'McFarland USA' Is the Prophetic Voice the Immigration Reform Debate Needs

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Seated behind an elderly Mexican American couple, my wife and I stood moved and motivated as we watched Kevin Costner's latest movie, "McFarland U.S.A." The story of immigrant young men, who worked in the fields picking fruits and vegetables in addition to attending High School and running in cross country competitions, re-ignited our commitment to immigration reform.

With discretion so as to not reveal the ending of this true story, the film confirmed for me a simple truth: that in spite of recent actions and inaction by our elected officials, the issues surrounding our nation's immigration policies will not go away. Immigration reform is, at the risk of sounding overly optimistic, inevitable. A powerful and transformative assurance of this inevitability exists, what I call the "prophetic imperative."

This biblically based impetus has solidified in the hearts of the emerging Christ-following generation as the following truths: that silence is not an option, truth must never be sacrificed on the altar of expediency and today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity.

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In other words, how can we be so certain that immigration reform will take place? Simply stated, as long as God's word lives, Matthew 25 stands preached, and God's Spirit moves convicting us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before him. Immigration reform will take place because the Bible-believing evangelical community understands that the future of American Christianity lies in how to serve the fastest growing segment of our churches: the immigrant community.

How can I come to such conclusions on the heels of an attempt by Congress to defund the President's executive action expanding deferment to approximately 5 million additional undocumented, hard working individuals created in God's image? Simply stated, from a practical standpoint, immigration reform will inevitably take place because — by all accounts, including acquiescence by the most animated opponents of reform — mass deportation will not and can never happen.

Furthermore, America's political landscape assures us that immigration reform will take place because without it, Republicans will never acquire the necessary 32 to 35 percent of the Latino vote necessary to retake Pennsylvania Avenue. In essence, the party of Lincoln and Reagan must cross the Jordan of immigration reform in order to enter the promise land of America's Hispanic American electorate.

At the end of the day the immigrant community, so beautifully depicted in "McFarland U.S.A.," reveal to us all the certainty that these hard-working, God loving, family-embracing individuals stand poised to enrich the collective American experience.

As the film came to an end, my wife nudged me and pointed to an elderly Mexican American man in front of us who was quietly weeping while on the screen the immigrant teens sang the national anthem. For his sake, and for Americans, I still believe that one day the challenges our current immigration policies pose will be reformed, and the following biblical truth will be affirmed: what we sow in tears we will reap with joy.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Hispanic Evangelical Association. Robert Gittelson is co-founder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and NHCLC Sr. Advisor on Immigration.

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