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Samuel Rodriguez Speaks Out Against Trump Admin. Rescinding DAPA Protections

On Thursday, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly issued a memorandum that effectively rescinded a November 2014 Obama-era memoranda that created the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program.

The program was designed to offer deferred action status to parents of citizens or permanent residents who have lived in the United States since 2010. However, the program was blocked by federal courts and lower court rulings were affirmed by an equally divided eight-justice Supreme Court last June.

In a press release, the Department of Homeland Security explained that the DAPA memoranda was rescinded “because there is no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy.”

Rodriguez, who is the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and senior pastor at New Season Church in Sacramento, California, noted his concerns with Thursday’s memo in a statement shared with The Christian Post on Friday.

“Today, we received the unfortunate news that DHS Secretary John Kelly, after consulting Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has rescinded the Obama-era memoranda known as DAPA, which provided protection from deportation for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents,” Rodriguez explained. “While DREAMers remain protected under DACA, it is of little comfort to children whose parents are now at risk of being deported from this country.”

(Photo: The Christian Post/Sonny Hong)Rev. Samuel Rodriguez on the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission panel on “Hobby Lobby and the Future of Religious Liberty,” at the Southern Baptist Convention, Baltimore, Maryland, June 9, 2014.

Rodriguez also explained that he and others at the NHCLC are reaching out to DHS to express their concern and “offer to help the administration find an alternative solution” that provides “Dreamers and their parents with the security promised to them by then President-elect Donald Trump in December of 2016.”

“At that time, we were heartened to hear his promise ‘to work something out for Dreamers,’ and we are hopeful that sentiment persists,” Rodriguez concluded.

Although the Trump administration will keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Kelly’s memoranda also cancelled an expanded version of DACA that gave three-year work authorization status to immigrants who arrived in the country as children, as opposed to a two-year DACA work authorization.

“I want to — in the highest possible terms — commend President Trump for fulfilling a promise he made directly to the NHCLC by continuing the DACA program and allowing DREAMers to stay in the United States,” Rodriguez said in a separate statement shared with CP. “These young men and women were brought to this country not by their own choice, but they grew up in this country and have become as American as any other American. President Trump’s decision to keep DACA is exhibit A of the administration listening to and cooperating with the Hispanic community, and we commend him for it.”

However, Rodriguez stressed that DHS should not be looking to “separate families.”

“We must remember the real solution to all of these issues in the United States of America is the responsibility of Congress, not the president,” he added. “[A]nd we — once again — appeal to Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It’s more important now than ever before, and it is their responsibility to address this long standing issue. It is their responsibility to take up and prioritize this issue and to, once and for all, solve a problem they have exacerbated by their inaction.”

This is not the first time that Rodriguez has voiced concern with the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies.

Earlier this year, Rodriguez spoke out after reports indicated that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was deporting law-abiding undocumented immigrants with families that rely on them even though Trump vowed that only immigrants who with criminal records would be targeted for deportation.

“[T]here was a percentage, a number of great God-fearing, hard-working people who were not criminals who don’t even have a traffic violation that were deported,” Rodriguez told CP in April. “These are egregious stories.”

“We are looking at, for example, a mom whose kids were born here and whose kids don’t even speak Spanish. The mom who came here legally with a visa and the visa expired and she never got a deportation order was deported,” he continued. “These kind of egregious stories are the stories taking place. That is why I oppose it. I really want our president to fulfill his entire promise.”

Rodriguez is not the only evangelical leader who spoke at Trump’s inauguration who has voiced concern with the Trump administration’s deportation policies.

As a media firestorm has ensued as reports indicate that the administration is preparing to deport as many as 199 Iraqis, most of whom are Christian, back to Iraq, where they could face persecution, leading evangelist Franklin Graham to issue his concerns on the matter on his Facebook page on Friday.

