Thursday, December 31, 2009

On, my LDS mission, I was mistaken for INS (now ICE)

So, this story about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents allegedly posing as Mormon missionaries reminded me of when I was accused of being an INS (what ICE was back then) agent.

From January through April of 1999, I was a Mormon Missionary assigned to the town of Faribault, Minnesota. My companion was from Mexico, and were were doing most of our work with the Latino community in town. Keep in mind that I didn't speak much Spanish, so it became the "Elder Guitierrez and the big, silent American" show. However, we were the top-teaching companionship in the entire mission for several weeks.

Then, suddenly, the work dropped off. And I don't mean just a little bit. It died completely. People weren't home when we came for our appointment and people weren't answering their doors for us.

After a few days of this, I noticed that when we'd pull into the trailer parks, there would be lots of people out and about, but they'd disappear by the time we got our stuff out of the car. Nobody milling about, nobody home. Just disappeared.

We had a non-practicing member of the Church who was friendly to us that agreed to ask around and see why everyone was hiding from us. Turns out that the only other minister in town that offered services in Spanish (We translated our meetings) told his churchgoers that there was no such things as the LDS Church, that it was all a front for the government, and we were spies set on deporting them.

I'm surprised that it's taken ICE this long to figure out this tactic. However, it's a horrible practice on so many fronts.