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Romney's immigration stance draws fire from Latino Mormons

Published February 20, 2012 12:58 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney is betraying his church with his hard-edged stand on immigration.At least that's the view of some Latino Mormon activists who cite immigration stories in the church's signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, and the Utah-based faith's overt support of compassion for undocumented immigrants. These Latinos also "view Romney's stance against proposals giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship as hypocritical," The Associated Press reported, "since Romney's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, who had five wives and 30 children, sought refuge in Mexico after passage of an 1882 law that barred polygamy."The activists have rallied supporters at Mormon-sponsored gatherings known as "firesides," protested outside Romney's campaign events and worked to defeat "other Mormon politicians with similar harsh immigration stances.""We view immigration as a God event," Ignacio Garcia, a history professor at Brigham Young University and a Sunday school teacher at his Mormon ward, told the AP. "The Book [of Mormon] says no one comes to the land unless they are brought by God."Latino Latter-day Saints make up about 7 percent of Mormons in the United States, the AP story said. "The number of Spanish-speaking units has grown from 403 in 2001 to nearly 800 last year."Latino Mormons, even activists, may not have an impact on Arizona's upcoming Republican primary, however, because "most are illegal immigrants and can't vote," the article said. "Those who can, [Garcia] said, lean toward moderate Democratic candidates."Peggy Fletcher Stack