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Home / Articles / News / Cover Story /  Undocumented in Utah Page 3
Cover Story

Undocumented in Utah Page 3

Driven by LDS prophecy, attorney Aaron Tarin fights for undocumented immigrants clinging to the American dream.

By Stephen Dark
Posted // January 6,2010 -

HIDE AND SEEK
Inevitably, it’s at an LDS ward house that Tarin’s vocation and his religious beliefs come together.

“As an LDS attorney, the Lamanite prophecy that says if you follow the commandments you will never be held captive, has great significance to me,” he says.

One icy Sunday morning in late November, he arrives with his wife, Amber, and their two children at a Lehi ward house just off Interstate 15.

“If you think Mormons are fertile, Hispanic Mormons are even more fertile,” he jokes as he takes a seat at the back of the rapidly filling Hispanic ward. Indeed, it’s hard to hear the service at times for the crying of infants.

immigration_Lawyer2.jpgDeportation for family-committed Hispanics “is like death, or worse, for some of these people,” Tarin says. He is providing pro-bono advice to 10 clients in the congregation. That day, in a ward hallway teeming with children, he advises a man and his wife with four U.S. citizen children.

The couple fell victim to bad advice from a notary, Tarin says. The notary filled in, on their behalf, notoriously complex immigration forms and handed them to immigration authorities. The notary charged $750 for a case, Tarin says, that should never have been filed in the first place and, more than likely, put the family on immigration’s radar.

The mother tells Tarin she has faith immigration will not come. “Cross your fingers,” Tarin says in Spanish. “Cross my fingers, toes and everything,” the woman replies. He tells the couple, “If you follow the commandments, your liberties will not be taken away.” That’s something, he adds later, “I truly believe.”

UNEXPECTED MIRACLES
Part of the hope that Tarin offers his fellow worshippers is inevitably linked to the expectation that President Obama will introduce an amnesty for undocumented residents. Sen. Luz Robles, who, like Tarin, describes herself as Mormon Democrat, is optimistic, following a recent conference call with officials in President Barack Obama’s administration, that immigration reform is going to happen. “I’d bet my house,” lawyer Alcala says about the prospects for amnesty in 2010, acknowledging such a move would prove a “huge boon” for firms such as his.

Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, however, says amnesty doesn’t work. “It reinforces to people all you have to do is come here, lay low, and you’ll be forgiven.”

For Tarin clients like Silvia Alfaro, however, amnesty will come too late. The miracle she so longed for has not materialized.

As the months pass, her husband slips farther away from her. “It’s hard for him,” she says. “But it’s harder for me.”

Miracles, though, sometimes come from unexpected places.

On Dec. 12, five days before her 10th wedding anniversary, Alfaro was fretting over being unable to afford presents for her two boys. At 10 p.m., someone pounded on her door and left a white plastic bag with 12 presents. Instructions in Spanish said to open one present each day. Each present had a note in English. The first began, “On the first day of Christmas, Santa’s elves brought to me.”

It’s a similar generosity that Tarin yearns for from those in his church, particularly Republican legislators whose Christian charity does not extend to the undocumented immigrants who share their faith.

Tarin stands in the lobby of the ward house, an Anglo service going on yards away. “Within these walls, we’re all brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same god. Outside these walls, it becomes, ‘Are you legal or are you illegal?’” That’s a shift he struggles to understand, particularly when the Lamanite prophecy isso fundamental a concept to LDS doctrine, it’s taught as a Sunday nursery song to generations of LDS children.

Luz Robles, a self-described “Tijuana border girl,” says she believes that, in a way, “the prophecy ties it together.” Attorney General and LDS Church member Mark Shurtleff won’t comment on the Lamanite prophecy in his official capacity, except to say that, statistically, the majority of Latinos who live in Utah “are here because of the church. Clearly, there is a connection. A lot of Latino Mormons come here to Zion, and many are undocumented.”

Reps. Noel and Herrod, both LDS, don’t necessarily see that connection. Noel says while The Book of Mormon talks about the Lamanite population, “I’m not sure it’s about immigration.” The LDS Church’s position, Noel says, “is everybody is entitled to hear the word of the Lord,” but it’s also about “sustaining and obeying the rules of law.” With 6 percent unemployment in Utah, “there’s a lot of resentment out there for people who are here illegally.”

Herrod says immigration comes down to an issue of fairness. “God loves all his children equally. He wouldn’t want to discriminate against somebody waiting in lines for years,” only to be turned down for a legal visa to the United States. “Nobody stands up for them. They are the forgotten voices.”

For Tarin, however, the forgotten voices are the men, women and children in the Hispanic ward he attends who live in the perpetual twilight between being God’s chosen and man’s illegal aliens.

It’s in Utah’s ward houses, Tarin says, he hopes to “make my small contribution. If I can cause one LDS member to think twice and reflect on Mormon doctrine before they judge immigrants, then I think my efforts will have been a success.”

