Latino evangelicals seek just immigration law

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Latino evangelicals are becoming more politically active in hopes of persuading Congress to support an immigration reform package that weighs border security with a compassionate approach toward undocumented immigrants.

The political activism among Latino evangelicals, however, has created a rift with other evangelicals that could unravel political alliances on critical conservative issues such as abortion.

It also could dilute the voting power of a key segment of the Republican Party.

Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the evangelical movement. Latino evangelicals also are more likely to be Republican as Latino Catholics, who make up the majority of Hispanics. As their numbers grow, Latino evangelicals have the potential to offset the traditionally Democratic Hispanic vote.

The last election showed that Latino evangelicals are turned off by the hard-line stance on immigration taken by some conservative Republicans. As a result, any advantage Republicans stand to gain because of a surge in Latino evangelicals could be lost, making it harder for evangelicals to get support for conservative issues such as abortion, traditional marriage and school prayer.

Latino evangelicals are upset that other evangelicals either oppose any sort of legalization for undocumented immigrants or remain silent on the issue.

"Only a minority of White Evangelicals have spoken out on the issue. Most have avoided it, and we hear their silence," said the Rev. Luis Cortes, president of Esperanza USA in Philadelphia, one of the largest Hispanic evangelical groups in the country, with a network of 10,000 churches and groups.

"We are in a battle, so we need our brothers and sisters to stand with us. If they aren't going to stand with us, then how can they ask us to stand with them?"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsImmigration* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

Posted June 10, 2007 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. libraryjim wrote:

A just policy:
How about: enforce the law to build the fence
enforce the laws already on the book
streamline the process for those who have already applied for either citizenship or a green card
give local law enforcement officials the power to hold illegals who commit crimes for INS to deport immediately—actually, I think they already have the power to do this, they are just not supported in using that power.

sounds just to me.

June 10, 10:07 am | [comment link]
2. Deja Vu wrote:

Latino evangelicals have been waging an organized campaign to sway other evangelicals to view immigration from a moral perspective, rooted in the Bible….Latino evangelicals tend to view illegal immigration as a personal issue that affects relatives, friends and fellow parishioners, Hernandez said. To them, immigrants who broke the nation’s laws by being here unlawfully still deserve to be treated justly according to the Bible.

Is it morally unjust according to the Bible to enforce national borders? I would think that “render unto Caeser” means comply with the laws of the nations.
It seems like they are saying, “We demand you behave justly towards us by overlooking the fact that we continue to behave unjustly towards you.”

June 10, 3:09 pm | [comment link]
3. azusa wrote:

‘undocumented immigrants’ - a dishonest term. ‘illegal immigrant’ is what is meant.

June 10, 6:51 pm | [comment link]
4. Cennydd wrote:

Want to come to this country and claim the rights of American citizens?  Do it LEGALLY, like my great grandparents did!

June 10, 7:07 pm | [comment link]
5. Tegularius wrote:

Cennydd, unless you are very young, your great grandparents did it at a time where there were few or no laws restricting immigration to the US.  Your ancestors (and mine) climbed up a ladder that has since been pulled up by the folks already at the top; in the absence of the ladder it’s a bit disingenuous to say “you have to climb up the same way we did”.

Effectively, while our ancestors climbed a ladder, we now choose to drop a relatively small number of ropes and if you don’t get a rope, you’re out of luck.  Not the same thing at all.

June 10, 7:50 pm | [comment link]
6. libraryjim wrote:

OUr ancestors also came to a land where there were huge tracts of land waiting to be settled, where the industrial revolution was opening up massive amounts of jobs, where the Westward expansion was giving opportunities for farmers to own land, where the transcontinental railroad construction needed workers (mostly Irish and Chinese, since they took the jobs most Americans didn’t want to do), and the Civil War required soldiers.
The U.S. is certainly not in a position to have open borders at this time.  Unless one wants a system where all illegal aliens can gain citizenship by serving a tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, the way mine did in the Union Army against the Confederate Army.

June 10, 9:33 pm | [comment link]
7. bob carlton wrote:

I am so moved by this portion of the Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration From the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States:

Since the founding, the United States has received immigrants from around the world who have found opportunity and safe haven in a new land. The labor, values, and beliefs of immigrants from throughout the world have transformed the United States from a loose group of colonies into one of the leading democracies in the world today. From its founding to the present, the United States remains a nation of immigrants grounded in the firm belief that newcomers offer new energy, hope and cultural diversity.

