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Op Ed

Opinion: Deal faithfully, not fearfully, with immigrants

Words matter.

That is as clear in our daily discourse as it is in the Bible. To paraphrase Proverbs, with our words we can speak life or death.

Today, some of our would-be political leaders are not speaking words of life when it comes to immigrants and immigration. Their rhetoric fits the description of anti-Christian and anti-conservative, even anti-American, in that it runs counter to the values that form the bedrock of our nation.

We must recognize the humanity of our immigrant brothers and sisters and welcome them to an America rooted in faith, not fear.

– Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

Presidential candidates who use inflammatory rhetoric are trying to divide us, not inspire us. Their words steer us toward nativism and xenophobia — in short, to our baser selves. That is not who Christians are, and it is not who we are as Americans.

There is a better way.

Abraham Lincoln captured it when he wrote, “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.”

Martin Luther King Jr. pointed toward faith and freedom in his “I Have a Dream” speech that inspired a nation: “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children … With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

More recently, President Ronald Reagan inspired us once again with a vision of an America that shines like a “city upon a hill.”

“If there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here,”Reagan said. 
“That’s how I saw it, and see it still. And how stands the city on this winter night? … She’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”

A great many Americans, a great many conservatives, a great many evangelical Christians count ourselves among the multitudes who still believe this vision makes America better.

It is time to raise our voices and issue a clarion call. Our nation leads precisely because we are a beacon of freedom for so many around the world and so many already on our shores.

We must seize the mantle of Lincoln, King and Reagan. We must dispense with hate and dread and anxiety. Instead we must turn inward and look upward, that our words might shine the light of hope and peace, of respect and dignity.

“With [our tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:9). Our tongues must speak words of blessing. No longer shall we curse those made in God’s image, lest we ourselves be cursed.

We must recognize the humanity of our immigrant brothers and sisters and welcome them to an America rooted in faith, not fear.


Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

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An opportunity for courage on immigration

On Thursday, Pope Francis humbly exhorted a Joint Session of the U.S. Congress to view immigrants “as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond … in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.” He challenged the Congress to apply Christ’s Golden Rule, to address the situation of refugees and other immigrants “with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.”

Sitting behind him, visibly moved at various points, was Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), a man shaped by his own Catholic faith, who has spoken repeatedly of his own convictions that a dysfunctional immigration system needed to be reformed, but who has not been able to achieve significant changes. As Boehner met with the pontiff just before his address, I wonder if Pope Francis pastorally but specifically challenged the Speaker to demonstrate courageous leadership in addressing immigration policy. I wonder if the Speaker confessed to the global leader of his Church what the rest of the nation learned this morning: that he will resign as Speaker of the House in just over a month.

As an evangelical Christian, I both share many essential biblical beliefs with Pope Francis and have some important theological differences. As a conservative, my views often align with those of Speaker Boehner, but I’ve also occasionally been frustrated by his leadership.
One significant frustration with Boehner’s tenure has been the failure to move forward on immigration reform. In 2013, the Senate came together on a bipartisan basis to pass a broad immigration reform. The bill combined dramatic improvements to border security and interior enforcement with adjustments to a business-stifling visa system and an earned legalization process for those undocumented immigrants willing to come forward, pay a fine, and fully comply with a stringent set of requirements over a decade-long probationary period. Both sides made compromises, and no one was completely happy with the legislation, but it would have been an enormous improvement to the status quo.

Both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a politically diverse coalition of evangelical leaders praised the effort, which we affirmed aligned with biblical values of respect for the rule of law, family unity, and compassion. Leaders from various other faith traditions voiced support as well, as did both the largest labor unions in the country and the business interests represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A Quinnipiac University poll at the time showed that, by a two-to-one margin, Americans supported the bipartisan Senate bill, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats, Catholics and evangelicals, and all ethnic groups surveyed.

After the Senate bill passed, the nation waited. At various points over the next year, we heard that the House would act—maybe on the Senate bill, maybe on their own version of reform, with the various elements broken into separate bills. We prayed and pleaded for something, especially those of us who know personally the harm done by a long-neglected immigration system that is dividing families, stifling our economy, and eroding the rule of law.

Behind the scenes, I and others who met with legislators found that a bill or bills similar to the Senate’s proposal had the support of almost all Democrats and of a larger than publicly reported minority of Republicans in the House. If legislators were telling us the truth behind the scenes—not necessarily a great presumption from politicians—there were almost certainly enough votes to pass legislation along the lines of the bipartisan Senate proposal in the House, had Boehner called a vote. He did not—likely, I presume, because he lacked the support of a majority of House Republicans, and if they were sufficiently upset by such a move, they could have threatened his speakership.

