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Apr-13-2010 23:08printcomments

Immigration News: Conservatives Back Reform

Changing social, economic and political realities underpin the participation of conservative and evangelical forces in immigration issues.

immigration agriculture signage photo by Bonnie King

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) - A different twist was added to the turbulent immigration reform debate this week. In a conference call with reporters, a network of conservative political activists and evangelical church leaders announced a campaign to push for the legalization of millions of undocumented people in the United States.

“From reading the news, you’d think all conservatives are against the issue, but we know different,” said moderator Juan Hernandez.

A well-known pundit with a political foot on both sides of the border, Hernandez has served as an adviser to prominent political figures in both Mexico and the United States, including former Mexican President Vicente Fox and Arizona Senator John McCain. A dual citizen of the US and Mexico, Hernandez headed up the Office of Mexicans Abroad in Fox’s cabinet.

Joining Hernandez in a call for immigration reform were leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and World Relief, among others. Church leaders cited the Bible and pertinent scriptural passages about migrants as principal reasons Christians should get behind an immigration reform that balances humanitarian action with upholding the rule of law.

“We must not forget that Jesus himself was an immigrant, along with Joseph and Mary,” said Rev. Jim Tolle, senior pastor of Los Angeles’ Church on the Way. According to Tolle, his church serves more than 10,000 Latinos, the majority of them undocumented immigrants.

For Tolle, US society is abandoning millions of people who have contributed to modern consumer lifestyles through their hard work of producing food, clothing and other goods. Giving immigrants a “sociological lift” is a Biblical principle, Tolle maintained.

Noel Castellanos, chief executive officer of the Christian Community Development Association, said a delegation sponsored by his group to the US-Mexico border opened eyes and left participants with a “new perspective.

“We are calling for a bi-partisan approach to fixing our immigration system, for the sake of families and children,” Castellanos said.

The conservative-evangelical alliance is promoting a new immigration policy that focuses on border security, family unity and an earned path to legalization. Several presenters were careful during the phone conference to add they do not advocate a blanket amnesty for undocumented persons.

In 2009, the National Association of Evangelicals passed a resolution on immigration, which is posted on the group’s website at Parallel to but separate from the conservative-evangelical pro-immigrant initiative, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is supporting a major campaign for immigration reform.

Author Jenny Hwang, a staff member of the World Relief service organization, agreed with Hernandez that a political window for immigration reform is rapidly closing and fast action is needed this year. Hwang said pro-immigrant conservative activists are attempting to convince a second Republican senator to get behind the Schumer-Graham reform blueprint and turn it into a bill for Congress. Hwang said activists will specifically target Republican Senators Judd Gregg, Richard Lugar, John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, among others.

While not entirely new, the involvement of conservative Latino and evangelical leaders in the immigration debate puts additional pressure on Congress and the President to take up the issue this year. The movement from the right also offers a counterweight to anti-legalization forces within the Republican Party during a crucial Congressional election year.

Changing social, economic and political realities underpin the participation of conservative and evangelical forces in immigration issues. In recent decades, evangelical faiths have attracted large numbers of followers in Latin America and other parts of the developing world. The churches have also gained an increasing foothold among Latino and Asian communities in the United States.

Politically, the US Latino and Asian electorates will grow only more important in the coming years. Given demographic trends, any political force that ignores this reality, especially the Republican Party, could face a cold future in the electoral ice box.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said more than 25,000 churches had thrown their weight behind a movement for life, family and justice. The religious leader insisted a contradiction exists between professing support for family values and deporting people.

Ultimately, Rodriguez said, President Obama will be the pivotal figure in determining whether immigration reform comes to pass this year, a time when the legislative agenda is packed with a host of testy issues like the nomination for a new Supreme Court justice and financial reform.

But Obama’s Lazarus-like ability to resurrect and win health insurance legislation, whether for good or for bad, showed the President possesses the gumption get things done, Rodriguez observed. “(Obama) has the moral responsibility as President to push immigration reform in 2010,” he contended.

