Immigration reform: Hispanic values voters and the agenda of the Lamb

GETTY IMAGES Presidential candidates President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Our commitment, as people of strong faith, is … Continued

GETTY IMAGES

Presidential candidates President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Our commitment, as people of strong faith, is to reconcile conviction with compassion, truth with love, and righteousness with justice. At the end of the day our number one objective is to reconcile the Rev. Billy Graham’s message with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march. In doing so, we advance not the agenda of the Donkey or the Elephant, but exclusively the agenda of the Lamb.

It’s about the right thing to do. The Lamb’s agenda activates a kingdom culture firewall of righteousness and justice. In other words, in order to defend life and protect liberty and facilitate the platform by which all Americans can pursue happiness, we must apply biblical optics and apply corrective lenses to spiritual and cultural myopia.

The Hispanic community, and particularly Hispanic faith or values voters, are standing at a historic precipice. As a community, many of these voters are deeply conflicted between what they perceive to be a choice. They feel that the former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has articulated campaign positions that align closely with their core values of life and liberty, but they are deeply concerned that Romney’s stated positions on immigration reform are contrary to their values on this very personal issue. This choice boils down to a simple and fundamental question: What do we do with 11 million human beings that are currently here and that are undocumented – especially those that have been here for a long time, and are otherwise law abiding and contributing members of society?

We firmly believe that on this issue, President Obama had great intentions. We wholeheartedly believe that he supports comprehensive immigration reform.

Nevertheless, our president had two years with a Democratic majority and he made a promise that, for other reasons and other factors – and we’ll take him at his word – his promise was not able to be fulfilled. However, Republicans on the other hand have embraced a sort of demagoguery and rhetoric that has polarized many Hispanic Americans.

President Obama continues to articulate an outline for immigration reform. However, the outline that he advocates is identical to the outline that failed to pass in both 2006 and 2007. As a leader, it is incumbent upon the president to articulate a new path – a path that can find bipartisan support. In that regard he has failed the Hispanic community.

The former governor, right on his Web site, states, “As president, Mitt Romney will implement a national immigration strategy to address our nation’s broken immigration system. He will reach across the aisle and work with Congress to forge lasting solutions.” He has also said, “We have to work on a collaborative basis, not because we’re going to compromise our principle, but because there’s common ground….But we need to have leadership — leadership in Washington that will actually bring people together and get the job done and could not care less if — if it’s a Republican or a Democrat….” And in the presidential debate, after calling out the president on his failure to deliver immigration reform in his first term, Romney added, “I’ll get it done. I’ll get it done. First year.”

We would further note that in 2013, neither political party will have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. Therefore, since both candidates have promised immigration reform in 2013, we remind all voters – and particularly Hispanic faith voters that stand so conflicted on this issue – that whichever candidate wins the election, they will be obligated to seek a compromise on immigration reform by reaching across the aisle to work hand in hand with the other party. Therefore, we should look to each candidate to see who is better equipped to work across the aisle on this issue.

Both parties have played the proverbial political football with this issue, and therefore with the Hispanic electorate. That’s why we do believe that it’s wonderful to see the church take the lead on this issue that transcends politics where they reconcile Leviticus 19 with Romans 13. The rule of law argument against comprehensive immigration reform is often framed by pointing to the Biblical passage of Romans 13, which opens with the sentence, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” However, we would suggest that to really see how the Bible looks at the issue of immigration, and how we should deal with the 11,000,000 undocumented immigrants that reside in our country, one must continue reading Romans 13, which continues, “….owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law….’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” This passage of the bible does not conflict with Leviticus 19: 33-34, it conforms with it, as Leviticus states, “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

This election finds the Hispanic community of faith voters in an affirming moment. It’s a redemptive moment, collectively, not only for the Latino community or the evangelical, but for the body of Christ. As we minister to the immigrants in our midst, we persistently confront the dysfunction of our current immigration legal system, a system that mocks the rule of law; only selectively enforces laws against both immigrant workers and employers; invites unjust working conditions, and even human trafficking; divides families through deportation and backlogs for lawful family reunification; and stifles the full flourishing of people made in God’s image. To that respect, justice will not and cannot be silent.

