SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A small group of Utah Latinos is asking the president of Mexico to suspend the visas of Mormon missionaries until the church takes a stronger stand on immigration issues. Raul Lopez-Vargas has collected about 100 signatures on a petition that he plans to deliver to the Mexican Consulate of Salt Lake City on Monday, the Deseret News reported. Lopez-Vargas called on President Felipe Calderon to meet with leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to urge them to take a position as Utah lawmakers consider Arizona-style immigration enforcement law. “They have to say something about this problem,” Lopez-Vargas said, adding he believes church leaders have the power to influence state legislators. By not speaking out, it gives the impression the church does not want immigrants in Utah, said Lopez-Vargas, a former vice president of Centro Civico. Church spokesman Scott Trotter said the church has made its position clear by supporting the Utah Compact, which takes a compassionate approach to immigration reform. Backed by a variety of community leaders, the compact calls for laws that “properly balance love for neighbors, family cohesion, and the observance of just and enforceable laws.” Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, said he understands Lopez-Vargas’ frustration, but he does not believe taking action against LDS missionaries is the right thing to do. “My personal concern, I don’t like to see missionaries be used as a means to resolve our immigration problems,” said Yapias, whose son recently returned from a church mission. “I don’t think it’s a good idea. There are other ways.” An Arizona-style immigration bill sponsored by state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, passed out of state House committee on Friday and now goes to the House floor for debate.
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