Having announced his resignation, I now wonder: what does the Speaker have to lose? Before you resign, Mr. Speaker, I hope and pray that you’ll call a vote on a bill (or, if you prefer, bills) that would address each of the major elements needed to reform our immigration system, consistent with the Senate’s approach. In a nod to Pope Francis and in light of the greatest refugee crisis our world has witnessed since World War II, I might add in some additional support to increase resettlement of refugees to our great nation, which still represents a beacon of hope for these divine-image-bearers yearning for freedom and safety.

Even if broad immigration reform is, at this moment, a bridge too far, Republicans have an incredible opportunity to choose a conservative leader who understands that a better immigration process carries great potential for our nation and leads on immigration reform.

In a time when the rhetoric around immigration has become mean-spirited and vitriolic under the influence of the GOP’s current presidential frontrunner, we need a new conversation on immigrants and immigration in Washington: one that changes the tone and unites us, no matter where you were born.

Pope Francis’ visit has startled the status quo in Washington. Speaker Boehner’s announced resignation has upset the normal political currents. Now is a time for political courage for just and moral ends. May it be so.

Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)/CONEL.

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Marco Rubio Is the Leader Our Country Needs

Washington has reached an impasse. Partisan politics and division has left our country without a way to move forward on real solutions to the problems we are facing.

Our next president needs to possess ‘Reaganesque’ abilities to reach across the aisle, working with both the House and Senate and modeling true leadership for this great nation. As my boss puts it, we need the candidate that is the convergence of Reagan and Jack Kemp. We need a unifier who will stand for Christian values, strengthen our stance on the world stage, show compassion to those desiring to become a part of the fabric of American society, be a champion for life, and bless Israel.
It is my personal belief that Senator Marco Rubio can be that type of leader, and I am proud to endorse Senator Marco Rubio to become the next President of the United States.

As the Republican nominee, Senator Rubio is a man who can win the general election. Polls show that if pitted against presumed democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Senator Rubio presents the best option for the GOP. He is a true conservative, yet is also compassionate. Senator Rubio has a broad appeal across race, age and gender — a clear distinction to Donald Trump, who brings the same divisiveness that we already see in Washington.

There are many points on which I agree with Senator Rubio. The first is on immigration. True, comprehensive immigration reform is 30 years overdue. I agree with Senator Rubio’s approach, which is balanced between national security and compassion for those who are already part of our society and living the proverbial American dream.

Senator Rubio has also been a champion for life and understands that to be truly pro-life is to value life from the womb to the tomb. He understands the need to protect the sanctity of life because all individuals, born and unborn, are created in the image of God, by God.

Another point of agreement is on religious freedom. Freedom of worship is a foundational pillar of our nation as well as the freedom to live according to one’s conviction without persecution for doing so. While our Founding Fathers adhered to Judeo Christian values, there was freedom for others to worship according to their faith narrative. The United States is a Christian nation who welcomes those of other faiths. On this fundamental truth, Rubio and I also agree.

Lastly, I believe Senator Rubio will continue our legacy of being a blessed nation by reaffirming and demonstrating our nation’s unbending support for Israel. I am a literalist when it comes to the Word of God. The Bible clearly states that God will bless those that bless Israel and curse those that curse Israel.
As Americans head to the polls to choose their candidates to move forward to the general election, I want to share my beliefs and convictions with those who might still be deciding which candidate to support. I believe Senator Marco Rubio is the leader our country needs.


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The anti-terror tool you never hear about

Nearly a third of the questions asked during the 22 presidential primary debates so far have been about foreign policy or national security, but moderators have not raised a single question about international development. Will debate no. 23 on Thursday night be the first to draw out candidates on this crucial element of U.S. influence abroad?

Our organization, ONE, reviewed the transcripts from all the debates to date and found a narrow foreign policy narrative and an incomplete snapshot of the candidates’ foreign policy plans.

In all, moderators have posed 1,087 questions of the candidates during this cycle’s main and undercard debates. Of those questions, 315 were on foreign policy or national security. But not one question addressed America’s global development strategy. Not one moderator asked about foreign aid or ending extreme poverty. Not one question explored the limited access to education of girls in the developing world. Not one question focused on the global fights against HIV/AIDS or malaria.

Instead, candidates have been asked what they would do about the Islamic State, or ISIL, well over 50 times. Spoiler alert: they all believe ISIL is bad and needs to be destroyed.