Justice demands that as a nation we rise above the political fray. Justice requires us to reconcile the rule of law, or Romans 13, with a compassionate process of integration for those that have come with a pure purpose of providing for their families a better tomorrow, or Leviticus 19. Justice is not amnesty. Justice secures the border, stops illegal immigration but also builds a bridge where the undocumented that can qualify through a strict regimen of metrics, can pay fines and begin a process of fully embracing the American dream.

Therefore, as people of faith, we urge our brothers and sisters to look at this election with fresh eyes, an open mind, and an open heart. We urge you to look first to your values. To those Hispanic values voters, we feel that you should not fear either Obama for failing to achieve immigration reform, or Romney for failing to articulate a compassionate approach toward solving our broken immigration system. Ultimately, both candidates will need to seek compromise as they lead on this issue. Look therefore to your hearts, and to your fundamental values. Pray on this important decision. Do not cast your vote in fear. We pray that you cast your vote in faith.

Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Robert Gittelson is president and co-Founder, of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Samuel Rodriguez
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  • wmpowellfan

    How can a faith body promote illegal immigration?

    And why should one ethnic group believe that its members should be exempt from the laws of God and man that bind everyone else?

    The alien among us is not an innocent, but someone who mocks the rule of law. That alien is involved in gang violence, human smuggling, drugs, prostitution, identity theft. That alien defrauds the IRS; that alien takes an American job. What part of religion says to reward or encourage criminal behavior?

    Let’s also be honest about numbers. There are far, far more than 11 million illegal aliens in America. More are crossing every day; more children of illegals are being born here every day. And those numbers will continue to multiply, like the loaves and fishes, if illegal immigration is treated as a sacrament.

  • jeffreed

    If you want to offer moral arguments to support a position, it would be a honest soul who also acknowledges the moral arguments against something. If one looks at the unemployment rate for people without a college education – north of 15 percent – one sees people who life is badly damaged by illegal immigrants. One might well argue that who is more deserving a place in this country. On the one hand, we have people who are patiently waiting in line to come to this country legally and on the other hand we have people who have broken our immigration laws and come here illegally. Assuming that somewhere between 55 and 60 percent of the illegal immigrants in this country come from Mexico – at least according to Pew Hispanic -, one must acknowledge that the vast majority – Mexicans – come from one of the wealthiest and most prosperous countries in the world – depending on the matrix used Mexico possesses somewhere between the 11th and 13th largest economy in the world. I find it amusing that people who want to make moral arguments for illegal immigrants always fail to point out that equally persuasive arguments along the same lines can be made against illegal arguments. For the most part, the religious community in this country that supports the illegal immigrants also always fails to acknowledge the real or under lying reason for their position – butts in the seats.

  • Peta-de-Aztlan

    We need the Agenda of the Lion. Both Obama and Romney are corporate puppets. We need a 3rd Party alternative. Since Chomsky is not running I am voting for Jill Stein with the Green Party as a rational alternative.

    In relation to any ethnic/racial identify, I am a Chicano de Aztlan. The term Hispanic is an insult to me. Hispanic is a term invtented during the Nixon Administration. Even the term Latino leaves much to be desired. La Raza Cosmica are actually indigenous natives to the USA.

    We never to unite as one family of humanity, dismantle the War Machine of the Evil Empire and start over with a Global Liberation. Major fundamental changes are coming upon us. We should listen and heed the warnings of Mother Nature. Our whole system of doing things is out of whack.

