Important! Starting Monday, June 13, 2011, the Paul Drockton Radio Program will Start at 2 PM Pacific, 3 Mountain, 4 Central, 5 Eastern and run for two full hours on Renseradio.com (Click on the Windows Media Player to listen)
The LDS Church has taken a political stand against illegal immigration through publicly supporting the so called "Utah Compact" with illegal immigrants. The Compact forbids state and local law enforcement from helping the Feds identify and deport those in the State of Utah illegally. Melvin Ballard, a leading Church official and Apostle, lobbied the Utah State legislature personally, not only for the Compact, but to make sure that illegals also qualified for state welfare benefits.
Like many others, I believed that the Mormon Church was selling out to Bill Marriott, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman and other powerful donors, when it threw its support behind the Compact. Now, I am convinced that it very well could have been lobbying for its own corporate interests.
The LDS Church, through its Deseret Management, is one of the largest business owners in the United States. The Deseret News, a Church owned newspaper has been decidely pro-illegal in its editorial policy. Joe Cannon, the paper's editor, stated it was all about "Love Thy Neighbor"
"The newspaper's push for a more liberal embrace of illegal immigrants has led to a collision between its editorial mission and its conservative, mostly Mormon, readers. But if this issue seems to stray from the reliably conservative politics of The News, Utah's second-largest newspaper, that may be in part because it is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Source)
Yet, the newspaper is not the only business owned by the LDS Church.
In fact, the Church owns various farm and ranching operations throughout the United States. One example is the Deseret Ranch, which makes up about 1% of the State of Florida. The ranch has about 293,000 acres, and a current estimated market value of about 1 billion dollars. (Source)
By the numbers:Deseret Cattle & Fruit
- 500 million gallons of rain fall the ranch receives annually (1.5 times the volume of Utah Lake)
- 290-300,000 acres (450 sq. miles)
• 165,000 acres of pasture land
• 75,000 acres of wetlands
• 60,000 acres of timber
• 1,700 acres of citrus orchards (producing 50 million 8 oz glasses of orange juice annually)
• 920 acres of row crops (450 acres of potatoes for Frito Lay Chips)
- 44,000 cows
- 33,000 calves
- 1,400 bulls
- 1,400 miles of fencing
- 380+ documented species of vertebrate animals- many threatened or endangered
The Mormon Church also owns other farms and ranches:
Farm Management Corporation (commericial farms and agricultural properties)
Deseret Land and Livestock
200,000 acres of land in Rich, Morgan and Weber counties (Utah)
Sun Ranch (Martin's Cove)
Deseret Ranches of Florida (Orlando) (largest ranch in Florida)
Deseret Farms of California
Rolling Hills (Idaho)
West Hills Orchards (Elberta, Utah)
Cactus Lane Ranch (Arizona)...
There are numerous smaller operations, like the John Johnson farm in Ohio. The Church used to rely on volunteers to work these smaller farms. I was one of them, putting in numerous hours on the John Johnson farm. The farm manager told me that volunteers would be replaced by migrant farm workers. An estimated 50% of all migrant workers are working in the United States illegally. (Source)
The squalid living conditions and often abusive work environment of migrant workers is well documented.
"Farm work has, for most crops, become no easier since Steinbeck’s day. Strawberries, the crop the Vegas started out with, are nicknamed la fruta del diablo (the devil’s fruit) because pickers have to bend over all day. “Hot weather is bad,” says Felix Vega, but “cold is worse” because it makes the back pain unbearable. Even worse is sleet or rain, which turns the field into a lake of mud. The worst is picking while having the flu.
Every crop exacts its own particular discomfort, as this correspondent discovered on an August day picking grapes in the very part of the San Joaquin Valley where Steinbeck’s Joad family looked for work. Working with two Mexican brothers and a young Mexican couple, he cut the grapes, collected them in tubs and periodically dumped them into a wagon pulled by a tractor...
There are many cases of birth defects and cancer in the families of farmworkers. But as the heat climbed above 100°F (about 40°C), the vines, soaked in toxins or not, became allies.... heatstroke is common in the fields. In 2008 Maria Isavel Vasquez Jiminez, a 17-year-old Mexican girl who was pregnant, collapsed while picking grapes and died two days later." (Ibid)
The larger ranches are run as for profit corporations by the Church. Cheap, illegal migrant workers are what makes such operations profitable. If the Church owned ranches are using illegals, it won't show up in their expense report. They would contract that type of work to an outside business that did the actual hiring.
Sadly, it appears that, without illegal immigrants, the Church owned, "for profit" ranches and farms, would no longer be able to generate a profit. They would actually have to pay higher wages, social security, medicare and other employee taxes directly or indirectly.
Again, it needs to be noted that the Deseret Ranch is a "for profit" operation.
"For over half a century, Deseret has functioned primarily as a cattle operation, producing some of the best quality cattle in Florida. We specialize in producing quality calves that are sold after weaning to operations around the country to enter the nation’s food market. (Source)....
"Deseret has over 1700 acres of citrus containing approximately 237,000 trees. The mainstay of the groves is the production of juice oranges, mostly Valencias. In addition, the groves produce some fresh varieties such as Navel oranges, Sunburst tangerines and Orlando tangelos. (Source)...
The ranch boasts that it only employs 90 people. The rest would be contract migrant workers. Someone has to pick all those oranges, bail the feed for cattle etc... and we are only talking about 1 of the Church's many agri-business operations. So much for Cannon's professed love for illegal immigrants. This professed love reeks of self-interest and an eye on higher corporate profits.
It also creates a major conflict of interest that is actually detrimental to both the Church and its members. If the Church wants to improve the lives of illegal immigrants, it would have to actually pay them better wages and offer better working conditions then its competitors. Something that the Deseret News and Joe Cannon have never advocated.