Do we enforce the letter of the law regarding people who have entered our country illegally, or do we compassionately assimilate undocumented peoples seeking a better life despite the laws they broke getting here in the first place?
Since the Gang of Eight bill was first passed in the Senate in 2013 – and later stalled in the House of Representatives – it’s safe to say that much has transpired both socially and politically.
Like any expression that is often used but seldom defined, what politicians and immigration advocates actually mean by Comprehensive Immigration Reform is up for interpretation, and is usually more rooted in political party and ideology rather than any agreed upon baseline policy measures.
Politically speaking, comprehensive immigration reform is perhaps the ultimate Catch 22. Do we enforce the letter of the law regarding people who have entered our country illegally, or do we compassionately assimilate undocumented peoples seeking a better life despite the laws they broke getting here in the first place? In America, the answer must be yes and yes.
President Trump has indicated that now is the time to once again pursue immigration reform and it’s critically important that the Hispanic Community assume a leading voice in the debate. In fact, I believe there are 5 essential policy points that must be included in any serious, comprehensive immigration reform bill that seeks to bridge the two sides’ seemingly incompatible goals.
1. Secure Border:
As a sovereign nation, the U.S. must reserve the right to determine who crosses our borders and who is allowed to stay. We must establish a clearly defined certification process that once satisfied, would enable those that are here in an undocumented capacity to have the opportunity to get permanently right with the law. In the meantime, improved border security and enforcement will help to disincentivize future migration surges as well as slow human and narcotics trafficking.
2. No Amnesty:
We should not simply allow the undocumented population to have a free pass, or amnesty, which would enable them to stay here in America ahead of people that are lawfully in line to immigrate to the United States. However, we understand that this large population will neither be deported, nor will most self-deport.
Therefore, we must legislate a process by which these people can admit to their wrongdoing, submit to and pass rigorous state and federal background checks, pay a fine to get right with the law, and prove their financial viability.
If they meet all these criteria, they would be able to stay legally as Guest Workers, but they will not be able to adjust their status to permanent resident or citizen unless and until all of the legal immigrant applications already in process have been adjudicated, (they would go to the end of the line for immigration purposes).
3. Guest Worker Visas:
Currently undocumented individuals should initially be able to adjust their status to that of a Guest Worker. They could choose to remain in the United States as Guest Workers indefinitely, so long as they passed the requirements as listed above, and remain current on their tax liabilities.
However, should they choose some day to pursue permanent residency or citizenship, they must pay additional fees, and would not be able to adjust their status unless and until all legal applications previously filed by aspiring immigrants are adjudicated.
4. Deport Serious Criminals
Any and all undocumented individuals engaged in nefarious activities such as murder, rape, assault, drug trafficking, and gang related activities should and must deported as expeditiously as possible.
However, a clear distinction must be made between these individuals and others who illegally obtained driver’s licenses, social security cards and other documents necessary for employment and basic survival.
The latter, with families raised in America and currently employed, should be protected from deportation as promised by President Trump in interviews with both 60 Minutes and TIME Magazine in addition to phone conferences we at the NHCLC have had with the transition team.
5. Integration process:
Newly legalized undocumented individuals must be encouraged to assimilate into the mainstream of American society. They must learn English, as well as American Civics.
As a nation of immigrants, we know that immigrants arrive in our country seeking opportunity and liberty. As long as these people obey the laws going forward, they must be treated fairly, and with the dignity that God has bestowed upon all people equally.
There will be some on both sides of this contentious debate that will disagree with me because I’ve either gone too far or not far enough.
As a leader in the Hispanic Community who is personally and professionally tied to this incredibly emotional issue, I have had to confront the simple truth that there are no easy answers – at least none that have a real chance of being passed into law. But if we honor the rule of law as well as the sanctity of all life, we can find a way forward together.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. He has been named by CNN and Fox News as “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement.”
Faith and Education Coalition is an initiative of the National Hispanic Christian Leaders Conference (NHCLC) and advocates for high-quality education options for all of America’s children.
Original post can be read here: http://www.univision.com/univision-news/opinion/what-does-comprehensive-immigration-reform-mean-in-trumps-america
Urges Hispanics to Not Vote for Flawed Candidates
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Aug. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Believing both the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates hold beliefs and policy positions that are at odds with Evangelical Hispanics, Florida pastor Eddie Rodriguez has begun a campaign to urge like-minded Hispanic voters to not pander to either side. Instead he is challenging fellow Latinos to stick by their core beliefs, even if it means not supporting either candidate for President in 2016, unless they demonstrate significant changes in their representations or rhetoric.