Our common faith in Jesus Christ moves us to search for ways that favor a spirit of solidarity. It is a faith that transcends borders and bids us to overcome all forms of discrimination and violence so that we may build relationships that are just and loving.

June 10, 9:48 pm | [comment link]
8. Loren+ wrote:

In most sports, the best defense is a good offense.  The nature of immigration requires that we as a country, and quite possibly as a church, have an offensive strategy that reduces the pressure on those considering emigrating to the US.  If we as a country looked after our neighbors a bit more compassionately, we would see the number of immigrants decrease.  But this is rarely mentioned in the debates—we talk only of defense and keeping them out.  That kind of policy does not reflect the generosity and grace of the Gospel, which itself leads to kingdom justice.

June 10, 10:50 pm | [comment link]
9. Tegularius wrote:

How is the economic argument “The U.S. is certainly not in a position to have open borders at this time” consistent with the worship of a man who said to follow him by selling everything and giving the proceeds to the poor?

God has blessed me by letting me be born in the richest nation on earth. I cannot see how I would be doing God’s will by excluding other folks at the border, or by being unwilling to share those benefits, even if it would decrease my own share of the wealth.

June 11, 8:09 am | [comment link]
10. libraryjim wrote:

The argument is a sound one because there are limits on what a secular government can fund.  If the church would quit whining and get on with the business of helping the poor then we might not have to worry about the flood gates of 20 million more poverty stricken people coming in to request aid from the Government.  The US is a few TRILLION dollars in debt as it is, every man woman and child owes the equivelant of 30,000 in debt as citizens.  Face it, the amount of money a government can spend is finite, even if they raised taxes to 90%.
Remember, the Government exists for specific reasons separate from the mission of the Church.  Caring for the poor is the Church’s calling—and she is doing a very poor job of it and has shifted that duty to the government.

You are correct, however—talk of ‘if we did more to help our neighboring countries’ brings spectres of American Imperialism which is why it is NOT brought up.  Think: if we were able to educate 20 million illegal immigrants to return to their own countries and work for establishing a democratic or republic form of government back there, the problem would be well on the way to being solved.

June 11, 9:52 am | [comment link]
11. libraryjim wrote:

to elaborate on my point about the mission of the Church—helping the poor is NOT limited to this country’s poor.  As the richest nation on earth (as Tegularius points out) we are in an unique position to fund mission and relief efforts around the world.  I would suggest we start in countries closest to us, such as Mexico, that would go a looong way to resolve the illegal immigration problem.
I just got an e-mail from CCM artist Karen Lafferty (“Seek Ye First”) She’s been working with a group called Musicians for Missions, and has a very committed minisitry to just this type of work (they’ve coined a term called “musicianry”—cute, huh?).  Let’s not complain that the government needs to do more, the CHURCH needs to adopt these types of programs.

June 11, 10:14 am | [comment link]
12. Reactionary wrote:

Why does Mexico merit mission and relief efforts?  Some of the wealthiest men in the world are Mexican.  The answer is that Mexicans are impoverished because they live in a corrupt society that does not idealize the rule of law.  Government is a spoils system for friends and family.  Bribery is just a cost of doing business.  That is the culture from which we are importing people.  If the Church wants to reduce global poverty, it should preach free markets and the rule of law.

Also, I continue to be struck by the uncritical thinking demonstrated by pro-immigration advocates.  Polls show 40% of Mexicans would relocate to the US if they could.  Should they all be allowed to?  Whose city should get this additional load on their public services and infrastructure?

From a theological perspective, the government’s erection of a multicultural society over the objections of clear majorities of its citizens strikes me as nothing less than an attempt to rebuild the tower of Babel.

June 11, 11:46 am | [comment link]
13. libraryjim wrote:

Actually, if you visit the website, you will find that they are working around the globe.

June 11, 1:44 pm | [comment link]
14. libraryjim wrote:

Anyway, how, as Christians, can we justify DISOBEYING national law just because we say “oh these people deserve a break”?

Romans 13: 1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

I Peter 2: 13Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Both passages from the English Standard Version

June 11, 5:44 pm | [comment link]
15. Tegularius wrote:

“Anyway, how, as Christians, can we justify DISOBEYING national law just because we say “oh these people deserve a break”?”

Would you have said the same thing about segregation?

June 11, 5:46 pm | [comment link]
16. libraryjim wrote:

Segregation was an unjust law that put down CITIZENS of the society.  How are immigration laws unjust? I do not see them in the same light at all.

June 11, 5:55 pm | [comment link]
17. Tegularius wrote:

The quotes from Romans and I Peter do not distinguish between just and unjust laws, or between citizens and noncitizens.  There is nothing in those verses that seems to support a distinction between immigration laws and segregation laws.