“I find it very disturbing what I have read about Chaldean Christians being rounded up by U.S. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) for possible deportation,” Graham, the president of the evangelical humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse and the son of Billy Graham, wrote. “I would encourage the president to have someone investigate these cases thoroughly. I understand a policy of deporting people who are here illegally and have broken the law. I don’t know all of the details, but I would encourage our president to give great consideration to the threat to lives of Christians in countries like Iraq.”

Read original post at http://www.christianpost.com/news/samuel-rodriguez-speaks-out-against-trump-rescinding-dapa-protections-188226/#rlAfK1tzD0yCMHvy.99

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Major Christian groups praise Trump’s decision to maintain Obama-era DACA program

The Christian humanitarian organization World Relief as well as the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference have praised President Donald Trump for maintaining an Obama-era policy that protects young, illegal immigrants.

On Thursday, Trump officially rescinded the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which was passed in 2014, but never went into effect, while he kept intact DAPA’s sister program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

To date, the DACA program has allowed some 800,000 young immigrants who illegally entered the U.S. as minors to remain in the country, protecting them from the threat of deportation and enabling them to obtain employment authorization.

“We’re very grateful that President Trump and his administration have made this decision,” Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, said in a statement obtained by TheBlaze. “It’s a huge relief for many young people whom we serve. It was a wise and compassionate decision, consistent with the biblical values that compel us to pursue just and compassionate treatment for immigrants and to have a particular concern for children.”

World Relief, which criticized Trump in January for seeking to implement a travel ban that has since been blocked from implementation, provides legal services to several illegal immigrants who apply for so-called “Dreamer” status.

“As we interact with DACA applicants on a day-to-day basis, we hear the individual stories of lives transformed by this program,” Courtney Tudi, director of immigrant legal services for World Relief, said.

And the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference offered similar acclaim for the White House’s decision.

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC, commended Trump “in the highest possible terms” for maintaining his predecessor’s policy regarding those brought to the U.S. as children.

“These young men and women were brought to this country not by their own choice,” he said, “but they grew up in this country and have become as American as any other American.”

He went on to describe the president’s decision to maintain DACA as “exhibit A of the administration listening to and cooperating with the Hispanic community, and we commend him for it.”

In late January, NHCLC Vice President Tony Suarez told TheBlaze that the White House arranged a phone call with Hispanic leaders of several different Christian denominations to discuss how the Trump administration would address “Dreamers.”

And in a phone interview Friday afternoon, Suarez, who said he was “very encouraged” by this week’s decision, highlighted the importance of keeping families together, urging Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill to come together to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

“[Maintaining DACA] places the priority on families,” he told TheBlaze. “That we cannont separate families. … We have to remember that these ‘Dreamers’ are not here because of any fault of their own. They didn’t choose to cross the border, they didn’t choose to come without a passport or without proper documentation.”

He said the Obama-era policy “protects” children and families from being torn apart. Ultimately, though, he said keeping DACA isn’t enough — the White House needs to implement a policy, not unlike DAPA, to protect parents.

“This is the beginning of several steps that need to take place for a true immigration reform to fully be executed,” Suarez noted.

Moving forward, the NHCLC leader said it is up to Congress to take action, to pass a bipartisan, sweeping immigration reform.

“In the same manner that an executive action by President [Barack] Obama could not dictate immigration policy — we’re still left waiting for Congress to act [under Trump],” Suarez said. “And they have promised for — at this point — decades to act. For the last 30 years.”

“It’s time,” he added. “[T]hey need to get this done.”

Trump’s decision to maintain the DACA program marks a shift from his campaign promise to “immediately terminate” the policy, which — at the time — he described as an “illegal executive amnesty.”

Since taking office, though, the president had been softening his perspective on the issue. During a February press conference from the White House, Trump vowed to treat DACA immigrants “with heart.” He said dealing with DACA is “a very, very difficult subject for me.”

“To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids — in many cases, not in all cases,” Trump said. “In some of the cases, they’re having DACA and they’re gang members and they’re drug members, too. But you have some absolutely incredible kids — I would say mostly — they were brought in here in such a way. It’s a very, very tough subject.”

Original post can be read here: http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/06/16/major-christian-groups-praise-trumps-decision-to-maintain-obama-era-daca-program/

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Protecting foreign aid shows our nation’s greatness

What do the Archbishop of New York, a group of Nashville singer/songwriters, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and this ordinary pastor here in Memphis all share in common? We, along with about 100 others, are using our voices to call on our congressional representatives to reject recent proposals put forward by President Trump in his budget blueprint. In particular, we are calling on Congress to protect the International Affairs budget.

Many might wonder why this matters. The rhetoric of “America First” has certainly been a hot topic in our national discourse over the past year.

The president’s proposed cuts to the International Affairs budget loses sight of the fact that foreign assistance, saves innocent lives, makes us safer, helps to create jobs here in America, and, most importantly, is fundamentally the right thing to do for the strongest, most successful country on earth.

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and meet with some of the members of our Tennessee congressional delegation. I went because my Christian faith compels me to speak up for the people of our planet who are not as lucky as we are to live here. I have a moral obligation to speak up for the poor, hungry, vulnerable, and displaced men, women, and children of our world who are supported through the International Affairs budget.

This piece of our government’s monetary pie accounts for less than 1 percent our overall spending. To cut that slice smaller, particularly when it deals with programs that help alleviate the suffering of millions, is a step in the wrong direction.

In recent years we have seen the number of people on our planet living in extreme poverty cut in half. The International Affairs portion of the federal budget helps make this happen. Additionally, it provides vital resources to help stop the spread of diseases like HIV and AIDS as well as Ebola. There are real consequences that come from drastic reductions in funding for this kind of work. Human rights are undermined. Religious freedom is threatened.

As a nation, does that make us look better or worse in the eyes of the world? More importantly, how does that make us look in the eyes of our Creator?

Our nation’s budget reflects our nation’s character. The food we share with the hungry, the medicine we offer to those who are sick, and the hand we extend to the ones trying to climb out of poverty: these are all expressions of our character and values.

As a pastor in our community committed to promoting the common good, I hope we will call on our congressional leaders to do what is right for our nation, our international neighbors, and our souls. There isn’t a faith tradition practiced here that says anything other than to speak up for the poor, the stranger, and the dignity of every human being.

Join me in asking our elected leaders to do what is right. Revise the budget blueprint the president has proposed. Protect the International Affairs budget. Speak up for the most vulnerable people on the planet. In doing this we have the opportunity to reflect our highest values as citizens of a nation that is truly great.

Dr. Stephen Cook is the Senior Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Memphis.

Original post can be read here: http://www.commercialappeal.com/story/opinion/2017/04/19/protecting-foreign-aid-shows-our-nations-greatness/100618328/

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Christian leaders ask Congress to reject Trump’s foreign aid cuts

More than 100 Christian leaders, including 2017 inauguration speakers Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, are calling on Congress not to support cuts in President Trump’s budget to America’s foreign assistance programs that they argue make up less than 1 percent of the federal budget.

“It is our moral responsibility to urge you to support and protect the international affairs budget,” the faith leaders wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders. “… We cannot turn our backs on those in desperate need.”

Trump’s budget calls for cutting the budgets at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development by 28 percent, down from 37 percent from a draft version of the budget the Trump administration released last month.

The budget proposal is only a blueprint with no enforcement mechanism. But it still amounts to a first shot in Trump’s battle with Congress over spending priorities.

The Christian leaders signing the letter to House and Senate leaders represent the Catholic and evangelical communities, including priests, pastors, heads of faith organizations, recording artists and authors. Dolan, a Catholic cardinal and archbishop of New York, opened Trump’s inauguration with a prayer. Rodriguez, who heads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, read from the Sermon on the Mount at the inauguration.

With the budget process moving to Capitol Hill, the leaders stressed that the United States must remain that “shining city on a hill” that “brings hope to poor, hungry, [and] vulnerable.”