“With more Hispanics self-identifying as Evangelical, Latinos are becoming an important voting block; we need to show the candidates and the parties that our vote is not a given, but rather must be earned,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, founder of A Place Called Hope Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, is a board member of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference(NHCLC), the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization representing 40,000 churches in America and another 500,000 worldwide. He previously served as the superintendent of the Florida Multicultural District of the Assemblies of God, and also founded Love Tabernacle In West Palm Beach and a church in Asuncion, Paraguay.
In urging his fellow Latinos to abstain from supporting either 2016 presidential candidate, Rodriguez stresses the main points in which Hispanic Evangelical’s differ from them. In addition to Republican candidate Donald Trump’s lack of a social or financial plan for the country, Rodriguez noted that his rhetoric shows a lack of compassion for the disenfranchised, including immigrants, Muslims and other minority groups. Another important concern for Rodriguez is a heart issue, as he believes it is disconcerting for Trump to say that he has never nor will ever apologize to anyone, not even God.
On the other side, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s position on abortion is a hindrance Rodriguez believes keeps Hispanic Evangelicals from offering her their support. He also cautioned that conservative values would be threatened by her administration’s appointment of liberal judges that will do violence to the Constitution and a biblical worldview.
“Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have substantively articulated the road to legitimacy for millions of illegals with American-born children who live productive lives, which is a huge human issue in our reality,” Rodriguez said.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez (no relation), NHCLC president, emphasized that Pastor Eddie Rodriguez reflects the angst of the Hispanic Evangelical community, and his challenge demonstrates that many Latino voters remain undecided, reflecting an opportunity for both candidates to address matters of importance and concern to the Hispanic community.
“The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference represents people and groups with a wide variety of viewpoints,” said Samuel Rodriguez. “We are a big tent that allows for meaningful dialogue on important cultural issues. As an organization, we have never and will never endorse a candidate or a political party. Our commitment to the Lamb’s Agenda – not to the Donkey or the Elephant – remains stronger than ever. And, this election cycle demonstrates an unprecedented need for an independent Christian movement to emerge.”
NHCLC/CONEL is the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, which serves as a representative voice for the more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals assembled in over 40,000 U.S. churches and hundreds of thousands of additional congregations spread worldwide throughout the Spanish-speaking diaspora. For additional information, visit http://www.nhclc.org.
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
May, 2005 – Dr. Angel Nunez, Senior Pastor of The Bi-lingual Church of Baltimore, received appointment by the executive committee as Director of Strategic Partnerships. Dr. Nunez, author of “The Indian Speaks” and “How to Reach Your Vision” has successfully impacted the Latino Church in the USA and abroad. “We believe Dr. Nunez’s passion for Hispanic Americans and his proximity to the Capital enable us to build life long partnerships with the brokers of justice, peace and morality. “, stated Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of The NHCLC.
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
January 1, 2005 – Sacramento, CA — The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference launched a National Effort to mobilize the Hispanic/Latino Church to assist in the Aftermath of the Tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia. In a statement Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., President of The NHCLC stated: “We have never seen such devastation in our lifetime caused by a natural catastrophe. We, as the Hispanic Church are ready to assist relief organizations such as World Relief and others in assisting the millions of broken lives, homes and communities. Our prayers and our thoughts are with all the families touched by the quake and Tsunami. We are contacting the leading Hispanic churches in all 50 states and Puerto Rico and asking them to sow a generous seed via World Relief for this cause. We are also going to work withAGRelief and other similar organizations to assist in this endeavor. Our Board members represent the largest Hispanic Congregations and Denominations in America. We are asking all our constituents to send their donations to World Relief (www.wr.org) and indicate you are members of the NHCLC. This will enable us to keep track of those we need to contact for contributions. “. To join our efforts please contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hispanic NAE Expresses Optimism Concerning Immigration Reform after White House Meeting with Secretary Napolitano…
Dr. Gilberto Velez, Policy Director for the NHCLC, recognized as one of America’s Top Pastors by the Assemblies of God
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
