Presidential candidates risk losing important Hispanic votes as they debate immigration reform, especially as issues arise focusing on the mass deportation of illegal immigrants.
What are the Hispanic reactions to the approaches being taken by presidential candidates on immigration issues?
“Positive comments are welcome by the Hispanic community,” said the President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez to The Christian Post this week.
“We have to welcome and say thank you to positive comments and reprove comments coming from other candidates such as Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney. Even Rick Perry, who initially made positive comments, received endorsement from Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is a xenophobic person.”
Last week, Newt Gingrich appealed for a “humane” approach to U.S. immigration when debating the issue. He also talked to prominent Hispanics leaders from all 50 states in an attempt to connect with the Hispanic community.
"If you've been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grand kids, been paying taxes and obeying the law,and belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out," Gingrich said.
Despite the positive comments of the “humane” approach on the issue, Gingrich has recently endorsed a South Carolina law that allows police to demand a person’s immigrant status.
According to Rodriguez, Latinos still don’t understand the consequences of those anti-immigrant laws, which he calls “anti-Latino” laws.
“Those laws are not only anti-immigrants, but anti-Latino laws. The laws were contextualized to limit the amount of Latinos in the communities.”
From a Christian perspective, the Hispanic leader believes that there is a meaning for this situation. “Where there is persecution the church grows. God is right and He will be glorified,” he said remembering that a large portion of Hispanics in U.S. are Christian.
Rodriguez warns political leaders that are talking tough on immigration: “We are deporting the future of Christianity in this country.”
“We have to be careful because we are deporting brothers and sisters in faith and possibly the people who will rescue Christianity in the United States.”
Hispanic Christian churches are also involved in the issue, and they are supporting its members through preaching and prayers and providing care for families tied up in the issue.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez exhorted the political leaders to “stop manipulating the issues about immigration reform for political greed, in a careless way in order to promote fear.”
He is certain that in the end the solution for the illegal immigrants will be a “Christian solution” and he proposed practical ways to solve the problem.
“We have to seek a practical solution such as granting work visa. Let them [Latinos] be self-sufficient and not dependent on the government. Let them apply to residence in a regular process, let us not disrespect children nor the elderly, through a political platform.”