, minor traffic violations or immigration status alone won’t be grounds for detention. Basically, since it can’t be abused as a dragnet like Secure Communities or 287(g) are, ALIPAC doesn’t like it.
ALIPAC is telling the LDS Church that they’re coming for them. In Utah. Somehow I doubt the Church is scared of threats from William Gheen.