Evangelicals a mixed bag on Obama’s immigration move

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Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association, attended the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast in 2013. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association, attended the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast in 2013. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

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WASHINGTON (RNS) Evangelicals are a key voting bloc for the GOP, but on immigration some are taking a pragmatic step away from the party.

  • rob

    a presidential executive order
    instead of waiting for the new congress to take office ..
    and deal with immigration reform correctly

    is not good for the country ..

    it will cause even more bitterness between the two political parties ..

  • rob

    Many would like to see the parties work together on this ..

  • rob

    thank you Miss Banks for always seeing to it that what you post is of the highest quality your hard work in this shows..

  • Larry

    Conservative Christians are torn between:
    Do I follow the appeal of racism and panic or do I act in accordance with my sect and exhibit a little humanity?

  • Neon Genesis

    Your lack of proper punctuation is not good for your brain.

  • Larry

    “I like cooking my family and my pets”

    Commas save lives

  • Tom Downs

    You think so? How many years has this been on Congress’ agenda while the Republicans refused to join in governing? You seriously think a few new faces will somehow change things? America has sent a whole new class of obstructionist to Washington. I can safely predict even less will get done.

  • Fran

    It is so true that “for years this government, under the leadership of both parties, failed miserably as it pertains to immigration.”

    That is why God’s kingdom or heavenly government will soon put an end to all of man’s corrupt, selfish and greedy governments (Daniel. 2:44), and rule in their place.

    That government will be fair and impartial to people of ALL races and cultures on the planet; it will be a righteous, loving and just rule (Isaiah 11:1-9).

    Until that government intervenes in man’s affairs, we will continue to be subjected to man’s disputed handling of immigration, as well as all the other issues we now face.

  • Fran


    More than likely that will be the case… Same ole, same ole stuff!!

  • Jack

    It’s not racist to oppose what some would say is rewarding people for coming here illegally. People who see racism in everything are likely to be racist themselves. It’s called projection.

    I personally am sympathetic to comprehensive immigration reform, but only if I have faith in an administration’s commitment to border integrity, so that we won’t be back at the reform table again in 10 years to deal with a new wave of people who have come illegally.

    A combination of very tough border security and compassionate treatment of those who are already here is the way to go.

    And equally important, this should not be doing by any president’s executive order but by Congress. If Congress refuses to act, there isn’t a heck of a lot any president can do. What Obama has done is to overstep his authority.

  • Larry

    You would have to be completely dishonest or foolish to believe racism does not inform much of the attitudes against immigration reform. Demonizing foreigners, especially Latinos is a major element to such positions.

    Add to that ignorance of how immigration laws/system works. Hence you get a lot of useless silly discussion of enforcement of laws in a general sense. Also really bad analogies with the criminal law system. All topped off with no sign that the person speaking knows a thing about the actual laws or the system they operate under.

    All of what Obama has done has been within his power. Immigration is controlled by the Federal Executive Branch. Congress may write the immigration code but its all the White House after that. There was nothing proposed now which isn’t already provided for within the current laws and system.

    You really don’t know squat about what is the situation with illegal immigration. At least 1/3rd of the illegal population are people who came here legally and overstayed visas or had them revoked. Border measures wouldn’t do squat for them (3-5 million people). The biggest problem in our system now isn’t at the border, its the lack of staffing and resources for the administration and issuance of visas.

    No enforcement measures are going to do squat about the flow of illegal aliens in this country. It is a function of our economy and cyclical in nature. The economic crash of 2009 did more to reduce the illegal alien population as of late than all the efforts of ICE ever did.

    An executive order is not the ideal way to handle the situation, but if Congress was doing its job, such measures would not have appeared necessary. As I said before, Immigration is the president’s department. Its well within his authority to regulate it. He doesn’t need to ask permission from Congress. It is stepping on toes, but not overstepping authority.

    Frankly my take on illegal immigration is that the consequences are far more draconian than the offense. It is counterproductive.

    IMO make illegal entry and overstay subject to a stiff fine and back taxes. These people have to work to survive here. Might as well reward their hard efforts. If you pay you stay, otherwise bye bye. This way the illegal population gets whittled down a manageable enforceable population. Those who could not pay the fine because they aren’t productive enough and criminals who want to avoid being documented.

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  • Adelle Banks found a couple of soi-disant evangelicals in charge of letterhead organizations to endorse Obama’s lawless behavior. Other than telling us whose in your Rolodex, how is this instructive?

  • Larry

    Art, you have to have some knowledge of the laws before you can accuse someone of being lawless. The one thing the immigration reform opponents generally have in common is an almost complete ignorance of the immigration system and laws.