How is it “just” to say that if two babies are born at the same time, ten miles apart, on opposite sides of the Rio Grande river, that the one born slightly farther north should grow up to have all the advantages of living and working in the US, while the one born slightly farther south should be considered a criminal if he tries to take advantage of those same opportunities?

There are, of course, economic arguments to be made that unlimited immigration would drive down wages and increase poverty in the US.  But that’s an argument from economic self-interest, which is not generally considered a tenet of Christian faith.

June 11, 6:06 pm | [comment link]
18. libraryjim wrote:

But are we talking of a conflict between Christian faith and government, or of Christianity recognizing the RIGHTS of the governemnt to establish rules that govern its own border security and who can enter and when?

I’m sorry, but it is just stupidity to look at the world and say, NO BORDERS, everyone can go anywhere they want to without regard to how much a country can or cannot handle.

If this is such an important issue, then why are not Christians bringing pressure on Mexican officials to reform their system? Or Venuzuela? Or Honduras? Why must all the animus be placed against the United States?  That is also stupidity.

The Miami Herald had an article in today’s paper that stated Central American countries are working on closing their borders because of all the criminals and destitute that are coming there, because they are not finacially able to handle the influx.  Yet they think nothing of sending THEIR criminals and destitute to the U.S.
Here is an excerpt, the full article can be found here:

Efforts to stem undocumented immigrants from neighboring countries are increasing in parts of Latin America because of concerns, similar to those in the United States, that they drive down salaries and bring crime and violence with them.

Ecuador, Chile and Venezuela are discussing whether to restrict undocumented migrants while Costa Rica recently tightened barriers. Peru is studying whether to tighten its southern border with Bolivia.

Driving the changes are concerns echoed in the current U.S. immigration debate: that undocumented workers take jobs from locals, raise the crime rate and drain tax dollars through their use of public school and health systems.

In the same vein, business groups in the region have been opposing new laws that might limit uneducated, low-cost laborers from migrating to countries that need them—just as in the United States.

Governments throughout the region report almost three million immigrants, according to the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. A majority is believed to lack proper documentation.
In Ecuador, a presidential candidate in last year’s campaign made concern about undocumented immigrants there a staple of her campaign, said Gioconda Herrera, a researcher at FLACSO, a Latin American think tank with an office in Ecuador. She added that she couldn’t remember another presidential candidate making it such a major issue.

The concern there is with Colombians who have fled the war in their country and moved to northern Ecuador, to sell knickknacks in the street and work on sugar and banana farms, Herrera said.

‘‘The public wants more control so more undocumented workers don’t enter,’’ Herrera said by telephone from Quito.

Frankly, I think the Church universal needs to focus her efforts on helping the poor who are here legally, and who are barely making it, or who are having trouble with the requirements for citizenship/green card/whatever.  It will never help the cause of Christ to help people BREAK the law.

I’ve mentioned before how my dad in South Florida is having troubles with illegals moving into and taking over neighborhoods there, and all the crime that has moved in with them. And all the while the Catholic Church down there is saying “we have to offer this as a sancturary city”, but never addressing the problems the illegals are causing. Sure it colors my thinking.  If someone wants to come here legally, I’m all for giving them every chance possible.

June 11, 9:22 pm | [comment link]
19. Christopher Hathaway wrote:

How is it “just” to say that if two babies are born at the same time, ten miles apart, on opposite sides of the Rio Grande river, that the one born slightly farther north should grow up to have all the advantages of living and working in the US, while the one born slightly farther south should be considered a criminal if he tries to take advantage of those same opportunities?

You speak like a man who recognizes the legitimacy of no law or national sovereignty. There are legal procedures for gaining the right to take advantage of those opportunities. Immigration “reforms” such as we are being treated to by our idiot and treasonous leaders are a slap in the face to all those legal immigrants who will not be granted the priveleges that illegal immigrants will get under this scheme.

The day these “pro-immigration” groups open up their own homes to whatever bums and squatters that want to come in I will take more seriously their arguments.

June 11, 11:26 pm | [comment link]
20. Tegularius wrote:

If this is such an important issue, then why are not Christians bringing pressure on Mexican officials to reform their system? Or Venuzuela? Or Honduras? Why must all the animus be placed against the United States?  That is also stupidity.

What evidence is there that Christians in those nations are NOT pressuring their governments for reform?  As an American and a citizen in a democracy, I have a particular obligation to encourage my government to do the right thing, hence that is my focus here.

