Dear Mitt Romney,
We represent the Mormon Women for Ethical Government, a large and growing nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to the ideals of decency, honor, accountability, transparency and justice in governing.
A large percentage of our members live in Utah and would be your constituents if you were elected to replace Orrin Hatch in the United States Senate. Many of our members have supported you in the past and believe you to be a man of high moral integrity, wise judgment and firm principles.
That is why we were so disheartened to read about your remarks on Monday to a gathering of Utah County Republican women in Provo, where, among other things, you reportedly said that you are “more of a hawk on immigration than even the president.” Our hope in writing to you today is that we might persuade you to consider a more nuanced, thoughtful and ethical approach to immigration reform as you try to win the support of Utah voters, the majority of whom hold remarkably compassionate views on this particular issue.
For too long, immigration policy has been debated and decided based on political ideologies that serve politicians, but not society or its citizens. Often the loudest voices in the debate are the most polarizing ones. The result has been policies that swing like a pendulum from one philosophical extreme to another as control of the White House and Congress shifts between the parties.
While it may be tempting for politicians to use whatever power they acquire to quickly and decisively “correct course” from the policies of the previous administration, the practical implications of such a pattern are not moored in ethical principles that strengthen our country.
We need a solution that ends this toxic cycle — one that is carefully crafted to address the best interests of our country and its citizens. Policies that depend on people’s fear or misguided extreme nationalism do not lift, but rather diminish us.
The fact is that when it comes to Dreamers, a large majority of Utahns across the political spectrum agree that we should provide a way for them to stay here permanently. It is to our collective advantage to keep these young people here. Congress’ inability to pass a legislative solution over the past 17 years — and especially over the past seven months — has become increasingly frustrating to voters and symbolic of the larger problems of political entrenchment, stagnation and failure to answer to constituents.
Many of us have watched in horror as the current administration has promulgated its white-nationalist, anti-immigrant agenda, one enforcement policy after another. We have been propelled to action, some for the first time, because of this important issue, which has become somewhat of a litmus test for determining whether a politician is more committed to constituents or to scoring political points. We have been energized by official statements from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which have encouraged lawmakers to take a compassionate and principled approach.
We have lost patience with political posturing when solutions are so desperately needed. The last thing we should consider about any proposed immigration solution is whether it is “liberal” or “conservative.” Such considerations are practically meaningless and a sorry excuse for leadership or policy-making. Now is not the time for ambivalence, duplicity or pandering.
We need ethical, thoughtful, practical, long-term solutions. We need leaders who will educate themselves and others on the complexities of the immigration system instead of just parroting back common misconceptions or political talking points. We need a senator who will listen to constituents and fight for the causes we care about. We see a candidate’s willingness to work, act and speak in a bipartisan manner as a strength, not a weakness. We have formulated our own Fifteen Declarations on Ethical Immigration Policy that we believe will appeal to a broad cross-section of Utah voters. We encourage you to study them and act quickly to formulate a clear and consistent platform. We are not content to be complacent on this issue, and neither should any candidate who wishes to represent us.
Sharlee Mullins Glenn, Linda Hoffman Kimball, Diana Bate Hardy and Melissa Dalton-Bradford are the founders of the nonpartisan organization Mormon Women for Ethical Government. MWEG is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints