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Amicus Brief Opposing Immigration Ban

Aug. 17, 2017 | U.S. Supreme Court

Professor Kathleen Flake joined 20 other scholars in filing a brief in the United States Supreme Court, attacking President Trump’s ban on refugees and immigrants from six Muslim countries. The brief tells the story of government attacks on Mormon immigration in the 19th century. This history, it urges, shows the need for exacting scrutiny of the order.

During the 19th century government officials repeatedly attacked the Mormons because of their religion. During the 1880s, federal officials explicitly targeted Mormon immigrants. In some cases, Latter-day Saints were refused entry to the country, in others they were jailed by government officials at the border, and at times federal officials pressured Mormon immigrants to abandon their religion and convert to Protestantism.

Professor Flake stated,

“While some know that American Mormons were persecuted, few know that Mormon immigrants were refused entry into the U.S. Remembering this, we have particular reason to challenge the renewal of religious discrimination in our nation’s laws.”

The brief recounts federal attempts to limit Mormon immigration in response to public outrage over rumors, “Yet contrary to the claims made by government officials, American Mormon missionary efforts abroad were not aimed at beguiling young women to immigrate to Mormon harems in Utah. These fantasies bore little if any relationship to the realities of the overwhelming majority of Mormon families who wished to enter the United States to escape persecution in their home countries and to unite with their co-religionists in the Utah territory. Excluding members of a religious group on the basis of stereotypes was (and is) a poor method of identifying those planning to break the law.” Read more here.