You speak like a man who recognizes the legitimacy of no law or national sovereignty.

No, but I recognize that national borders and immigration restrictions are the work of man and not the work of God, and I am inclined to attend rather more to the latter to provide guidance about justice in the treatment of my neighbors.

The day these “pro-immigration” groups open up their own homes to whatever bums and squatters that want to come in I will take more seriously their arguments.

When I read Matthew 25:31-46, I do not see the Lord providing an option to escape our obligations by classifying the poor as “bums and squatters”.  Maybe I have a different translation.

June 12, 9:16 am | [comment link]
21. libraryjim wrote:

My feeling is that those who see the very real social and economic effects of illegal immigration coming into an area like locusts are the ones speaking out most vocally against it. 

Those who have no exposure to this see the ‘romatic’ view of ‘they are just seeking a better way of life’ and are the most vocal for the open border/amnesty programs.

The second group needs to listen to the first group very carefully.

June 12, 10:07 am | [comment link]
22. Reactionary wrote:

#20 Tegularius,

I am having a hard time getting from Matt. 25:31-46 to:  overruling clear majority opinion on immigration policy; deliberately expanding the labor pool for the benefit of private elites; increasing the load on the nation’s welfare and infrastructure, thereby creating a self-justifying need for more taxes and more government; and compulsory association including an array of civil rights laws for the newcomers to beat their hosts over the head with.

Christian theology on immigration is terribly muddled.  The duty of compassion to sojourners can in no way be construed to support current immigration policy.

June 12, 10:17 am | [comment link]
23. Tegularius wrote:

“Like locusts” is a rather dehumanizing way to refer to those who fall under Jesus’ injunction to love our neighbors as ourselves.  I live in an apartment complex where the majority of the residents are Latin American immigrants (and I suspect most are not here legally, though I do not know their status). One of the town’s primary day labor pickup points is the gas station across the street.  So I think I’m seeing the effects rather than taking a “romantic” view.  (And I must say my neighbors are extraordinarily hard-working folks.)

#22 Reactionary:  All of the arguments against more open immigration in your first paragraph seem to be related to the national economic self-interest.  I think “Christian theology on immigration is terribly muddled” only because we are unwilling to say that the national economic self-interest is not a Christian basis for decision-making.

June 12, 10:28 am | [comment link]
24. Reactionary wrote:


If you accept that national authority is legitimate as ordained by God, then national economic self-interest is a legitimate basis for decision-making.  Incidentally, immigration in biblical times was a purely private affair.  There was no 14th Amendment or Title VII laws to enforce mass immigration, and sojourners were even required to observe certain Jewish religious practices.  There are huge government externalities in current immigration policy, and the effect is to privatize the profits and socialize the expenses.  This is a form of theft.

June 12, 10:37 am | [comment link]
25. libraryjim wrote:

“like locusts” accurately describes what is happening in my dad’s neighborhood.

June 12, 11:30 am | [comment link]
26. libraryjim wrote:

I wonder if there was a group of people in Ancient Rome who said:

“Oh the poor Vandals and Goths—they are just looking for a better way of life than they have in the land of the barbarians. Let’s just open our borders and let them all in.”

June 12, 1:10 pm | [comment link]
27. Tegularius wrote:

I’m still curious how excluding Latin American immigrants is consistent with Jesus’ injunction to “love your neighbor”.  Are they not my neighbors?  Is excluding them from opportunities in this country a form of love?

While I do not live in your father’s neighborhood, I find it hard to equate people working hard to pick fruit or do landscaping for low wages with insects destroying crops. Using dehumanizing rhetoric does not strike me as a way to encourage us to view the situation through the lens of Christ’s teachings.

June 12, 2:06 pm | [comment link]
28. libraryjim wrote:

And romanticizing all illegal immigrants as all being “people working hard to pick fruit or do landscaping for low wages”.  That is just as wrong as what you are accusing me of. Yes, many do behave civilly, but many, many more who come here do not have such honorable motives, and continue to practice lawless behavior.  My comment did not include legal immigrants who have come here legally to “pick fruit or do landscaping” or construction, or whatever.

And for the record, I do not exlude Latin American Immigrants from Jesus’ injunction to love your neighbor.  Those who are here legally should indeed be welcome and have all the opportunities open to them as legal guests/resident aliens of the United States as the law grants them. 

But I am not going to encourage them to become law breakers, either, nor support them when the do so, except urge them to practice true repentance and make right their wrong, i.e., return to their country of origin and follow the laws of the land in coming here legally.  Those who do behave like animals and insects need to be arrested and deported. 