-Kent Paterson

Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Vic April 23, 2010 7:48 am (Pacific time) always parrot that "everyone wants to come here" BS....Americans are 5% of the world's population..are you saying that the other 95% are trying to get in, but just have not been successful yet? The Amazing American Ego...huge and overinflated beyond belief. "Everyone" wants to come here,"Everyone" wants to be like us,"Everyone" wants our so-called Democracy,"Everyone" only hates us for our "freedoms" yada yada yada...Arent we special! Huge unwarranted "American" egos require an arsenal of lies and self-delusion to exist...and an obsessive denial of reality.

Bill Griffith April 19, 2010 9:13 am (Pacific time)

Everyone has a problem with America but everyone wants to send their folks here instead of fixing their country. I am tired of the massive flow of “labor workers” into our nation because the point of origin hasn’t done a damn thing to fix their economy. Seriously, why must we provide jobs to the world while still remaining the enemy to other nations ? We're broke, and the social costs for illegals far outstrips any tax contribution, so our citizens are suffering more and more as time goes by while the DC oligarchs twiddle their thumbs.

Anonymous April 16, 2010 10:05 am (Pacific time)

yeah lets make those criminals pay the fine for beeing ilegal and fix their immigration status not beeing ilegal anymore. thats how law works , isn't it ?

Vic April 15, 2010 11:33 am (Pacific time)

I look forward to the day when the warfare/weapons/military based economy of the US CRUMBLES and arrogant white "we are here, now close the borders" types like "Britannicus" and DB are forced to fight for survival like the majority of the world's population does. DB, are you a Native American? How about you, Britannicus? Maybe a good cup of STFU is due? The good news for you racists out there is that fewer Mexicans than ever are immigrating to your land of freedom. I tell everyone here (Nayarit Mexico)that it aint worth the bus fare. They will encounter hateful self righteous bigots, constant discrimination and harassment by the police, not to mention exploitation by "labor bosses".. Losers need someone to hate, I realize that. But of course, "it isnt hate"...just ask them. They will break the windows out of an "illegal"s car , but not do a thing about Westinghouse, GE, and all the other American companies that have moved across the border and taken the good jobs away..not the lawnmowing jobs or moving irrigtion pipe jobs..the good jobs that used to provide a good wage for Americans. But Hey...lets pick on the weaker ones..the people just trying to survive...thats the American Way. Idiots !

douglas benson April 15, 2010 7:40 am (Pacific time)

Hank first I would suggest that illegal entry into this country be a felony crime ,no let them go untill a hearing instant deportation . Second all those recieving social services must go through e-verify including schooling and if they dont speak english thier parents as well basically making using services fraud if you are not legal. Third enforce identity theft laws ,if you or I give ID to law enforcement,social services ,ect and they think its bogus do you think they wouldnt arrest us ? My nieghbor works for the dept.of justice child support div. and illegals come in all the time with Id that is not thiers but there is nothing they can do ,they insist its all good I just bought this soc sec. card yesterday ,why cant these people be arrested for ID theft ? Next the employers ,too bad we cant make ex-post facto laws but making it a felony crime to hire illegals and once again E-verify along with ICE enforcemnet when they show up to work or to collect thier paycheck . The banks are next loans ,credit ,bank accounts ect require ID ,verify all account holders ID . Just like the DMV lines have gone down and illegals have no more drivers lic. not overnight but slowly but surely they are chipping away the same should be done in all levels of goverment . Allmost forgot renters e-verify them all they do credit checks ect. why not verify thier identity ? We need to do something and I for one dont want these ID thieves to get a free pass . I dont know how many people I have talked to that have been victims of these criminals ,from buying houses and defaulting ,to letters from the IRS saying you owe us money because there are twenty illegals using your soc. sec. #. Let them resist all they want they have no rights to demand a darn thing and when they do start checking ID . I have seen our union work these criminals took thier money and when its time for them to retire they get nothing that kind of garbage is wrong as well . As far as cost they cost us allready just think of all the money we will save when they go home. No long drawn out hearings its simple illegal immigrant youre out of here . Tell you what if any of them havent commited ID theft let them stay bet you wont find many.