“America is blessed with fertile land, abundant natural resources, a strong economy and faithful citizens who value religious freedom,” they wrote. “But beyond our borders, many countries experience unparalleled suffering and loss of life due to extreme poverty, disease, natural disasters and conflict.”

The leaders pointed to the 65 million people who have been displaced worldwide, the most since World War II, in addition to the 795 million people in poverty across the globe who “go to bed hungry every night.”

The group sent the letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Others who signed the letter include: Leith Anderson, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Rich Stearns, president of World Vision USA; Bishop Gregory Mansour, chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services; Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, a prominent Christian singer/songwriter team; Dr. George O. Wood, the general superintendent of Assemblies of God; Dr. Ronnie Floyd, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Jonathan Reckford, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity.

Original post can be read here: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/christian-leaders-ask-congress-to-reject-trumps-foreign-aid-cuts/article/2617557

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What does comprehensive immigration reform mean in Trump’s America?

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

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Florida Pastor Begins Never Trump, Never Hillary Campaign

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.

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Trump Fight With Hispanic Chamber Exposes Divisions in Latino Community

When Donald Trump backed out of an event last week with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, he inadvertently exposed major tensions simmering within the organization over how to deal with his candidacy.

In many ways, the fight is a microcosm of the divisions within the Hispanic community at large: should groups treat Trump like a demagogue threatening Latinos or a legitimate candidate entitled to equal treatment?

You could trace the fight back to Trump’s announcement in June, when he accused many undocumented Mexican immigrants of being “rapists.” That comment set the tone of his bombastic campaign and set off months of strain between Trump and Hispanics in the United States that only got worse as he rocketed up to first place in the polls.

Or you could look to the first day of September, when Javier Palomarez, CEO of the Hispanic Chamber, met privately with Trump and emerged from the meeting calling him “gracious” and “hospitable.” Palomarez may have been freelancing a little. He didn’t tell most other members of the Hispanic Chamber about the meeting beforehand, and afterward he and Trump announced the Q&A on Oct. 8, which Trump later backed out of. (The Q&A was not unprecedented. Candidates such as Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Jeb Bush have done similar events with the group.)

For Frank Garcia, New York state chairman of the Hispanic Chamber, the fight really began the following week in September, when a Trump security guard punched a Latino protester outside Trump Tower. “I was all right in the beginning with him speaking,” Garcia told TIME of Trump’s plans for the Q&A. “[But] when you assault one of our community members in New York—one of our advocates—then you’re assaulting all of us.”

Things started to get ugly at a meeting of chamber leaders in Houston on Sept. 20, BuzzFeed reports. By this point, Garcia, members of the 26 chapters of the Hispanic Chamber in New York, and representatives from other chapters like Texas had all been vocal about their opposition to Trump’s event with the group.

Sam Guzman, chairman of the Texas chapter, explained why he was against Trump’s visit along with Garcia: “This is not like any other candidate,” he said. “This is a candidate who has gone out of his way to insult and degrade the Hispanic community. To sit down and try to work with him I think is a mistake. I think the message would have been better sent by saying, We’re not meeting with Trump because of what he has done and said about Hispanics. He went too far.”

Garcia says police were called to keep him out of the meeting in Houston so he couldn’t raise his objections to Trump. (Guzman says he didn’t arrive in Houston until later in the afternoon.) Garcia was eventually let in, where a video published by BuzzFeed shows a confrontation between him and Palomarez.

“We will meet with Donald Trump, the only person getting embarrassed is you,” Palomarez says to Garcia in the video. “I’m glad to give you the $100,” motioning to give Garcia back his membership dues.

“He is a president that’s paid by the Hispanic Chamber, he’s an employee, you can’t do that to a member,” Garcia said of the incident. “So with all the stuff that happened that day at the Houston convention, that’s when the Spanish press started [reporting the incident] and was disturbed about it, because this is the same issue that happened to Jorge Ramos. He was kicked out for trying to ask a question.” (Ramos, a Mexican-American journalist, was removed from a Trump event in August after asking confrontational questions, then allowed back in.)