    Venceremos Unidos! We Will Win United!
    Peter S. López AKA @Peta_de_Aztlan
    Sacramento, California, Aztlan c/s

  • iceking

    I agree with you 100%. This is one area of this issue that I really don’t understand. If what the media conveys to us about Hispanic voters is true, with respect to the immigration issue, it’s almost as if these voters expect special treatment for their family members and/or fellow hispanics. Many like to cite the strong virtues found in the Hispanic community like family, education, and hardwork. Well, what about accountability? Do they believe that these people should not be held accountable for the actions? Do they believe that its ok for others to be held to account for breaking the law but members of theyre ethnicity should not? I mean, its not like illegal aliens are being sent to some camp in the middle of no where and being gased, sprayed with water hoses, hanged, etc. They are simply being sent back to their native lands where they were from birth up until the time they decided to come here.
    The bottom line is that they need to follow immigration law like everyone else and be held accountable when they don’t. I understand the blood is thicker than water but every AMERICAN should be able to understand that

  • iceking

    Either way people need to be held accountable. Period

  • ONE OF MANY, USA CITIZEN

    The only reform of our immigration law is to enhance the law to the point system that Canada has and not allow a child born in the USA to be a citizen by birth if both parents are not USA citizens. Bear in mind that ILLEGAL ALIENS are not IMMIGRANTS . All ILLEGAL ALIENS in the USA are unlawfully here and it is illegal by federal law to hire or rent to them. All ILLEGAL ALIENS can be of any age. You as a American citizen have no right to enter another nation unlawfully. Try it and see what happens.

  • SODDI

    “agenda of the Lamb”

    Sure sounds cultish to me.

  • BerkeleyBW

    I don’t see how enabling poor foreigners to take the jobs of poor Americans (many of whom are minorities) conforms to any sort of Christian morality.

    On a planet of 7 billion souls, immigration cannot satisfy the economic desires of billions of poor people. Home-grown solutions like microlending seem far more appropriate to the problem than worsening the lives of America’s poor by importing millions of job competitors.

  • UglyAmerican2001

    In trying to put a Christian spin on illegal immigration, resorting to lying by omission and racism is not the way to do it.
    Jesus said to help the travelers and foreigners, but he also said that all people should obey the laws of the nations they are in. Does “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s” ring any bells? There is an entire book of the Bible that deals with a Christian’s obligations as a citizen and to government. It’s called “Romans”. But for the good of the Latino community we should ignore that, right? Because Latinos are the only people who come to the US without permission or because millions of Mexicans see and easier peso to be made in the US?
    Is this why Mexico and the Latin nations are suing US states, not in World Court, but in our own courts to dismantle our immigration laws while their’s stay intact? Does this Christian attitude have anything to do with the $50 billion or so that is sent to Mexico through remittances each year?
    The US is not a theocracy and neither is Mexico or any other Latin country. No nation in this hemisphere allows people to enter and remain in the country without proper permission. Some, like Mexico, are downright un-Christian about it and put illegal aliens in prison for a year or more before deporting them.
    Anyone who grew up in a border state recognizes the argument that for some reason we must be better than their country to them while they pick our pockets to send the proceeds home, as a traditional Mexican con-game.
    We should not allow people to break our laws as they like no matter what race or ethnicity they are. The US has been working to stamp out racism for half a century and so our laws are designed to be color-blind. Yet Latinos consistently shout “racism” to excuse their fellows breaking them.
    Our laws are no more “racist” than those of any other nation. Latinos are not born with a birthright to ignore laws they don;t agree with, especially those of other nations. It is time tha

  • two4three2

    I’m half-Hispanic and people like the author do not speak for me!

    No politician—on either side of the aisle—should be pandering to lawbreakers or those who aide and abet them.

  • wmpowellfan

    I wish every legislator, and every CHURCH, would read this comment.

    Well said and thank you.

  • mehuwss

    Faith voters should acknowledge that the undocumented immigrants are here because the Americans hire them. If the Americans themselves had followed the law, there would be no jobs for the undocumented immigrants.
    SHARED CULPABILITY are the operative words here. The undocumented immigrants and the Americans share the blame for the immigration mess and that is why swift legalization is the right thing to do.

