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July 25, 2014
The Border Crisis, the Downside of Compassion, and Insights from The Book of Mormon
by Jeff Lindsay

With thousands of unaccompanied minors streaming across the increasingly porous borders of the United States, there is an obvious need for compassion for these children. But compassion comes in many forms and some of them can be destructive.

Take, for example, the compassionate U.S. law that motivates families and governments from afar to send children here without their parents and loving relatives to care for them.

As the Bush Administration came to a close, there was a compassionate bipartisan effort to sign the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which had a provision to protect children victims of sex trafficking by making it harder to send them back to their home countries if they were from somewhere besides Mexico and Canada.

Local parents and governments in Central American nations seemed to understand this law better than our lawmakers did and have exploited it mightily, sending thousands here knowing that they would be granted asylum and receive the many benefits of being a U.S. resident.

Our compassion, unfortunately, is motivating parents to abandon their children. Perhaps it's time for the tougher compassionate that stops the incentives to abandon kids?

Obviously, we must be compassionate when we encounter a child in need. But what happens when that one child at your door becomes 10 children, then 100, then 100,000? The standard compassionate approach in this country is to say that all should be taken in and welcomed — by someone else, with someone else's money.

I don't have an easy answer for how to deal with the immediate crisis, except to say that we must also address and repair some of the root issues behind the problem.

There are other downsides to our unbounded border compassion to worry about. Although parents abandoning children is deplorable, I can sympathize with local governments that may wish to abandon gang members. Sadly, young gang members are among those who are being welcomed to the U.S., allegedly with no obvious effort to separate out the gangsters.

Meanwhile, I worry that the non-gangsters coming here without roots and without parents will be more vulnerable to the lure of violent gangs.

There are still other issues. You might not have noticed, but there are a lot of people in this world that hate America. And not all of them are in Hollywood. Some are in foreign countries that would love to have a chance to come here and create a little havoc.

In a world of violence and terrorism, there are good reasons to have tightly controlled borders. An open border where anyone can get in by just walking across the border, or even coming in a scheduled bus, is a security risk with severe potential consequences.

Regardless of which party the new immigrants are going to support in future elections, our elected officials need to put our local security as a top priority. Instead of spending billions or trillions to police the world and invade other nations, how about if we get back to protecting our own?

It can be done. Bring our troops home. Put some of them on the border. Border security is possible.

The vast majority of the unaccompanied minors coming here are being granted asylum with no serious effort to get them back to their families and communities. They will probably spend their lives here. May they be productive, peaceful lives.

Some, we are told, may become the next Steve Jobs and spend their time making and marketing overpriced products that will strengthen the economy and make the world better.

Great — but out of fairness to the many other potential Steve Jobs from places like Norway, China, and India who have been waiting for years to get through our ridiculously difficult legal immigration process, perhaps we need to expand our compassion enough to treat everyone a little more equally and ask folks to get in line (while speeding up the legal line).

Meanwhile, casually allowing entry to those who wish to bring violence to our streets will make life a lot more difficult for everyone seeking to build, to create, or to just raise families in peace. Let's bless the world with generous legal immigration opportunities for those who wish to love and build up our nation, and protect our borders for the security of all of us.

Yes, show compassion to the children who come here, but make reuniting them with their parents and communities a top priority. There should be no incentives for child abandonment. The law that does that should be swiftly fixed.

At the risk of questionable speculation, I think that the growing threat of gang violence in our cities, amplified by a surge in illegal immigration and loopholes of American compassion, might add plausibility to a puzzling prophecy in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 20:

[15] And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people —

[16] Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

Also see 3 Nephi 21:

[12] And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

[13] Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off.

[14] Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;

[15] And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds....

My reading of the statements of Christ in 3 Nephi 20 and 21 is that the descendants of some of the original peoples in the Americas (who, yes, are descended from Jacob, even if the percentage of Hebraic ancestry is very small due to an abundance of Asiatic DNA also present) will be a source of great trouble for some American cities, though many of them will also be converted and help build up the kingdom of God and be part of the New Jerusalem to come.

I'm really not sure what to make of the prophecies and there are many ways they could be fulfilled, but it's interesting to see that what once sounded like a remote and improbable event could be realistically fulfilled in light of ongoing events.

There is a genuine threat looming from the weapons being accumulated by gangs and from their swelling ranks. Drug-related violence from gangs is destroying too many communities south of the border (or rather, south of the line formerly known as "the border"), and I don't think U.S. cities have even begun to see how devastating that can become.

Of course, the ultimate answer to most problems is not in law and armies, but in the gospel. Whatever policies our nation adopts, let us love those who are in our midst, documented or not, and give those who wish the opportunity to receive the blessings of the gospel.

In so doing, may families be strengthened and may children be kept with their parents wherever possible. Meanwhile, may our Gentile cities take a cue from 3 Nephi 20 and 21 and recognize the real lesson there: repent and follow Jesus Christ.

When it comes to real compassion and immigration, the Book of Mormon may also be relevant in another way. The story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehites, the Lamanites who were persecuted with genocidal zeal by their brethren after their conversion to the gospel, provides a meaningful example of compassionate treatment of genuine refugees.

They were given a land of their own in Nephite territory, the land of Jershon, as a place of inheritance (interestingly, Jershon is an example of yet another Hebrew word play in the Book of Mormon, since it is closely related to the Hebrew word for inheritance).

They weren't made wards of the State, but were given rich opportunity to provide for themselves and were given the protection of Nephite armies. It was a genuine sacrifice for the Nephites, but also a remarkably wise investment in a people that would bless the Nephites richly in years to come.

There may many other lessons in the Book of Mormon worth considering as we deal with the difficult social and political issues of our day. May we increasingly rely on its divine and increasingly relevant messages for us.

For more from Jeff Lindsay, see Mormanity at http://mormanity.blogspot.com and his Mormon Answers section at http://jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/.


About Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton, Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra. He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.

He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.

Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications. Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.

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