Now Garcia says he and his lawyer are considering suing the Hispanic Chamber for trying to take away his membership and bar him from the Houston event.

Palomarez, for his part, spoke to Latino USA defending his choice to invite Trump to speak. “Whether or not we should ignore certain candidates is not the question here,” he said. “Whether we should ignore Donald Trump or anyone else is not the question. The real question is: Should we allow any candidate, including Donald Trump, to ignore us? … The idea here is that we will engage all candidates, no matter how strongly we disagree or how distasteful their views are.”

For the moment, the contest within the Hispanic Chamber over Trump’s visit has been rendered moot. Trump backed out of the event the week before it was due to be held because he was worried he would be “put on trial” during the question and answer session, according to a statement by the organization.

But more broadly, the dissenting members of the organization and the Hispanic community at large are still struggling to figure out how to deal with Trump going forward.

There are those who agree with Palomarez, that the best defense against Trump is subjecting him to the scrutiny and tough questions that a legitimate candidate must face. Daniel Garza, executive director of the Koch-backed Libre Initiative, is of that camp.

“It is part of our electoral process,” Garza said of Trump’s candidacy. “I wouldn’t encourage anybody to censor anybody. He’ll be judged on the merits of his ideas and his narrative. If people reject that, fine. Let the American people decide. No one organization gets to decide for any Latino or any group of Latinos if we hear from him or not.”

But there are also those who agree with Garcia, that Trump is a menace who should not be given any more platforms to espouse his views. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, is on that side of the divide.

“Right now, he’s not a candidate,” Rodriguez said of Trump. “He’s a demagogue who is using the Latino and immigrant community as a steppingstone and sacrificing this community on the altar of political expediency.”

Rodriguez thinks that until Trump has a “mea culpa” moment where he apologizes for some of his comments, the best strategy for the Hispanic community will be to disengage. “The Latino community should continue to consider Donald Trump an entertainer who is attempting to broaden his brand,” Rodriguez said.

Carmen Hernandez, president of the New York LGBTQS Chamber, agrees with Rodriguez about how to deal with Trump. “We shouldn’t give him the time of day,” she said. “Period.”

You can read the original article here: http://time.com/4061402/donald-trump-us-hispanic-chamber-of-commerce/

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Angered by Trump and Cruz, Hispanic conservatives plan ‘unprecedented’ meeting

Months since Donald Trump sparked outrage with his comments about Mexican immigrants, about two dozen of the nation’s top Hispanic conservative activists are joining forces to respond and issue a warning to the Republican Party.

The activists plan to meet on Oct. 27 in Boulder, Colo., the day before GOP presidential candidates meet in the same city for a debate hosted by CNBC. Plans for the “unprecedented gathering” have been in the works for several weeks, according to organizers, who shared the details first with The Washington Post.

Attendees will be “the people and organizations the RNC and GOP campaigns count on to engage the Latino electorate,” said Alfonso Aguilar, head of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership and a lead organizer of the meeting. “We’ll discuss the tone of the primary, comments about the Hispanic community and some of the immigration proposals that have been made.”
After the meeting, the group plans to hold a news conference to “identify several candidates that will not have our support and who we are certain that if they become the GOP nominee will not get enough Latino voter support to win the general election,” Aguilar said.

The meeting will include representatives of the LIBRE Initiative, a group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers that is building conservative grassroots support among Hispanics. Also in the room will be leaders of the Latino Coalition, a national organization of Hispanic business leaders; the Hispanic Leadership Fund, a conservative group; the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the nation’s largest Latino evangelical organization that has hosted events with several presidential candidates; and veterans of past GOP campaigns and presidential administrations.
Aguilar said they will focus especially on the comments and proposals of Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) among others. Trump sparked outrage for suggesting in his announcement speech that undocumented immigrants from Mexico are criminals and rapists, while Cruz credited the New York businessman for raising the issue of immigration and refused to condemn the comments.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) speaks in Washington Sept. 25. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Trump and Cruz also support ending birthright citizenship, and most of their talk on immigration focuses primarily on fortifying the U.S.-Mexico border, despite declines in illegal border crossings in recent years.