The burden here is not solely on debate moderators, though. Combined, the candidates have used just shy of 88,000 words to answer those 315 foreign policy questions in the debates so far. Only 232 of those words — a meager .26 percent — addressed global development. They came during a Democratic debate last November, when Martin O’Malley and Hillary Clinton briefly discussed investments in sustainable development to attack the root causes of dangerous instability and Clinton praised the efforts of aid workers overseas.
What military leaders know, but what candidates tend to forget, is that global development is an important part of America’s national security strategy.

“Development contributes to stability. It contributes to better governance,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates once said. “And if you are able to do those things and you’re able to do them in a focused and sustainable way, then it may be unnecessary for us to send soldiers.”

You don’t want a viral epidemic like Ebola to reach American shores again? Help poor countries build better local health systems.

You don’t want terrorists groups to grow and fester in power vacuums? Help developing countries build stronger economies and democratic institutions.

Fighting poverty and helping people in the world’s most vulnerable places makes our country more secure and is a key part of America’s national identity, here and overseas. That it has played such an insignificant part of this campaign is vexing.

Americans’ generosity saves lives each and every day, and it makes our country safer. As the primary campaign moves into this new stage, candidates for president should talk about that truth, and they should explain how they would work to end extreme poverty and stop the spread of preventable diseases like HIV/AIDS. They should talk about the incredible return on investment America gets for the less than 1% of the federal budget we spend on poverty-fighting foreign assistance.

Americans care about these issues. ONE members in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have been showing up on rope lines and in town hall meetings for months encouraging the candidates to speak up. Some have, but most have yet to publicly discuss their plans for ending extreme poverty.
That should change. Just as Americans want a commander in chief knowledgeable about the deployment of our military strength, they deserve one fluent in the deployment of non-military influence.

Last fall, retired Marine Corps general and former National Security Adviser Jim Jones said, “support for development is a vital component of America’s national security strategy, and has been since the end of World War II. In today’s complex environment, development plus security and good governance equals stability.”

Why is it so difficult for those hoping to be our next commander in chief to say the same? Ending extreme poverty is directly relevant to the current threats to our country. Candidates’ foreign policy proposals should not be as one-dimensional as the primary debates have suggested.

No one should get to be president of the United States without publicly demonstrating an understanding and appreciation for the essential role that fighting poverty and stopping disease plays in securing America.

Tom Hart is the North American Executive Director for ONE, the global policy and advocacy organization cofounded by Bono to end extreme poverty and stop the spread of preventable diseases.

Original post can be read here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/02/24/foreign-aid-terror-fighting-tool-debates-no-questions-column/80822898/​

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Education Sunday: Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

Is there anything better than watching a child’s face light up when she suddenly understands a new concept?

My daughter Eden recently learned to snap, and her excitement over this new found ability causes her to share with every person we meet! Even as an adult, it feels great to master something new. My mom, Eden’s grandmother, will complete her EdD soon, and the process of research and study has brought her deep joy. We never outgrow our God-given design, which includes the joy of learning.

I spend my days at the corner of faith and education, both as the leader of education initiatives for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and as mom to two little ones (a kindergartener and a toddler). In both environments, words can be leveraged to allow children to thrive.

As God created the world with words, we being in His image also can create thoughts, feelings, and emotional environments with words. For church leaders and educators, we can employ words to create an environment conducive to learning and thriving and growing spiritually. As parents we can speak words over our children which help them discover God’s love and gifts throughout every day.

In Second Timothy, Paul encouraged the younger man to “study to thyself approved unto God . . . rightly dividing the word of truth.”

We can follow this admonition today by applying our minds to whatever field of study we find ourselves called to and thus in pursuit. Our earthly assignments are connected to an eternal purpose, which gives education even greater value. As we develop our minds and hearts, we are not only empowered to succeed at a career but we are equipped to do so with wisdom to rightly divide the word of truth.

Churches across our country are preaching the Word on a daily basis and urging church members to read and apply God’s Word to life. When God’s word is applied to our view of education and educational issues, we often come to a realization that education equality, for example access to quality education, is an issue that needs the Body of Christ’s attention.

In Luke 10:27, Jesus calls his disciples to “love the Lord with all your … minds,” and He has given us curious, creative minds for His own glory.

I encourage pastors and parents to ensure their students are held to high standards and have access to quality education. It is essential that we can support the educational and spiritual development of the next generation.

