Where are the Emerging Mexican- American evangelical leaders?
There are two Latin cultural groups that really do not have to worry about the immigration issue as much as the other Latin groups: Puerto Ricans and Cubans. Cubans receive a unique amnesty privilege along with one year of government entitlements via the Cuban Adjustment Act. And, under the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans are automatically U.S. citizens.
One of the strongest immigration advocates in our nation today is not a man of the cloth or the evangelical leader of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC); (D-IL) Congressman Luis Gutierrez who recently finished a 25 city tour promoting sensible immigration ideas. Gutierrez is of Puerto-Rican descent and well-liked by most Latinos across the nation because he has fought his own party in holding them accountable towards legal immigration reform. So why isn’t the conservative Reverend Samuel Rodriguez holding Senator Marco Rubio accountable for his anti-immigrant views? In fact, Rodriguez is the leader of the NHCLC.
Like Gutierrez, Rodriguez is also of Puerto-Rican descent; however, I find it odd that there are little national Mexican-American clergy leaders to be found when those of Mexican descent account for almost 70% of the Hispanic population pie. I am glad to see leading evangelical Hispanic leadership, though I believe leadership also needs to come from the community that is being hurt and affected the most regarding immigration.
There is a strong need for Mexican-American emerging voices.
In the old days, members of the clergy were the ones who committed themselves into being the sacrificial lambs in the fight for social justice, as was the case with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was jailed numerous times. These days things have reversed as we are witnessing politicians and US representatives getting jailed for social justice.
I have to wonder why Rev. Rodriguez has not issued a statement with regard to President Obama’s small step in the right direction – specifically with regard to the small amount of deportation relief of 300,000 who are currently in deportation proceedings. I’m sure the family members of at least 300,000 are appreciative for the relief, specifically as it relates to the non-criminal element of the undocumented.
The goal right now is to be hawkish and look for politicians who are brave enough to support pro-immigration related issues when the public has been misinformed by the likes of Senator Rubio. We should be quick to reward any and all politicians who make small steps toward immigration reform. Latinos for legal immigration should send a clear and consistent signal to politicians that we will provide political covering to those who support DREAM or comprehensive legal immigration.
We were appreciative to learn that on June 28, 2001, Samuel Rodriguez wrote a letter in support of the DREAM Act. However, on August 4th, 2011, Rev. Rodriguez suggested to the Christian Post that Rubio ought to run as 2012 Vice President. We are unsure whether or not Sam knows about Rubio’s anti-immigrant history, but we hope to clarify to him that Rubio embraced Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law (SB 1070), opposes the DREAM Act, and supports Rep. Lamar Smith’s enforcement only policies. It was my view that members of the clergy were to be no ‘respecter of persons’ which is why we are disappointed in Reverend Rodriguez. We believe that promoting Rubio parallels the Trojan Horse trick.
While we cannot really say undocumented immigrants are slaves or legally forced into labor here in the United States, the immigration issue is still an important economic one. Not enough has been said that immigrants have helped to contribute to the American economy. Legal immigration will dump millions in tax revenues and increase the American standard of living.
I am not religious nor am I anything like Moses, but it seems to me that evangelical leadership should come from those who are affected the most. I believe leaders of Mexican descent and/or other Latin groups who do not benefit from unique amnesty or automatic citizenship need to rise up because they are the ones who are most affected and we need their compassionate understanding.
Why did the YHWH, the God of Israel use Moses? According to Jewish scripture, Moses was raised by Egyptians, yet he still had compassion for his people. His compassion was so great that he could not bear to see them beaten by Pharaoh’s taskmasters. One day, Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave and he was so outraged that he struck and killed the Egyptian forcing him to flee from Egypt. Perhaps Moses struck the oppressor because he had more compassion for his people.
Reverend Rodriguez should recant his support for Rubio or else hand his mantle to an emerging Mexican-American leader who empathizes with the pain of most Mexicans who are getting deported. We encourage Reverend Rodriguez to carry out his due diligence before promoting anymore anti-immigrant politicians. Holding immigration summits in various parts of the nation mean very little when the leader is promoting oppressive politicians.