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Post a comment
REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // July 22,2010 at 09:19

to all the people that they dont have nothing good to say,1ST, PLEASE WAKE UP AND SAY A PRAYER, 2, THINK ABOUT THE GOODTHING THAT YOU HAVE IN LIFE AND ENJOY IT. DONT WORRY ABOUT THE MORMON CHURCH, THEY HAVE THEIR OWEN LIFE, TAKE CARE THEIR OWEN BUSINESS, WHY DONT THEY GETALONG AND STAY HAPPY, WHY DONT WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AMERICA BELONG TO AMERICAN INDEA NOT WHITE OR BROWN EVEN BLACK, LETS GROW UP, Nothing in the world cant stop to Mormon Cruch, its grow everyday, the more haters the more Babtism,

WE NEED TO FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER AND TRY TO LIVE PERFACT EACH DAY THAN WE WILL BE HAAPY, READ THE BIBLE AND PRAY EVERYDAY, GOD WILL GUID US IN EVERYTHING,

If something happen to you that make you sad , remember if u win that theirs is a good thing is readyfor you after that broplem,

LETS TRY TO LOVE AS MUCH AS WE CAN AND PRAY HARD TO BLESS ARE THOSE WHO HATE LIFE,

I KNOW THE CHURCH OF JESU CHRIST OF THE LETTER DAY SAINT IS A TRUE TESTIMONY OF GOD, I LOVE IT I DO HAVE MANY MISTAKE I CAME BACK TO CHURCH WITH REPENT AND WANT TO START A NEW LIFE NOW IM HAPPY AND LOVE EVERYTHING HAPPEN TO ME, ITS MAKE ME BETTER EACH EVERYDAY.

I LOVE YOU ALL , MAY GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // January 25,2010 at 00:36

I was born in Mexico and came to the US legally. This is my take:

1) "Illegal" in "Illegal Immigration" = breaking the law = not living by Church standards. When illegals broke the law by crossing the border they knew the repercussions and were willing to take that risk.

2) The "Promised Land" = all of "America," and does not mean just the United States of America. It is clear in the Book of Mormon I've read, and reread my entire life.

3) Utah is not "Zion" and it's a misconceived interpretation of the doctrine to think it is. Church leaders have clearly stated that Zion is where the gospel is in each country, not just in Utah.

Though Mr. Aaron Tarin misses the entire target on all of his major gospel and legal assumptions on this matter, he has peaked my interest in the realities of what must be done to protect anyone, even if illegal, from any crime committed against them while living in the US. If undocumented immigrants want rights they need to fight for them, but in order to fight for these rights all guilty parties must face the music equally, including them.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // January 7,2010 at 20:04

Thank you for writing this aritcle, I've been waiting for more people to call out the "faithful," who don't understand this very basic doctrine from the Book of Mormon. Racisim makes them blind. By the way I'm not hispanic, german and english decent.

 

Posted // January 11,2010 at 14:06 - I know Mamba, I know. I suppose it's become of little hobby of late to use knowledgeable logic against adherents of the local religion and see what comes of it. Thus far, zilcho, although none has come forward to try and prove me wrong - they pull the Mitt thing, as you said. Even I know that you cannot argue logic against faith and wouldn't bother with that, but Mormons state crazy things as fact and then disappear when their facts are proven bunk. This Lamanite crap has always bugged me and I never did think it was fair for Mormons to suddenly shun the Indians for the Mexicans. I guess that after most were wiped out, there weren't enough Indian Lamanites left to fulfill prophecy, so Mexican Lamanites are the new thing. The attorney outlined in this story feels as if he's on a God-given mission to help flood Zion with Lamanites and that's why I avoided addressing that aspect of this story - it's too laughable to take to heart. At any rate, this, uh, debating that we do here is good exercise for the mind, whether we receive a response or not. And your comments were fucking funny, as always.

 

Posted // January 11,2010 at 09:16 - C,mon, Hayduke, you're stirring the ashes of righteousness now. Don't you know that most members of organized religion only pay attention to the parts of their documents and heritage that make sense for their individual and group-think needs and leanings? Think Republicans and the Constitution. Remember, you only have to pay attention to the parts that speak to you and for you. The remaining 90% is optional, apparently, including defining what kind of person Jeeeebus Christ was. In most American churches, he's light-skinned and looks more like Steve Reeves in a gladiator movie from the 60's. He was, if he really existed, a Palestinian. See any light-skinned Palestinians around? Me neither.Fact is, he probably looked more like Osama Bin Laden than Brad Pitt on vacation. The Latter-Day deal seems to be a work in progress. Got a glaring publicity problem? Do what Mitt Romney does: Change your mind and refuse to address your previous position. I remember the 70's revelations to allow blacks (men only, of course) to hold the LDS priesthood. Blacks went from cursed to accepted in the blink of an eye...an eye that probably napped a lot every afternoon. The fact that a claim was made that divine intervention caused it made Mormons looks even goofier: They had to be instructed by a supernatural God to stop behaving like assholes. It was bad for business.

 

Posted // January 8,2010 at 08:33 - The basic Mormon Doctrine regarding so-called Lamanites IS racist. I'd be happy to dig up quotes from your favorite leaders for illustration, if you like.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // January 7,2010 at 10:03

AngelKiss is retarded.

 

Posted // January 7,2010 at 10:28 - once again i have to agree with you Geo, you must be very wise.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // January 6,2010 at 21:00

 

Book of Mormon stories that my teacher tells to me

Are about the Lamanites in ancient history.

Long ago their fathers came from far across the sea,

Giv'n the land if they lived righteously.

Lamanites met others who were seeking liberty,

And the land soon welcomed all who wanted to be free.

Book of Mormon stories say that we must brothers be,

Giv'n the land if we live righteously.

 

2 Nephi Ch. 2

2 Nephi 10:18-19

1 Nephi 13:12-25

D&C 49:24

 

Geo
Posted // January 8,2010 at 11:45 - Well, since i'm brown and a good person... does this mean i'm going to turn into a white person? That would suck... nothing against it, I just like my skin tone.

 

 
 
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