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LDS leader, Obama meet to push for immigration reform

Published April 21, 2014 11:38 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • A top LDS Church official joined fellow faith leaders to meet with President Barack Obama on Tuesday, urging action on immigration reform that has so far stalled in Congress.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Thomas S. Monson, said outside the White House that he's hopeful for a break in the partisan logjam preventing meaningful reform.

"There are many programs and actions that the president or the administration is standing for, for which we have opposing views," Uchtdorf told reporters. But "in regard to this with immigration, we certainly hope that a values-based, balanced approach to this reform is coming about and not being delayed by small things, which can be resolved by common consent and common sense. And we hope that this time around the communities and the nation pull together and find a solution to this problem, which could be resolved in a Christian ... way."

It was the Mormon leader's second trip to the White House to meet with Obama, and he reaffirmed the LDS Church's values line up with the proposals the president has put forward that would allow a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.

Uchtdorf, a German immigrant who came to the United States legally, met Obama in the Oval Office with other faith leaders, including Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church.

The White House said during the closed-door meeting that the faith leaders shared their own stories about the impact of a broken immigration system, and Obama said he has "deep concern" about the pain families feel from the separation occurring in the immigration communities. The president said his administration can take some actions to enforce and administer immigration laws but it is up to Congress to find a permanent solution, according to the White House.

The Senate last year passed legislation that would allow immigrants to eventually seek citizenship, but the measure has been held up in the House.

While House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had initially said he would bring up legislation to deal with the 11.7 million undocumented immigrants in the country, he has since said that his caucus isn't sure it can trust the president with implementing the law.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who was in Washington on Tuesday, also said he supports passing immigration reform and backs a path to legal status but not citizenship.

"Most all Americans want to have comprehensive immigration reform," he said. "Doing nothing is not the answer, so doing something is the answer. The debate is always what is the something to do. We need to come together and find out — with an adherence to the law, which has to be the foundation — what are we willing to do."