(Photo: The Christian Post)
Leaders of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America's largest Hispanic Christian organization with over 40,000 member churches, are traveling to Washington, D.C., today to meet with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other top House Republicans in an effort to revive stalled immigration legislation.
NHCLC President Samuel Rodriguez told The Christian Post Tuesday that the goal of the meeting is to dispel Republican fears that the Hispanic community is committed to the Democratic party and to argue that Hispanic evangelicals have more in common with the Republican party on family, faith and religious liberty issues.
The NHCLC will meet White House officials at 9 a.m. ET, then meet with 19 House Republican leaders at 1 p.m. ET A press conference is scheduled for after the meeting at 2 p.m. Also at 9 a.m., the Evangelical Immigration Table, which the NHCLC partners with, will hold a press conference outside the Capitol. That press conference will be followed by a worship service at Church of the Reformation. After worship, attendees will be visiting the offices of House members to express their support for comprehensive immigration reform.
Besides Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and many other top Republican leaders will attend the meeting, Rodriguez assured.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, will accompany Rodriguez to the meetings. There is a large Southern Baptist constituency within the NHCLC and Moore will help explain the importance of Latinos within the larger faith community. By some projections, a majority of evangelicals in the United States will be Latino by 2030. Plus, the 27 percent of Latinos who did vote for Romney were mostly Cuban-Americans or evangelicals, Rodriguez pointed out.
If Republicans do not pass comprehensive immigration reform, Rodriguez believes they will lose any opportunity to win a presidential election for at least the next three contests.
"The idea that by providing a pathway to citizenship ... will somehow egregiously impact the Republican Party is a ridiculous idea," he said. "It's a lie. Our message is simple: Hispanics are people of faith, family and religious liberty."
Because of that Hispanic devotion to faith, family and religious liberty, Rodriguez believes that Republicans can gain their support. President George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Latino vote, he reminded. And, while Mitt Romney did much worse than that, Romney's poor showing among Latinos was due to "anti-immigrant rhetoric within the Republican Party."
Rodriguez's message to Republicans will be: "This is a moment ... of decision for the Republican Party and the conservative movement. They can either build a bridge and step into the 'promised land' of the Hispanic-American electorate, or the Republican/conservative movement will lie stranded in the 'Jordan' of political ambiguity ... . They cannot occupy the White House without Hispanic support – period. And they cannot gain Hispanic support without passing comprehensive immigration reform."