HOUSTON – Several different Hispanic evangelicals leaders speaking at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in Houston this week argued a biblical basis for the Obama administration’s push to grant legal status to millions of illegal immigrants currently in the United States.
While the NHCLC is a conservative Christian organization that generally sides with Republican conservatives on moral issues, including opposition to same-sex marriage and a strong pro-life position that opposes abortion, the group’s membership also generally cites 11 million as the number of illegal immigrants currently in the United States, arguing their Christian faith, willingness to work and devotion to family values further justify the determination of the evangelical organization to make sure U.S. immigration policy takes particular care not to divide illegal immigrant families by deportation.
“We have been disappointed by both Republicans and Democrats,” Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC, explained to reporters. “It’s about our Christian faith. It’s about Matthew 25 and Leviticus 19. It’s about finding a way where we can reconcile Romans 13, ‘respecting the rule of law.’ We are not supporting amnesty as an organization. We’re not in favor of open borders. We believe the United States is a sovereign nation that has the right and responsibility to secure our borders. We are concerned that there are millions of people in this nation where we look the other way, and we believe it is hypocritical to separate families, to deport a mom or a dad and leave the children behind. We need to find a way to integrate as expeditiously as possible those who have been here that are not dependent on government subsidies, but are depending on the good things God has placed in each one of their lives, that are adhering to the law with the exception of entering the country illegally.”
Like the reporting you see here? Sign up for free news alerts from WND.com, America’s independent news network.
Arguing for a legislative solution, Rodriguez called upon the Republican majority in Congress to work with President Obama in passing comprehensive immigration reform.
“Republicans must cross the proverbial Jordan of immigration reform in order to step into the promised land of the Hispanic electorate,” he said. “Almost half of all Hispanics voted for George W. Bush in 2004. This is not the African American vote that is locked in 90 percent Democrat. This is the quintessential, independent electorate of the first half of the 21st century. The Latino electorate is up for grabs.”
Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy research and director of the Research Institute for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, shared Rodriguez’s view.
“Southern Baptists share the concern for immigrants already among us,” he said. “Southern Baptists first ask if we can get some clear guidance from Scripture on the immigration question. This was important as well for me. I initially related to immigration reform like a lot of the people who are opposed to immigration reform, believing illegal immigrants have come to the United States violating U.S. laws, are staying here either by overstaying their visas or on fraudulent documents. My gut for a pure sense of justice was that all illegal immigrants should be deported.”
Duke explained his views changed after consulting the Bible.
“Leviticus 19:34 says, ‘But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself …” Duke said, citing the Old Testament.
“In Matthew 25:35, in the New Testament, Jesus says, ‘I was a stranger, and ye took me in.’ Whether you look at the Old Testament or the New Testament, you get the same message. I had to let God work in my life as I thought about this particular question. As God worked in my life, it became apparent to me that God wanted me to work in a way that was compassionate and understanding and loving toward these 11 million undocumented people who, other than the fact that they came here or are here illegally, are law-abiding, family-oriented people.
“These are people who are contributing to society, supporting themselves and raising families. You can’t possibly be Christian to send them back to hostile environments where many do not even speak the language if they were born here. There may be no jobs for them back there. I don’t see how we can call ourselves Christian if we don’t deal with these people in a compassionate way, securing the borders, but allowing the 11 million undocumented already here to remain her legally by putting them on a path to legal status that ends up in citizenship.”
Also speaking at the NHCLC conference was León Rodriguez, director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, who agreed that Christian compassion required finding a solution to provide legal status to the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States.
“My parents and grandparents came from Cuba where they were fleeing Fidel Castro’s dictatorship,” Rodriguez explained in a press conference prior to his speech.
The Obama administration’s plan to have the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services implement the memorandum signed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Nov. 20, 2014, designed to implement Obama’s executive actions, has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge in Texas.