Hank Ruark April 14, 2010 2:59 pm (Pacific time)

Friend D.B.: Some would dare say you are suffering from Denialism in your view of dilemma re our border disease... See Op Eds current on that point, and consider realities of what we CAN possibly DO and what we surely CANNOT and should not do... Then be sure to describe in detail with all practical cost and consequence what YOU NOW propose, once you recognize the realities involved.

Brittanicus April 14, 2010 2:48 pm (Pacific time)

The real truth is that there are over 20 million plus illegal aliens in this nation. They have all spat on our sovereign laws, our flag, and our constitution to break into America. Then demonstrate in our streets, branding foreign flags and demand their Civil rights. The intention was there, no matter the cause to enter America without means of financial support. The cesspool of businesses that employed foreigners, rather than a US citizen-resident cannot be forgiven and there should be a composite of heavy fines, business asset confiscation and imprisonment? There should be no conciliation for gainfully profiting on the backs of their own people? An estimated eight million foreign nationals have jobs, while the number of Americans seeking work is over 15 million and still accelerating. Another grand travesty is that the US State Department issues approximately 1.5 million work visas annually. I agree as the majority of Americans that we can always make room for highly intelligent, skilled workers that can be elusive commodity in our country. But what we--DON'T-- need are mediocre immigrant job seekers from other lands that our own workforce must teach job skills, before those employees receive a pink slip. Immigration attorneys have been proven time and time again on fudging a person’s qualifications, to import into this country, large contingents of low skilled legal immigrants from countries with impoverished wages. The biggest issue here businesses cut jobs, and the low skilled are the first to go. That means the taxpayer becomes the payee of hundreds of thousands of people, who ultimately end up in the government entitlement programs. The E-Verify program with successful modifications could be used to disclose illegal immigrants, defrauding the welfare benefits system. ICE should recycle audits and even make lightening raids on previously visited companies. E-Verify must be instigated permanently and not a voluntary illegal alien reducer in auto licenses, vehicle registration, health care and other pertinent identification processes. Whereas the highly, technically skilled soon find a new employer. THE MAJOR PROBLEM IS, WE CAN DO WITHOUT THE LANDSCAPERS, JANITORS, AND CONSTRUCTION LABOR, AS WE HAVE MILLIONS OF US CITIZENS-RESIDENTS WHO CAN DO THESE MANUAL JOBS? The real $ cost of the illegal alien invasion has remained intentionally undisclosed by our Senators and Congressman. Few states admit the expenditures, especially California? Arizona legislators have seen the financially errors caused by blanket immigration to that state. Finally it will be signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer, the most restrictive measures to give law enforcement the ability to question any individual they deem as suspicious of illegal entry. Condemnation is already appearing from the National media generated by the open border advocacy organizations.ONE THINGS FOR SURE, THAT IF THE PEOPLE OF ARIZONA DIDN'T WANT THIS LAW PASSED? IT WOULD NEVER EVEN HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED? Illegal immigration has become a nationwide battleground and the economic aspect it, would pay for all our foreign wars? Arizona illegal immigrants who realize their time is up, will now flood California as there is no enforcement there. Everything goes? Including citizens-residents welfare befits for illegal aliens.That why the Sanctuary State has massive deficits? Years of complete and utter irrelevance has allowed this illegal occupation to happen. To even consider another mass amnesty is beyond outrageous, beyond anything comprehensible. Our Lawmakers, who are subservient to the moneyed open border lobbyists or the radical ethnocentric organizations, WILL BE REMEMBERED IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS. Sen. Harry Reid, Pelosi, McCain, Schumer, Graham the Pro-Amnesty incumbent will be removed. Unless the high population of illegal aliens in Nevada vote for him? Yes! They will vote. A growing list of pro-amnesty, anti-sovereignty politicians is visible at NumbersUSA. TO RECAP ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS ONLY SEEN TO WORK? IN FACT IT HAS NEVER BEEN ENFORCED. WE HAVE BEEN CHEATED FOR DECADES? Can be distributed freely. Never any copyright.