  • Delmarghb

    thank you for taking the time to write and post such a powerful response to those that would use scripture to champion endless and unlimited immigration for only our country and to dismiss our laws and the will of our people.
    It is interesting in poll after poll the MAJORITY of every religous group in America say web have enough immigration, it is only the leadership of the faiths that want to continue ever growing amounts of immigration, the better to fill the seats in their chuch or synagogue.
    too often, we see those that pocket the profits of immigration, then pass on all the social,economic and environmetal costs to the communities. Chuch leaders wanting to wear a moral crown for caring more for ‘ the others” while ignoring the working poor here now who have seen their wages depressed and job opportunities lost for decades should be ashamed!

  • wmpowellfan

    I disagree.

    There are indeed dishonest employers who hire illegals. But illegals come here to cash in on “free” childbirth, healthcare, education, translation, and perks like low-cost housing and welfare for kids born in America.

    This is perhaps the worst abuse: hijacking U.S. citizenship.

    We do need to put a stop to the incentives and rewards for illegal immigration. And we need to punish people who employ illegals.

    But let’s acknowledge that illegals are plenty culpable.

    “Swift legalization” only rewards illegals. There is nothing “holy” about rewarding criminal actions.

  • Delmarghb

    liberal journalists spread the idea that conservatives and republicans would be better served by catering to hispanics by granting another amnesty and end any enforcement of immigration thereby increasing the number of Hispanics, who will in almost all cases will never vote for conservative republicans. the reason being most Hispanics identify as liberal democrats when it comes to pocketbook economic issues.
    so GOP, you are supposed to be the stupid party anyway, if you want to increase the number of voters who will never end up voting for you, bring in millions of them and grant the ones here yet another amnesty.

  • ONE OF MANY, USA CITIZEN

    The root cause of ILLEGAL ALIENS invsion of our country is their ILLEGAL EMPLOYERS.

  • ONE OF MANY, USA CITIZEN

    mehuwss, they are ILLEGAL ALIENS not immigrants what so ever. There is a big difference of the two where as all ILLEGAL AILENS are unlawfully in the USA. Why don’t you try their type of entry into Mexico and see where you end up?

  • ONE OF MANY, USA CITIZEN

    IKE did correctly but REGAN did very wrong dealing with ILLEGAL ALIENS in our country. The 14th Amendment intent was not for any ILLEGAL ALIENS. It is time for a case on the 14th Amendment ‘s intent be brought to the Supreme Court.

  • wmpowellfan

    We need to stop giving birthright citizenship to foreigners — especially if they are here illegally — and stop birth tourism as well.

    Both are detrimental to national security.

    We also must stop educating the children of illegal aliens. The whole idea was because they were here in small numbers. That certainly is no longer the case. Schools are no longer competitive because resources go to kids who can’t speak English.

  • mehuwss

    The USA opted to look the other way for a couple of decades and allowed American employers to boost their profits by using undocumented immigrants who came here to escape poverty.
    If you break it, you own it and the undocumented immigrants who have toiled in the US economy for years should be legalized NOW.

  • wmpowellfan

    Illegals broke our immigration system.

    Where else but America can you break immigration law, and be rewarded with healthcare, education and other benefits paid by citizens and legal immigrants?

    In other words, we’ve done enough for illegals. Time for them to go home.

  • wigglwagon

    Every deferred action that is granted should be accompanied by the permanent deportation of the illegal alien parents who caused this problem. Those who were brought here as children want to be placed at the front of the line but they also want those who caused the problem to not be held accountable for their crimes. Any so called solution that leaves illegal workers employed and citizen and legal immigrants unemployed will never be acceptable.

    It is time for the President of the United States to start living up to his responsibilities to the law abiding citizen and legal immigrant families.

    Embezzlers are not allowed to keep on embezzling until their day in court. Why are criminal immigrants allowed to keep practicing their crimes? Just letting them out on bail is like leaving embezzlers on the job with access to steal even more. Illegal immigrants should have to await their day in immigration court in their own country.