The second part of Luke 10:27 states to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” Ensuring all the children in our communities have access to quality education is a practical way to demonstrate this love

Thousands of churches will unite this September, as we do every autumn, to highlight the link between faith and education. Education Sunday (September 4, 2016) provides pastors the opportunity to encourage students to love the Lord with their heart, soul, strength and mind. Congregations will seek the Father for wisdom on ways to support all the children in our communities with quality education. I trust He will awaken us to new opportunities for encouraging students, improving education equality and equipping parents to guide their children into academic understanding as well as spiritual wisdom.

Our prayer is that the children within our congregations and communities are encouraged through the words spoken over them during Education Sunday and that they recognize their God-given calling to love the Lord with the totality of their minds. May He raise the standards in each of our lives as we continue to apply our faith in Christ to our view of education and educational issues.

Dr. Andrea Ramirez is Executive Director of the Faith and Education Coalition – NHCLC.

Original post can be read here: http://www.christianpost.com/news/education-sunday-rightly-dividing-the-word-of-truth-168875/

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It’s going to take more than protesting, get a suit and tie

Protesting over the Trump administration’s immigration policies without concrete action only causes more noise, and more controversy. We must meet our protesting with equal political action. One – without the other – is insufficient.

This has been a disorienting week for immigrants around the country, and justifiably so.

Immigrant communities are scrambling for answers after reports have surfaced of ICE raids in various U.S. cities, the detention of Dreamers like Daniel Ramirez Medina in Seattle and the deportation of parents of U.S. citizens like Guadalupe Garcia De Rayos of Arizona. While recent DHS guidelines indicate that DREAMers will be protected – which I applaud – these guidelines also give alarming mixed-signals and expanded discretion to a growing number of immigration enforcement officers.

Let me be clear, I have publicly commended the President after his decision to reinstate the Mexico City Rule and I applauded President Trump’s intention to dismantle the Johnson Amendment. I celebrated when just two hours after a meeting we had with the administration in December, the President issued a statement promising to “work something out” with respect to Dreamers. I have been honored to work with this administration when called upon and I will continue do so as asked.

But, I have also been expressly clear, both privately with the administration as well publicly in recent interviews, that I cannot and will not condone or defend any immigration policy that tears families apart.

In keeping with that pledge, last week I issued a statement urging President Trump to more clearly define and confine his immigration enforcement policies to only target violent criminals—such as drug dealers, murderers and gang members—who pose a clear and immediate threat to public safety. To deport the undocumented parents of U.S. children represents an affront to the sanctity of life and our shared American values.

The case of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos is certainly complicated, and to claim otherwise is contrary to the facts. Nearly a decade ago, during a workplace raid, Garcia de Rayos was convicted of criminal impersonation, a class 6 felony. In other words, she used a stolen Social Security number to gain employment. She had also been using a stolen Resident Alien Card number. Garcia de Rayos pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years probation and community service.

While common among undocumented immigrants, it’s important for the Hispanic community to acknowledge that these are not victimless crimes. Identity theft can impact the victim’s tax history and credit scores for years. It also has an aggregate effect on all of us in the form of higher credit card fees, interest rates and even the distribution of tax dollars. We are a country of laws and when immigrants break laws it put the immigrant and our broader community at risk.

But hers was not a repeat violation and demonstrated no malicious intent whatsoever. While there should be consequences for her crime—for which she did receive two years probation and community service—she was simply working to provide for her family.

Furthermore, the family she was providing for includes two children, both of which are U.S. citizens. This is the crux of the issue! You can argue, as some have, that children of undocumented immigrants should not be given birthright citizenship, but that is not the way the Fourteenth Amendment, nor the prevailing laws of the land are interpreted or applied. This interpretation of the law has been supported by countless court decisions.

So where then, does this leave us?

A strict interpretation of the administration’s executive order would absolutely tear apart loving families, throwing the futures of thousands of American children into dangerous uncertainty. Not only would this be among the most destructive policies ever enacted by the U.S. government, it would also result in an incredible burden for the state. Countless American children would be rendered parentless, leaving local officials and taxpayers responsible for their care and wellbeing. This is a lose-lose scenario with potentially horrific consequences.

But, here’s the problem: our elected officials, unless they are latinos, largely do not understand the experiences of our community.

Our community is very good at protesting injustice. We have been doing it all week, but we are not so good at real, political action. We have to educate our congressmen on the actual implications of this order, and we have to help them find better solutions. We have to call their offices and show up in Washington DC. We have to walk through the halls of the U.S. Capitol. We cannot expect them to ignore the law, but we can help them improve it.

