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Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, opposes Obama’s immigration plan but he said that doesn’t put him out of line with the LDS Church. He argues that Congress should pass smaller, less controversial measures on border security and the visa program now instead of trying for one major bill.
"The only way we get to where the church wants to be is when we get Democrats and Republicans agreeing," said Chaffetz, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. "And when we do have common ground we should vote and pass that and move to the next step."
Like Utah’s other members of Congress, Chaffetz has resisted any pathway to citizenship that doesn’t require immigrants to leave the country first, a requirement that Obama considers unreasonable.
Chaffetz has discussed immigration reform with LDS officials, including L. Tom Perry and Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve, the body just below the First Presidency. He said they both urged federal action on the topic but did not get into what specific policies they would like to see.
Uchtdorf also put distance between religious values and the more practical nature of politics in his comments to The Tribune.
"Politics is different than what we as a church have, values," he said. "They have to find a compromise. They have to have a give and take."
Rev. Luis Gomez, the president of Esperanza, a Latino faith-based group, also attended the meeting and he said the participation of faith leaders from more conservative faiths such as the LDS Church and the Southern Baptist Convention shows that the issue isn’t partisan.
"It’s a human issue and it’s a religious issue," he said. "All of us have an understanding of the stranger and who our neighbor is. We need this addressed."
Barrett Duke with the Southern Baptist Convention, like Uchtdorf, said Obama’s goals match that of his faith.
"I feel like the principles they laid out are very much in line with the principles the Southern Baptists have already adopted," he said. "I feel like we can easily see immigration reform accomplished by this summer."
That’s the time frame Obama has pushed. A bipartisan group of senators, which includes Florida Republican Marco Rubio, has released its own guiding principles that are close to what Obama is pushing. A group of House members is working on a similar plan, though to date no legislation has been made public.
José Gómez, the Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, said the president asked the faith leaders "to pray for the comprehensive immigration reform and to work together for the good of immigrants in our country."
And when asked if the faith leaders are on the same page as the president, he said: "I think we are."
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