Major U.S. politicians from both sides of the aisle took part in the 2018 National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast & Conference, which took place over three days in Washington, D.C., and culminated on Thursday.
All main speakers, including Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., praised the Hispanic clergy for the important role they play in American communities.
At the same time, it was clear that they remain sharply divided on topics such as immigration, especially in light of stories where families are being split apart under the White House administration's deportation efforts.
Still, they made a plea to find unity in God.
Here are five things to know about the conference.
1. Conference Represented 13,000 Hispanic Congregations
As Pence pointed out, Esperanza is one of the largest alliances of Hispanic clergy, representing more than 13,000 congregations, as well as over 500 community groups across all U.S. states.
Moreover, it reaches out to 30 countries around the world, providing training and skills, ministering the Gospel to people and providing opportunities.
The organization says on its website that the biblical mandate it follows is reflected in Matthew 25:40, namely to serve the "least of these."
"We desire to show God's love by providing humble, compassionate, sacrificial service," Esperanza states.
"We believe in the transformative power of Jesus Christ that effects change and provides uplifting hope to the 'least of these,' the underserved and marginalized in our community."
2. Mike Pence Admits Disagreements on Immigration
Pence delivered the keynote address, and thanked the Christian leaders for spreading the message of Jesus Christ around the world.
At the same time, he said that while the Trump administration and Esperanza agree on a number of issues, he admitted that there is disagreement on other issues.
"The truth is, illegal immigration hurts communities on both sides of our border, too often financing dangerous cartels and drug dealers that profit from human suffering," Pence said.
"And as the President has also said, a nation without borders is no nation at all. And just as Esperanza pointed out that, in your words, 'every sovereign nation has the right and responsibility to secure its border,' our President is committed to keep his word to the American people to build a wall on our southern border," he added.
He blamed Democrats for abandoning work for a deal on DACA, also known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and vowed that he and President Donald Trump will "remain ready to move forward whenever the Democrats decide to end the obstruction and stop using the DACA issue as a part of a political process."
"I can promise you that President Trump and I both know that no podium we ever stand behind will be as important as the pulpits that you stand behind every Sunday," he later told the pastors.
"No policy we ever advance will be as important as the message that you faithfully carry — a message of hope that's changing lives."
3. Nancy Pelosi Condemns 'Barbaric' Separations
Pelosi also praised the Christian clergy for their work, and said that she stands by them in raising concern for the way U.S. government officials have been carrying out deportations.
"From the senseless end to DACA and the elimination of Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of law-abiding immigrants, to the barbaric and unacceptable policy of ripping children from their parents at the border. Barbaric – it's not American, it's not faith-based," Pelosi declared.
The Democratic leader said that a "deportation dragnet" is "being thrown over our cities, splitting apart families. We must have a call to action. People of faith must weigh in."
She argued that historically, U.S. presidents have respected the value of immigration, but accused Trump's administration of failing to do so.
"This is the first time in recent history where we have had a president who does not respect the dignity and worth of every person coming into our country, the recognition that immigration is the constant reinvigoration of America," she said.
"When newcomers come to America, their hopes and dreams and aspirations and optimism and courage to make the future better for their children — those are American dreams. Those immigrants — they make America more American and we must respect that."
4. Paul Ryan Admits System 'Broken'
Ryan stroke somewhat of a balance, admitting that America's immigration system is "broken" and leads to deep difficulties for many families.
"In the House, we have brought together lawmakers from across the spectrum, moderates and conservatives, to find a path forward. As a result, we will have a debate and votes on the House floor next week," Ryan said.
"My goal has always been a lasting solution, to address our security challenges, and to address the DACA program so we don't have another problem five, 10 years down the line. Next week's votes are an important step, and I want to thank you for your leadership. Your voice plays a critical role in this discussion," he added.
The House speaker reflected that when people face times of darkness, it is God that gives peace.
"He gives us a sense of wonder. He gives us the capacity to love unconditionally," Ryan noted.
"Whether we are Republican or Democrat or independent, it does not matter. We should all want our faith-based organizations to have the maximum freedom to carry out their missions ... whether it is changing lives ravaged by opioids, empowering people to find a steady job, or building charter schools so more children can get a decent education," he urged.
5. Chuck Schumer Talks Mary, Joseph and Jesus plight
Schumer said that the biblical story of Joseph and Mary escaping to Egypt with a young Jesus, fleeing for their lives, should remind all Christians of the importance of protecting immigrants.
"We are nothing if we are not a nation of immigrants. This is one of the deepest and most abiding facts in this great United States of America," he said, following his point on the holy family.
"We live in a time when we have to remind ourselves who we are, what we are, over and over again," he declared.
"So let us remember that immigrant families form the bedrock of so many American communities; that immigrants and their children and their grandchildren work every single day in our businesses; study in our schools; serve in our military; fill our houses of worship."
The Democratic senator vowed to fight "so long as God breathes air in my limbs" for immigrants to find a safe haven in America.