Protesting without concrete action only causes more noise, and more controversy. Each side will dig in their heels, and – in the end – it can hurt us more than help us. We must meet our protesting with equal political action. One – without the other – is insufficient.

As America’s fastest growing minority community we need to learn to work the system in our favor, and to persuade legislators one-by-one to be on our side. For every 10 of us raising a sign on a street corner there ought to be 100 of us walking up and down the corridors of power meeting with those who might actually take action in our favor if they understood the issues and knew we cared enough to show up in their offices to explain them to them.

We need to keep our children in their high schools, universities and law schools getting trained to fight for another generation (and off the streets), and we need to lead by example … dusting off our suits and ties and showing up. The fight of black civil rights in this country involved sit-ins, protests and symbolic actions, for sure. But, it was more than that. It involved hard, smart political and legislative, action.

This week, we’ve been very loud, but I’m not sure we’ve been very effective. It’s not for a lack of power. We’re too big to be ignored.

It will be for a lack of strategy if we are left behind. Join me in calling upon our elected officials to quickly correct course before more families are hurt.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Faith and Education Coalition is an initiative of the National Hispanic Christian Leaders Conference (NHCLC). With 2,568 members representing almost 3,000 local churches in 44 states, the Faith and Education Coalition advocates for high-quality education options for all of America’s children.


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Las medidas migratorias: van a tomar más que una protesta, hay que ponerse un traje y una corbata

Las medidas migratorias: van a tomar más que una protesta, hay que ponerse un traje y una corbata
“Los latinos somos buenos para oponernos a la injusticia y protestar. Lo hemos estado haciendo toda la semana. Pero no somos muy buenos en la acción política”.

Esta ha sido una semana desalentadora para los inmigrantes en toda la nación, y no sin motivos.

Las comunidades de inmigrantes están buscando respuestas después de la publicación de reportes de redadas migratorias por ICE en varias ciudades dentro de Estados Unidos; de la detención de soñadores como Daniel Ramírez Medina de Seattle, y la deportación de
padres de ciudadanos estadounidenses como Guadalupe García de Rayos de Arizona. Aunque las recientes directrices del DHS indican que los dreamers serán protegidos –lo cual aplaudo–, las nuevas directrices mandan señales mixtas y aumentan la discreción
para deportar que tienen los oficiales de migración.

Permítame ser muy claro. Elogié al Presidente públicamente después de su decisión de reinstalar la “Política de la Ciudad de México” (que prohíbe usar fondos federales estadounidenses para apoyar a organizaciones civiles que promueven el aborto) y aplaudí la intención del Presidente Trump de desmantelar la Enmienda Johnson (una cláusula que estipula que entidades libres de pagar impuestos, como iglesias u organizaciones caritativas, no pueden participar, directa o indirectamente, en ninguna campaña política a favor o en contra de un candidato). Celebré cuando solo dos horas después de una reunión que tuvimos con la administración en diciembre el Presidente emitió una declaración prometiendo “hacer algo” con respecto a los dreamers (o soñadores). Me siento honrado de trabajar con esta administración cuando me lo han pedido y continuaré haciéndolo si me lo piden.

Pero he sido muy claro también, en privado con la administración y en publicó en entrevistas recientes, en que no puedo condonar o defender una política migratoria que separa familias.

Manteniendo esa promesa, la semana pasada emití una declaración urgiendo al presidente Trump que defina y limite sus políticas migratorias a criminales violentos –narcotraficantes, asesinos, y miembros de pandillas– que son una amenaza clara e inmediata para la seguridad pública. Deportar a los padres indocumentados de hijos ciudadanos representa una afrenta a la santidad de la vida y a nuestros valores compartidos como estadounidenses.

El caso de Guadalupe García de Rayos es complicado, y decir otra cosa es contrario a la realidad. Casi una década atrás, en una redada migratoria en su lugar de trabajo, García de Rayos fue declarada culpable de suplantación de identidad, un delito grave de clase 6 criminal. En otras palabras, ella usó un número de seguro social robado para poder emplearse. También estaba usando un número de residencia robado. García de Rayos se declaró culpable y fue condenada a dos años de libertad condicional y servicio comunitario.

Aunque comunes entre inmigrantes indocumentados, es importante que la comunidad hispana reconozca que estos no son crimines sin víctimas. El robo de identidad impacta el historial de impuestos de la víctima y afecta su crédito por años. También tiene un efecto agregado en todos nosotros, en la forma de tasas más altas de tarjetas de crédito e incluso en la distribución de los dólares de los impuestos. Estados Unidos es un país de leyes, y cuando los inmigrantes violan las leyes se ponen en riesgo a sí mismos y a la comunidad en general.