Hank Ruark April 14, 2010 2:35 pm (Pacific time)

Friend D.B.: You are correct on many points, sir. Nevertheless if we act wisely NOW it will be to filter border points in a pragmatic fashion, as we shuld hve done long ago, as the best we can do NOW. You willing to fund perhaps half-million new troops ?? My point is that forced removal with worldwide eyes watching will not only be impractical for most already here but also near-impossible for large numbers, at huge costs, and with tremendous damage to U.S. image worldwide. We do NOT reward those here, but simply acknowledge painful reality. THEN proceed to make sure cheap-labor impact made better by oversight, supervision, regulation...only tools we now can use. Major motivation for many is to flee intolerable conditions in Mexico which we have historically helped to create. We cannot control but can remedy via corporate action forced on companies there via pressures here. Most massively manipulating corporations there are U.S.-based, can be painfully pressured, should become part of remedy rather than major cause for flight over border. Appreciate your insights but need tight focus on pragmatic remedies. We cannot force evacuation of TWELVE MILLION without worldwide heavy/costs. We cannot force Mexican action but can manipulate meaningful measures as beginning remedy for longtime neglect of border for which we cannot dodge very simple fact of failure on our part, mostly for practical reasons and huge costs, but still failure. What do you propose? Box-cars jammed with deported workers, families, kids, possessions, damaging economy now desperate enough to have used them ? Miles-long Mexican driven cars crowded, leaving with militia-guns aimed ? OR do we just line 'em up, and make them walk their way back across border ? Happy to hear any sensible proposal, sensitive or not !! Meanwhile,how do you stand on criminal penalties for any employer allowing worker-wages here,knowing them "illegal"?? How about starting with fine of ten-times weekly, for each such worker, doubled each week until they're gone ? You ready to sell that one ? If not, what do YOU recommend we do, when, how, and what will it take in force and in dollars ???

douglas benson April 14, 2010 5:56 am (Pacific time)

So now we are going to reward these criminals for thier crimes ? First they come here illegally ,steal identities [allmost all of them are guilty of identity theft], work for slave wages at what were good paying jobs untill they flooded the market with cheap labor , ruined our education system with one day english one day spanish because they refuse to learn or use english [why should they when we provide habla espaniol ] 
Here come the racist comments ,and I am not .They broke the law ,most broke several to live and work here at our expense in many ways ,drugs, crime, gangs ,social services ,low wages ect and now these morons want to give them a pass . 
 We need to enforce identity theft laws ,make it a felony crime to hire illegals ,rent to them give credit and home loans as these people are guilty of breaking RICO laws .
I bet the Republican sleazeballs are backing this because the new ID laws are taking a lot of these slave wage workers off the table for them ,they wouldnt back this stuff out of the kindness of thier heart [get real] Any time a "christian business man " wants to help look out for the knife in the back . 
Anyone who crys about splitting up families ect gets no sympathy from me when you break the law your family suffers [been there]  ,you dont see anyone crying for the rest of the criminals in this country. 

Hank Ruark April 14, 2010 11:54 am (Pacific time)

Finally, key groups are now beginning to understand and deny the "denialism" which has for too long prompted too-easy declarations banning the very pragmatic consolidation of the already-arrived into a society where they have already made a place for themselves, won both recognition and some beginning acceptance, and in general began precisely the same solid sequence of millions preceding them to this land of final refuge. It remains for Congress to follow similar refusal-pattern for the mindless denialism too long in place re removal of some 12 million residents already well-placed to resist and demand legal protections. Many will see in this action by these groups still further proof that the wit, wisdom and will of the American people can and will offer sensitive, sensible solution for similar situations, when free to to so and encouraged by those who should lead rather than find themselves following-later.

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