Trump also has sparred repeatedly with reporters — especially from Spanish-language outlets favored by many Latino voters — whenever he’s asked about his offensive comments or for details of his immigration plan. As a result, Latinos have increasingly unfavorable views of Trump and the Republican Party.
But overall, Trump remains dominant atop the Republican field. He earned the support of 32 percent of Republican and GOP-leaning voters in a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this week. And he is enjoying wider leads in other national polls and of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. Cruz, meanwhile, is one of the party’s most prolific fundraisers and is enjoying strong support in Iowa.
And yet — as GOP leaders have warned — it is mathematically impossible for a presidential candidate to win the White House without significant Latino support. Republican Mitt Romney failed to win the 2012 race in part because he grabbed just 27 percent of the Latino vote, a decline from the numbers earned by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Romney’s suggestion that many undocumented immigrants would “self-deport” was seen as a fatal mistake that ruined any hope of building on McCain’s numbers.

With Latinos accounting for much of the population growth in the West, Southwest and Midwest, winning them over will be even more critical in several more swing states next year, including Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Several Hispanic conservatives said they plan to attend, if only to draw more attention to the concerns of Latino Republicans upset by how little party leaders and other candidates have stood up to Trump’s attacks.

The inclusion of the LIBRE Initiative is especially notable, given its wealthy benefactors and how quickly the group has begun organizing in several states with large Latino populations. On Tuesday, the group hosted former Florida governor Jeb Bush for a candidate forum in Las Vegas and has already hosted similar meetings with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Daniel Garza, the group’s executive director, said he is unable to attend in person but is sending other colleagues in his place. “We care very much about the narrative and how the right talks about Latinos,” he said.

Mario H. Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, said in an e-mail that “it must be crystal clear to my fellow conservatives: Border security and reforming the current system that impedes the rule of law are both necessary to resolving the current immigration mess our country is in. But every insult hurled at hardworking Hispanic families and thinly-veiled anti-immigrant pandering not only gets the radical Left one step closer to keeping hold of the White House, it imperils progress on a whole host of issues that conservatives hold dear.”

Aguilar said that others planning to attend the meeting include Rosario Marin, the former U.S. treasurer, and Massey Villareal, the former chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Leaders of the chamber met with Trump in September and the candidate initially agreed to appear at a forum hosted by the group, but later backed out.

Other attendees have asked that their names be withheld for now, Aguilar said.

The Cruz campaign pushed back against suggestions that conservative Hispanic leaders are upset with the senator, pointing to frequent meetings he or his representatives have had with Hispanic groups or their leaders.

They also passed along a statement from Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC, saying their recent meetings with Cruz “speak to a leader who we admire and appreciate. His commitment to country, faith and family reflect Latino conservative values indeed. He has been nothing less than gracious and accommodating as it pertains to listening to our concerns regarding the 2016 election. Senator Ted Cruz is not Donald Trump.”

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Presidential Election 2016: Conservative Latinos Plan ‘Unprecedented Gathering’ Ahead of GOP Debate

Conservative Latinos plan to hold an “unprecedented gathering” in Boulder, Colorado, the site of the CNBC presidential debate on Oct. 28, to counter anti-Latino perceptions sparked by GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

Organizers have invited “the people and organizations the RNC and GOP campaigns count on to engage the Latino electorate,” said Alfonso Aguilar, who heads the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership, The Washington Post reported. “We’ll discuss the tone of the primary, comments about the Hispanic community and some of the immigration proposals that have been made.”

Trump has been at odds with the Latino community since he launched his presidential campaign by alleging that Mexico brought “criminals” and “rapists” to the United States, and his radical positions on immigration have irked even conservative Latinos.