Pero lo de Guadalupe no se trató de violaciones repetidas de la ley y ella no demostró ninguna intención maligna. Debía de haber consecuencias para su crimen –por el cual recibió dos años de libertad condicional y servicio comunitario– pero García de Rayos simplemente estaba trabajando para proveer a su familia.

Además, la familia que estaba sosteniendo incluye dos hijos que son ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos. ¡Y este es el centro de esta situación! Puedes argumentar, como algunos lo han hecho, que los hijos de inmigrantes indocumentados no deberían de recibir ciudadanía al nacer en este país, pero esta no es la manera en que la Enmienda 14 ni las leyes del país son interpretadas ni aplicadas. La actual interpretación de la ley ha sido apoyada por una innumerable cantidad de decisiones judiciales.

Entonces, ¿dónde quedamos?

Una interpretación estricta de la orden ejecutiva de la administración separaría familias amorosas, llevando el futuro de miles de niños estadounidenses a una incertidumbre peligrosa. No solo sería una de las políticas más dañinas jamás promulgadas por el gobierno de Estados Unidos, también resultaría en una carga increíble para el estado. Un sinnúmero de niños quedarían sin padres, dejando a los funcionarios locales y a los ciudadanos que pagamos impuestos responsables por su cuidado. Este es un escenario en donde todos pierden y que tiene consecuencias potenciales horribles.

Y aquí está el problema: nuestros funcionarios, a menos de que sean latinos, no entienden las experiencias de nuestra comunidad.

Los latinos somos buenos para oponernos a la injusticia y protestar. Lo hemos estado haciendo toda la semana. Pero no somos muy buenos en la acción política. Tenemos que educar a nuestros congresistas sobre las implicaciones de esta orden, y tenemos que ayudarles a encontrar mejores soluciones. Tenemos que llamar a sus oficinas e ir a Washington D.C. Tenemos que caminar por los pasillos del Capitolio. No podemos esperar que ignoren la ley, pero podemos ayudarles a que la mejoren.

Protestar sin acción concreta solo causa más ruido y controversia. Cada lado se indigna, y al final nos puede lastimar más que ayudar. Tenemos que acompañar nuestras protestas con una medida igual de acción política. Lo uno –sin lo otro– es insuficiente.

Como la comunidad con el crecimiento demográfico más rápido de Estados Unidos, los hispanos necesitamos aprender cómo usar el sistema a nuestro favor y como persuadir a los legisladores, uno por uno, a que se pongan de nuestro lado. Por cada diez de nosotros que levanta pancartas en la esquina, debería de haber cien de nosotros caminando por los corredores de poder, reuniéndose con quienes podrían tomar medidas a nuestro favor si tan solo entendieran nuestros asuntos, y si supieran que nos preocupan tanto que nos tomamos el tiempo para ir a sus oficinas a explicarles lo que es importante para nosotros.

Necesitamos mantener a nuestros hijos en escuelas secundarias, universidades y escuelas de leyes (y sacarlos de las calles), para que sean entrenados para pelear por la siguiente generación. Y necesitamos liderar con el ejemplo… quitémosle el polvo a nuestros trajes y corbatas y digamos presentes. La pelea por los derechos civiles de los negros involucró huelgas, protestas y acciones simbólicas. Pero fue más que eso. También involucro acción audaz, política y legislativa.

Esta semana, hemos sido muy ruidosos, pero no estoy seguro de que hayamos sido muy efectivos. No es por falta de poder. Somos demasiado grandes para ser ignorados.

Será por falta de estrategia si nos quedamos atrás.

Únete a mi para pedir que nuestros funcionarios públicos actúen rápidamente y corrijan el curso antes de que más familias sean lastimadas.

Rev. Samuel Rodríguez es Presidente de la Conferencia Nacional de Liderazgo Cristiano Hispano. Ha sido nombrado por CNN y FOX News como “el líder del movimiento Hispano Evangélico,” y la revista TIME lo nominó entre los 100 líderes más influyentes en Estados Unidos.

Nota: La presente pieza fue seleccionada para publicación en nuestra sección de opinión como una contribución al debate público. La(s) visión(es) expresadas allí pertenecen exclusivamente a su(s) autor(es) y/o a la(s) organización(es) que representan. Este contenido no representa la visión de Univision Noticias o la de su línea editorial.


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Why religious freedom is the number one human rights issue of our time

The sad reality is, people of all faiths including Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and other religious minorities, are experiencing increased persecution.