I do not support any whiff of amnesty for anyone who has come here illegally, regardless of their motive.  I can take this stand while practicing Jesus’ command to love them.  Sometimes love must take a tough stand, however.

June 12, 2:29 pm | [comment link]
29. D Hamilton wrote:

Mass self-deportation .... maybe with our assistance (i.e. transportation - bus, airline, boat, etc.) would be possible if we remove the economic windfall companies perceive in the hiring of illegal immigrants. 

Make checking the employment eligibility as easy as an instant background check for a firearm and then make the failure to use such a system costly in treasure and freedom (remove wage business deduction for undocumented workers, fines and prison time for the unheeding).

The solution is humane and too simple for it to ever be considered.  So sad.


June 12, 2:52 pm | [comment link]
30. Reactionary wrote:


You are loading more into the simple command to love your neighbor than it can bear.  I could as well ask whether we are showing love to our native-born tradesmen neighbors by driving down their wages and increasing the load on their infrastructure and public services.  My neighborhood covenants restrict housing to single-family.  Does the command to love my neighbor mean I have to abide multiple families in the house next to mine?  Can I likewise invoke this duty if I want to rent out my basement and top floor to other families?  Your standard actually robs the commandment of any content.

What sort of world do you think you are bequeathing to your children?  This used to be America and it is going to end up as the Balkans.  It is appalling that we have undertaken this unprecedented social engineering with no regard for the consequences.  The only good news is that the very multiculturalism the secular state champions will eventually prove its undoing.

June 12, 3:32 pm | [comment link]
31. Tegularius wrote:

It is appalling that we have undertaken this unprecedented social engineering with no regard for the consequences.

If allowing the free movement of people is “social engineering,” then erecting laws and fences to prevent that movement is the same sort of social engineering but on a more massive scale and at greater expense.

As I have said multiple times above, though, I’m not denying that economic self-interest may be served by restricting immigration.  I am simply suggesting that economic self-interest is not a particularly Christian basis for decision-making.

And if bequeathing a richer country to my children requiring other folks children to be denied economic opportunities, is it Christian to claim I have no obligation to those other children?

June 12, 3:56 pm | [comment link]
32. libraryjim wrote:

Perhaps the Chrisitan response is to equip these folk and their ‘children’ as missionaries to return to their countries to impact their home societies with the Gospel?

June 12, 4:19 pm | [comment link]
33. Reactionary wrote:

If I owe a duty not only to my children but everybody else’s children as well, then I’m a slave of all, and so is everybody else.  That is nonsense, and that is why charity begins at home.

I actually would be entirely in favor of allowing the market to determine the free movement of peoples, but you need to remove government externalities from the equation so nobody is being coerced to pay the costs of immigration against their will.  That means no welfare and no 14th Amendment, no Title VII, no Fair Housing Act, and for that matter no national borders and central government in D.C. either.  All land would be purely private, and immigrants would have to buy rights of passage or be evicted as trespassers.

June 12, 4:21 pm | [comment link]
34. Christopher Hathaway wrote:

Tegularius, you mask socialistic thievery with pseudo-Christian mnorality. Give your own money and housing to those you feel need it. Do not presume to take from others to give away as an act of charity. That is not charity. that is theft and arrogance. The people in this country are taxed to support many poor who are citizens here. We shuld not add to their tax burden by drawing in even more who will be drains upon the public purse.

This nation is not the church, and you have no Christian right to force others to be charitable to your model.

I wnoder how many poor live with you in your house. Given the crowding that many endure in poor sections of the world I am sure that whereever you live you can cram in a few more without straining their comfort level. Or do you only want others to be charitable for you.

June 12, 7:47 pm | [comment link]
35. Tegularius wrote:

Mr. Hathaway is entirely correct that my claims are based on priorities other than property rights and economic self-interest.  There is a strong case to be made that a nation should make decisions based on economic self-interest when addressing issues such as immigration.  It is not a particularly Christian case, but I understand that there is great value to maintaining a separation between Church and State.  It is good to see a spirited defense of the idea that our nation should be governed by secular principles.

June 12, 9:06 pm | [comment link]
36. libraryjim wrote:

Sarcasm ill suits you and belittles the point, as well as insults those of us on the list.  OR as they say in Peter Pan: “Bad Form!”

June 13, 2:19 pm | [comment link]
37. libraryjim wrote:

sorry, I meant “TEG” not “TEL”. No offense meant, just poor reading skills. lol

June 14, 3:24 pm | [comment link]
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