January, 2005 – Texas — The Assemblies of God denomination recently recognized NHCLC policy director, Dr. Gilberto Velez as a leader in planting Hispanic churches. The following excerpt from the denomination’s website was provided courtesy of the Assemblies of God. Church Planting Among the Hispanics Leading the way in ethnic-church planting has been the Hispanic churches. Iglesia Cristiana Misericordia, a church that began in 1994, is an example of a self-started church-planting endeavor under the leadership of Pastor Gilberto Velez. Gilberto and Velma Velez, who were originally from Puerto Rico, were serving as associate pastors at El Sendero de la Cruz A/G in San Antonio, Texas, while practicing their medical professions. They moved to Laredo to join the staff at a hospital in that border town. The challenge of the 300-mile round-trip to San Antonio on Wednesdays and weekends to serve at El Sendero led them to begin a home Bible study in Laredo with a handful of people in March 1995. Little did Velez dream that this midweek Bible study would blossom into a Hispanic church-planting project. After several years of bivocational ministry in the church, Velez and his wife left their medical careers to become full-time pastors. God honored their step of faith and a fellow medical doctor paid their support for 3 months. At the end of the 3 months, the income of the church was sufficient to meet the needs of the pastors and the ministries of the church. In January 2000, the Iglesia Cristiana Misericordia averaged over 500 on Sunday. They purchased facilities from a private school. Their expanded sanctuary, completed in April 2000, seats 800. To read the full article, please go to: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200004/064_new_church_planting.cfm
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
February, 2005 – Orlando, Florida — Latino Christian Leaders will meet in Orlando, Florida on March 8th to discuss the President’s Social Security Reform Proposal. “The President recently discussed the effects of his proposal on minority communities. Hispanics share with the Afro-American Community a dramatic disparity as it pertains to retirement and savings accounts. This proposal will effect our communities in an unprecedented manner. We want to respond to the President and members of Congress our concerns and inclinations. “, stated Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
February, 2005 – The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is proud to have Alberto Gonzales as the Lead Law Enforcement Officer in our Nation. We believe that his proven leadership and ability to create collaborative strategies to solve very difficult issues will make him one of our nations best AG ever. Our prayers are with him and his department
MSNBC.com and The Washington Post
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
Courtesy of MSNBC.com and The Washington Post February 6, 2005 – Seattle, WA — Thanks to the Rev. Leroy Hedman, the parishioners at Georgetown Gospel Chapel take their baptismal waters cold. The preacher has unplugged the electricity-guzzling heater in the immersion baptism tank behind his pulpit. He has also installed energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs throughout the church and has placed water barrels beneath its gutter pipes — using runoff to irrigate the congregation’s all-organic gardens. Such “creation care” should be at the heart of evangelical life, Hedman says, along with condemning abortion, protecting family and loving Jesus. He uses the term “creation care” because, he says, it does not annoy conservative Christians for whom the word “environmentalism” connotes liberals, secularists and Democrats. Going for the green “It’s amazing to me that evangelicals haven’t gone quicker for the green,” Hedman said. “But as creation care spreads, evangelicals will demand different behavior from politicians. The Republicans should not take us for granted.” There is growing evidence — in polling and in public statements of church leaders — that evangelicals are beginning to go for the green. Despite wariness toward mainstream environmental groups, a growing number of evangelicals view stewardship of the environment as a responsibility mandated by God in the Bible. “The environment is a values issue,” said the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals. “There are significant and compelling theological reasons why it should be a banner issue for the Christian right.” In October, the association’s leaders adopted an “Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility” that, for the first time, emphasized every Christian’s duty to care for the planet and the role of government in safeguarding a sustainable environment. “We affirm that God-given dominion is a sacred responsibility to steward the earth and not a license to abuse the creation of which we are a part,” said the statement, which has been distributed to 50,000 member churches. “Because clean air, pure water, and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation.” Growing political issue Signatories included highly visible, opinion-swaying evangelical leaders such as Haggard, James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries. Some of the signatories are to meet in March in Washington to develop a position on global warming, which could place them at odds with the policies of the Bush administration, according to Richard Cizik, the association’s vice president for governmental affairs. Also last fall, Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, weighed in for the first time on global warming. It said that “Christians should make it clear to governments and businesses that we are willing to adapt our lifestyles and support steps towards changes that protect our environment.” The magazine came out in favor of a global warming bill — sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) — that the Bush administration opposed and the Republican-controlled Senate defeated. Polling has found a strengthening consensus among evangelicals for strict environmental rules, even if they cost jobs and higher prices, said John C. Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. In 2000, about 45 percent of evangelicals supported strict environmental regulations, according to Green’s polling. That jumped to 52 percent last year. “It has changed slowly, but it has changed,” Green said. “There is now a lot of ferment out there.” Such ferment matters because evangelicals are politically active. Nearly four out of five white evangelical Christians voted last year for President Bush, constituting more than a third of all votes cast for him, according to the Pew Research Center. The analysis found that the political clout of evangelicals has increased as their cohesiveness in backing the Republican Party has grown. Republicans outnumber Democrats within the group by more than 2 to 1. Uneasy alliance There is little to suggest in recent elections that environmental concerns influenced the evangelical vote — indeed, many members of Congress who receive 100 percent approval ratings from Christian advocacy groups get failing grades from environmental groups. But the latest statements and polls have caught the eye of established environmental organizations. Several are attempting to make alliances with the Christian right on specific issues, such as global warming and the presence of mercury and other dangerous toxins in the blood of newborn children. After the election last fall, leaders of the country’s major environmental groups spent an entire day at a meeting in Washington trying to figure out how to talk to evangelicals, according to Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. For decades, he said, environmentalists have failed to make that connection. “There is a lot of suspicion,” said Schweiger, who describes himself as a conservationist and a person of faith. “There are a lot of questions about what are our real intentions.” Green said the evangelicals’ deep suspicion about environmentalists has theological roots. “While evangelicals are open to being good stewards of God’s creation, they believe people should only worship God, not creation,” Green said. “This may sound like splitting hairs. But evangelicals don’t see it that way. Their stereotype of environmentalists would be Druids who worship trees.” Another reason that evangelicals are suspicious of environmental groups is cultural and has its origins in how conservative Christians view themselves in American society, according to the Rev. Jim Ball, executive director of the Evangelical Environmental Network. The group made its name with the “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign against gas-guzzling cars but recently shifted its focus to reducing global warming. “Evangelicals feel besieged by the culture at large,” Ball said. “They don’t know many environmentalists, but they have the idea they are pretty weird — with strange liberal, pantheist views.” Landmines abound Ball said that the way to bring large numbers of evangelicals on board as political players in environmental issues is to make persuasive arguments that, for instance, tie problems of global warming and mercury pollution to family health and the health of unborn children. He adds that evangelicals themselves — not such groups as the Sierra Club or Friends of the Earth, with their liberal Democratic baggage — are the only ones who can do the persuading. “Environmental groups are always going to be viewed in a wary fashion,” Ball said. “They just don’t have a good enough feel for the evangelical community. There are landmines from the past, and they will hit them without knowing it.” Even for green activists within the evangelical movement, there are landmines. One faction in the movement, called dispensationalism, argues that the return of Jesus and the end of the world are near, so it is pointless to fret about environmental degradation. James G. Watt, President Ronald Reagan’s first interior secretary, famously made this argument before Congress in 1981, saying: “God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.” The enduring appeal of End Time musings among evangelicals is reflected in the phenomenal success of the Left Behind series of apocalyptic potboilers, which have sold more than 60 million copies and are the best-selling novels in the country. Haggard, the leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, concedes that this thinking “is a problem that I do have to address regularly in talking to the common man on the street. I tell them to live your life as if Jesus is coming back tomorrow, but plan your life as if he is not coming back in your lifetime. I also tell them that the authors of the Left Behind books have life insurance policies.” This argument is apparently resonating. Green said the notion that an imminent Judgment Day absolves people of environmental responsibility is now a “fringe” belief. Unusual weather phenomena, such as the four hurricanes that battered Florida last year and the melting of the glaciers around the world, have captured the attention of evangelicals and made many more willing to listen to scientific warnings about the dangers of global warming, Haggard said. Pro-life, pro-earth messages mingle At the same time, activists such as Ball from the Evangelical Environmental Network are trying to show how the most important hot-button issue of the Christian right — abortion and the survival of the unborn — has a green dimension. “Stop Mercury Poisoning of the Unborn,” said a banner that Ball carried in last month’s antiabortion march in Washington. Holding up the other end of the banner was Cizik, the National Association of Evangelicals’ chief lobbyist. They handed out carefully footnoted papers that cited federal government studies showing that 1 in 6 babies is born with harmful levels of mercury. The fliers urged Christians not to support the “Clear Skies” act, a Bush administration proposal to regulate coal-burning power plants that are a primary source of mercury pollution. Although Cizik carried the banner and handed out literature that implicitly criticized Bush’s policy on regulating mercury, he conceded that many evangelicals find it difficult to criticize the president. “It is hard to oppose him when he has the moral authority of the office of the president and a record of standing with us on moral issues like abortion,” Cizik said. In Seattle, Hedman says that evangelicals should worry less about the moral authority of the president and more about their biblical obligation to care for Earth. “The Earth is God’s body,” Hedman said in a recent sermon. “God wants us to look after it.”