Fr. Thomas Loya (R) speaks at a rally in support of religious freedom after the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby, contraception coverage requirement case on June 30, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Getty Images

It’s startling but true: religious persecution is on the rise around the world, and it constitutes the number one human rights issue of our time.

In case you think I’m overstating the issue, consider the facts.

According to the most recent Pew report on religious persecution and restrictions, roughly three-quarters of the world’s population lives in a country with high or very high restrictions or hostilities on religion.
Just as disturbing, the report concludes that Christians were harassed in 108 countries in 2014, up from 102 in 2013, and Muslims in 100, compared to 99 in 2013. And although they make up just 0.2% of the world’s population, Jews were harassed in 81 countries, up from 71 in 2012.

And if you think this phenomenon is limited to the developing world, you’d be wrong. Forty percent of Jewish leaders in Western Europe cite anti-Semitism as the most dangerous threat facing their community – up from only 10% in 2008.

As a pastor, I am especially troubled by the rising tide of hate against Christians. As reported by the World Watch Monitor, Christians are being killed for their faith in more countries than ever before. And while genocide against Christians in Syria and Iraq made headlines last year, the fastest growing region for Christian intolerance and persecution is not the Middle East. Instead, the rise of religious nationalism in Asia and Islamic radicalization in Sub-Saharan Africa account for the two fastest year-over-year increases in Christian persecutions.

The sad reality is, people of all faiths including Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and other religious minorities, are experiencing increased persecution. Regardless of whether you are a person of faith, an agnostic or an atheist, these facts should cause us all to shudder. It pains me just writing this.

But I am also reminded of how fortunate I am to be protected by the religious freedoms we enjoy in America, and how critically important it is that we continue to defend this most sacred human right. After all, the very ideas of freedom of speech and religious expression—two rights forever linked together—are revolutionary concepts that debuted on the world stage with the U.S. Constitution.

When it comes to religious freedom, how America goes, so too goes the world. We have, for centuries now, successfully assimilated diverse people groups with wide-ranging belief systems, all while respecting each person’s freedom to believe as he or she chooses.

Does America have a perfect record? Of course not, but by contrast, it is clearly a legacy we should be proud of. In fact, it was largely a result of America’s leadership in the post WWII era that led the UN to ultimately enshrine the freedom of religion and belief in Article 18 of the United Nations (UN) Declaration of Human Rights.

Unfortunately, mirroring worldwide trends, America too has experienced a rise in religious intolerance. A report from the Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings indicates that nearly half of Americans feel discrimination against Christians is as big of a problem as discrimination against other groups, including Hispanics, Blacks and other minorities. And while comprising a much smaller percentage of the population, Muslims and Jews have also experienced a similar spike in intolerance.

While this discrimination does not usually result in torture or death, it does lead to increased stereotyping and marginalization. Whether it’s on television shows, in the news media or inside public classrooms, people of faith are expected to keep their convictions out of the public sphere. If not, they are often ridiculed, isolated and ostracized.

You see, we must not allow religious intolerance and persecution of any kind—against any faith—to go unchecked. Complacency or complicity only leads to increasingly dangerous and violent ends, further entrenching us in our prejudices and divisions. America has long been a beacon of hope to the rest of the world, and we must do everything in our power to uphold this most basic and precious of human rights.

For the sake of believers everywhere, that battle must begin right here at home.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization. It serves as a representative voice for the more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals assembled in over 40,000 U.S. member churches and another 500,000 congregations spread throughout the Spanish-speaking diaspora. He has been named by CNN and Fox News as “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME Magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.

Faith and Education Coalition is an initiative of the National Hispanic Christian Leaders Conference (NHCLC). With 2,568 members representing almost 3,000 local churches in 44 states, the Faith and Education Coalition 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/why-religious-freedom-is-the-number-one-human-rights-issue-of-our-time

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La libertad religiosa: el tema más importante de los derechos humanos en nuestro tiempo

Es alarmante, pero cierto: La persecución religiosa está aumentando alrededor del mundo, y constituye el tema más importante de los derechos humanos en nuestro tiempo.

Si cree que estoy exagerando, considere lo siguiente:

Según la investigación más reciente de Pew Research sobre la persecución y las restricciones en la práctica de la religión, aproximadamente ¾ de la población del mundo viven en países con restricciones u hostilidades altas o muy altas contra la religión.

