Hispanic Christian Leaders Encourage Young Latinos to Vote

Hispanic evangelical leaders are encouraging young Latinos to vote in the U.S. presidential election in November in a call for “comprehensive and fair” immigration reform.

"All of us Latino evangelical leaders are lobbying for comprehensive immigration reform that provides undocumented immigrants with a path toward citizenship," Gabriel Salguero, the president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition told EFE today.

Salguero emphasized that Latinos want immigration reform and are “in favor of a law that seeks the common well-being of immigrants and the poor.” According to him, the country’s roughly 11 million Latino evangelicals share this feeling and believe that it is based on the “Bible and on moral just laws.”

The initiative comes together with a campaign that is being conducted by churches in states such as Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Pennsylvania to mobilize the Hispanic’s vote.

“[The Latino evangelical church] is not going to stop until reform comes,” expressed Salguero in a telephone conference with colleague Melanie Santiago and DREAM Act advocate, Lucas DaSilva, on Tuesday.

The DREAM Act would allow undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to the country before they were 16, and have been living in the U.S. continuously for five years, to be eligible for conditional non-immigrant status.

Salguero pointed that controversial state immigration laws such as Alabama’s HB 56 and Arizona’s SB 1070 represent a great threat to families and are dividing them. Those laws criminalize the presence of undocumented immigrants.

“They are not just or moral laws, they make no sense and they don’t benefit either the nation or families,” he said.

Hispanic voters have played a key role in past elections and are now being seen as key to the 2012 election. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanic voters comprised a record 7 percent of ballots cast in the 2010 congressional elections.

A survey conducted by Latino Decisions showed that Latinos are less likely to back a candidate who did not favor a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the United States.

The poll found that 53 percent of Hispanic voters identified with Democrats, while 15 percent identified with Republicans.

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