In yet another attack on Latino advocacy groups, meanwhile, the Republican front-runner on Tuesday said that such organizations — some of which had called on NBC to disinvite him from hosting “Saturday Night Live” —  are “scammers,” The Hollywood Reporter noted.

“These are people that go around, they look for money from people,” Trump told CNN. “I had a group come up to me, the very supposedly prominent group. The first thing out of their mouths is like, ‘Would you like to join our coalition? It will cost from $25,000 to $2 million to join.'”

But the meeting in Boulder, on Oct. 27, will focus less on Trump and more on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the candidates with a Latino background challenging the real estate tycoon for the Republican Party’s 2016 nomination, according to The Washington Post.

Aguilar’s group plans to hold a news conference to “identify several candidates that will not have our support and who we are certain that if they become the GOP nominee will not get enough Latino voter support to win the general election,” the Latino Partnership leader said.

Also present at the event will be representatives from the LIBRE Initiative, a group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers; the Latino Coalition, a national organization of Hispanic business leaders; the Hispanic Leadership Fund, a conservative group; the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the nation’s largest Latino evangelical organization.

Original article can be read here: http://www.latinpost.com/articles/89372/20151023/presidential-election-2016-conservative-latinos-plan-unprecedented-gathering-ahead-gop.htm

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Latino Conservatives United To Attack Trump — But Are Fighting Over Whether To Hit Ted Cruz, Too

A group of national Hispanic conservatives are set to come together Tuesday to blast Donald Trump before the GOP debate in Colorado. But behind the scenes there are sharp disagreements over whether to include Cruz, too. The LIBRE Initiative has already pulled out.

At a charity golf tournament in Houston last week, an influential Hispanic political operative was telling a group of Republican donors and businessman about an event he and other Latinos had planned.

The idea, Massey Villareal told the group, according to an attendee, was to display Hispanic, conservative unity against Donald Trump — and Ted Cruz.

Villareal, the former chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said 25 national Hispanic conservatives would hold a press conference before this week’s Republican debate in the hopes of forcing Trump’s poll numbers down. But, according to the source, he ripped into both men, calling Cruz a HINO — Hispanic in Name Only.

The next day, the Washington Post reported plans for the press conference, identifying Trump and Cruz as targets of what organizers deemed an “unprecedented” event.

There’s a problem, however: The supposedly unified group of former Bush administration officials, high-level RNC Latino surrogates, and Hispanic leaders has been anything but unified. There is still confusion about whom the event will target, and a major conflict about whether the group should include Cruz. Some feel strongly that the Texas senator should be criticized for positions like ending birthright citizenship. Some feel the RNC should be hit for not being more critical of Trump. Others say the party has its hands tied.

Behind the scenes, the LIBRE Initiative — a major player in the group — felt misled when the news broke of the event. Hit Trump? The group’s executive director Daniel Garza was more than happy to sign up for that. But the group was not comfortable attacking Cruz, whom they view as distinct from Trump.

The LIBRE Initiative has since pulled out of the event. From the beginning, Garza could not attend because of a scheduling conflict, but he now no longer plans to send representatives from his organization.

Villarreal said the event is about drawing a line in the sand. “We’re going to call out Donald Trump as a community of Latinos,” he told BuzzFeed News. “We’re conservative and respectful and he has no respect for our community.”

But those involved still don’t seem to know the exact form the press conference will take and who will be included. After the news became public, Villarreal told NBC News Trump would be the only one named. Speaking with BuzzFeed News, he left it open once again.

“My guess is that Trump will be the only target,” he said. “But if we concur that Ted Cruz is on the radar screen, we’ll do it, but he’s not the target.”

BuzzFeed News was sent an early, draft version of the list of conservatives who would participate in the press conference — though, according to the source, the Cruz question could cause some to drop out.

The list includes Samuel Rodriguez, who heads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), the largest group of Latino evangelicals; Alfonso Aguilar of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership; Rosario Marin, a former U.S. treasurer; Hector Barreto, former head of the U.S. small business administration; Allen Gutierrez of the business oriented Latino Coalition; and others.