Igual de perturbador, el reporte concluye que los cristianos fueron acosados en 108 países en 2014, comparado con los 102 países en que lo fueron en 2013; los musulmanes fueron acosados en 100 países en 2014, en comparación con 99 en 2013, y aunque componen solo 0.2% de la población global, los judíos fueron acosados en 81 países en 2013, contra 71 en 2012.

Y si cree que este fenómeno está limitado a países tercermundistas, usted está equivocado. El 40%de los líderes judíos en Europa occidental citan el anti-semitismo como el mayor peligro que enfrentan hoy sus comunidades. Este es un aumento de 10% desde 2008.

Como pastor, estoy especialmente preocupado por el aumento del odio hacia los cristianos. Como reportó el World Watch Monitor, los cristianos ahora están siendo asesinados en más países por su fe que en cualquier otro tiempo. Y aunque el genocidio en contra de los cristianos de Siria e Iraq llenó las noticias el año pasado, la región donde la persecución hacia los cristianos está creciendo más no es el Medio Oriente. El crecimiento del nacionalismo religioso en Asia y la radicalización Islámica en África subsahariana son las causas por las cuales ha venido creciendo tan rápidamente la persecución de cristianos en los dos últimos años.

La triste realidad es que la gente de fe, incluyendo budistas, hindús, sijs y otras minorías religiosas, están experimentando una mayor persecución. Y no importa si eres una persona de fe, un agnóstico o un ateo, esta realidad nos debería causar escalofríos a todos. Me duele el solo escribir esto.

Pero también recuerdo lo afortunado que soy al estar protegido por las libertades religiosas de las que gozamos en Estados Unidos, y pienso qué tan importante es que continuemos defendiendo este derecho humano sagrado. Después de todo, las ideas de libertad de expresión y la expresión religiosa –dos derechos para siempre unidos el uno con el otro– son conceptos revolucionarios que debutaron en el mundo cuando fueron escritos en la Constitución de Estados Unidos.

Por siglos hemos asimilado con éxito personas diversas, con sistemas de fe variados, y hemos mantenido el respeto mutuo para que cada persona ejerza su fe en libertad.

¿Tiene Estados Unidos un historial perfecto en esta materia? Por supuesto que no, pero por contraste con el resto del mundo es claramente un legado del cual podemos sentirnos orgullosos. De hecho, el liderazgo de Estados Unidos después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial fue lo que llevó en gran parte a las Naciones Unidas a consagrar la libertad de religión y creencia en al Artículo 18 de la Declaración de los Derechos Humanos.

Desafortunadamente, reflejando las tendencias mundiales, Estados Unidos también ha experimentado un crecimiento en la intolerancia religiosa. Unreporte del Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings indica que casi la mitad de los estadounidenses sienten que la discriminación en contra de los cristianos es un problema igual de grande que la discriminación en contra de otros grupos, incluyendo a los hispanos, las personas de color y otras minorías. Y aunque componen un porcentaje pequeño de la población, los musulmanes y judíos también han experimentado un aumento en intolerancia.

Aunque esta discriminación no termina usualmente en tortura o muerte sí incita a la marginalización y los estereotipos. En los programas de televisión, en las noticias y en los salones de clase se espera que la gente de fe mantengan sus convicciones fuera de la esfera pública. Si no, son aislados, ridiculizados y excluidos.

No podemos permitir que la intolerancia ni la persecución de ninguna clase –en contra de cualquier fe– pase sin ser examinada. La complacencia o las complicidad nos llevan hacia un fin peligroso y violento, arraigándonos aún más a nuestros prejuicios y divisiones. Estados Unidos ha sido un faro de luz para el resto del mundo, y tenemos que hacer todo lo que esté en nuestro poder para mantener este precioso derecho humano.

Por el bien de los creyentes de todo el mundo, la batalla tiene que empezar justo aquí, en nuestro hogar.

Rev. Samuel Rodríguez es Presidente de la Conferencia Nacional de Liderazgo Cristiano Hispano. Ha sido nombrado por CNN y FOX News como “el líder del movimiento Hispano Evangélico,” y la revista TIME lo nominó entre los 100 líderes más influyentes en Estados Unidos.

Nota: La presente pieza fue seleccionada para publicación en nuestra sección de opinión como una contribución al debate público. La(s) visión(es) expresadas allí pertenecen exclusivamente a su(s) autor(es) y/o a la(s) organización(es) que representan. Este contenido no representa la visión de Univision Noticias o la de su línea editorial.

Original post can be read here: http://www.univision.com/noticias/opinion/la-libertad-religiosa-el-tema-mas-importante-de-los-derechos-humanos-en-nuestro-tiempo

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