Aguilar — who is one of the event’s main organizers, with Villarreal, Marin, and Colorado donor Jerry Natividad — said the initial invitation was simple: to discuss the tone that some candidates have employed regarding the Hispanic community and to look at the candidates’ immigration proposals. Speaking of Garza, he said it would be “disingenuous” to think that process wouldn’t include Cruz.

“If you’re a Hispanic leader what do you think that implies? Only Trump? Really?” Aguilar said. “It’s very disingenuous to think that would not include Cruz.”

Aguilar said a high-level Cruz campaign staffer called him after news of the event broke asking if he views Cruz the same as Trump. The message from the campaign was, “We’re concerned,” Aguilar said. “You should be concerned,” he responded.

Since the press conference was announced both Garza and the NHCLC’s Rodriguez have released statements lauding Cruz.

Garza said that while he “vehemently” disagrees with Cruz on ending birthright citizenship, he views him as different than Trump.

“I want to make it very clear, I have tremendous respect for Sen. Ted Cruz,” he said. “We have to maintain a relationship with folks that we are aligned with on other issues. I would advise the other folks to be considerate of that working relationship and be careful with setting a precedent that just because you disagree with an elected leader, you’re going to go on attack mode.”

Sources both inside the group and with knowledge of the fallout since the event became public said RNC officials are not happy with the press conference — they want to emphasize party unity. Some within the group aren’t thrilled with how the RNC has handled Trump, though, believing that the party committee should be more critical.

“There are some that want the RNC to take a bigger stand,” a source close to the group said. “But the RNC is not going to do that. If someone says something horribly racist they might say something, but they’re not going to talk on policy, that’s not the RNC’s role. It does politics not policy.”

Besides the question of who will or won’t be mentioned at the press conference (Aguilar said Santorum might be because of his comments on limiting legal immigration, others said Ben Carson may because of comments he made about drones on the border, and Chris Christie for comparing tracking immigrants to FedEx packages), is the issue of whether the Republican nominee will be able to count on these Latino leaders as surrogates in the general election.

Multiple sources confirmed that the sentiment that has emerged is: “Fine, you don’t feel you need us in the primary, but you’re going to need us in the general.” They said depending on who the nominee is, the Hispanic conservatives may not want to “make the hard case to Spanish-language networks” defending candidates they feel have disrespected the community. None would defend Trump, but candidates like Cruz and others could benefit from support like that.

“I can only speak for our organization but we’re definitely not inclined to help people who aren’t helping themselves,” said the Hispanic Leadership Fund’s Mario H. Lopez, who is part of the group, after being asked about Cruz. “We’re happy to be helpful and assist any candidate, at any level, who has their heart in the right place and is devoting real energy and resources but I don’t see us being very motivated to help any candidates if that’s not the case.”

Luis Alvarado, a Republican strategist who is part of the group, said targeting specific candidates is not the point of the event but the rhetoric that “scapegoats Latinos to earn poll points in Iowa” is.

“Colorado is one of those states that demonstrated it can be won with Latino votes if the candidates and the message are inclusive and not offensive,” he said.

Aguilar said the fact that the meeting hasn’t happened yet, but the Cruz campaign has already responded, shows the effect the group can have by coming together. He said it is about policy, noting that Cruz last week led the effort to crackdown on sanctuary cities, “which criminalizes every undocumented immigrant.” Immigration is a gateway issue for Hispanics, he said.

But, referencing a Trump event in Miami on Friday where a supporter dragged an immigration protester to the ground, Aguilar said rhetoric can not be cast aside.

“It’s totally alarming,” he said. “Rhetoric and then the reaction to that rhetoric, when things like that start happening the candidate needs to step in and say something.”

That’s why on Trump — but also Cruz — Aguilar said he will speak up.

“I can not look the Hispanic community in the eye and remain silent and say everything is fine,” he said. “We have to take a stand.”

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