    Other than making an ad hominem attack against Ms. Banks, did you have anything useful to contribute?

  • Tony

    Rob – let me start by saying my response is not over the legality or illegality of Obama’s actions. This can be debated among the Constitutional scholars and those elected. I will argue that to wait for a new Congress would have been disingenuous. This issue has been around for decades. This issue was there during a Republican Executive and Legislative Branch control. Posturing and grandstanding has been the position of both parties under multiple administrations. The issue has been one that has been put off for the “next” for some time now. To argue this point is a failed point. It has not been good for anyone to keep putting it off for the next group. It has not been good for the country that the issue is at its root caused by Americans themselves. This is a supply and demand issue. The supply is here because the demand is here. Americans have a demand for cheap, illegal labor. They hire, thus cheating their fellow Americans. They break the law by hiring. Millions come here because Americans want their chickens plucked, crops picked, lawns cut, etc. Our nation claims to be a rule of law nation that does not want amnesty. We ignore the fact that Americans are clearly breaking the law hiring 10 million+ illegals but insist on THEM getting amnesty for hiring the illegals in the first place. I see very little calls for justice regarding the ones creating the problem to begin with.

    To the point of the article as far as a Christian’s response – we have 10-20 million transient people here in our country. Think of the day of Pentecost in Acts. We have 10-20 million to evangelize. We have many who will in fact return home. We have many potential ‘missionaries’ who can take a message of the Gospel back to the entire Latin American world. There are many nominal Catholics but most are unreached with a true Gospel message. Whether we as a nation round them up or not, while they are here, what do we Christians do with these people? Did Paul not preach to those who committed illegal acts in jail? Did Peter? Did Christ on the cross not speak to an “illegal” next to him? We have an opportunity to reach millions of people who will then reach millions more. God presents the world on our very doorsteps. Regardless of the laws of Caesar, what do we do with what God has given us and commanded us to do in the meantime?

  • Larry

    To all those who think that “deport them all” was ever going to be a sane option, let me remind you of one fact:

    The only governments which have ever been successful in capturing and deporting millions of people at a clip were Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR.

  • Jack

    As usual, Larry, you are grossly oversimplifying.

    Even though I have always favored immigration reform that deals compassionately with those who have been here for years, I do not consider opponents to be racist. There are honorable and principled arguments to be made on both sides, and so I will not assume that any given person on the other side is automatically racist for opposing me.

    Maybe you think it’s an acceptable tactic to call people racists rather than engage them on the issues, but I don’t. I’ve had people lose their temper with me on immigration, some of whom accused me of “drinking the Washington kool-aid,” so I could have played games by calling them racist, but it would have been dishonest and manipulative. I prefer to make the cases for reform on its merits, while acknowledging that no solution is anything near perfect. There are problems no matter what we do or don’t do, and that’s why I respect both sides.

    As for Obama’s executive action, there are plenty of legal scholars who have a problem with it. Jonathan Turley of GW Law School, hardly a conservative, remains troubled by a number of actions by the administration. And two Democratic US senators have already said publicly that they oppose it.

    The fact that the House has failed to pass any immigration reform is no excuse for taking the kind of executive action that disregards separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.

    Obama himself is on record as saying repeatedly in past years that he was against acting unilaterally without Congress — precisely due to that constitutional concern. So to pretend there’s no issue here is to deny the reality of the President’s own expressed concerns in the past.

    I really got a good laugh about my supposed lack of knowledge about the immigration issue…..especially since I was a part of the mix in 07, supporting comprehensive.

    As for border security, every nation in the world has the right to control its borders. While economic conditions play a pivotal role in migration numbers, it is worse than silly to use that as an excuse not to take border security seriously.

    Looking ahead to the future, I think part of the answer is to revamp the way we do legal immigration. We need to make it far easier for people to immigrate legally. That has to mean a lot more money for CIS. It may not be politically popular, because some (not all or most) people who are against illegal immigration also oppose legal immigration, but we need to process people who come legally a lot faster.

  • Larry

    Yes racism informs much of the rhetoric employed. Demonizing Latinos primarily has been a great tool for whipping up sentiment against any kind of sane reform of our immigration system. Denying its existence is silly. Complaining about complaints of racism is not a negation. There are even outright white supremacists chiming in and providing support for politicians on the subject.

    Being troubled about a presidential action is not the same as claiming it was illegal. Legal scholars always hem and haw when Executive Orders are issued. Its the nature of their profession.

    The fact that the House not only has not passed any type of reform but steadfastly refuses to discuss it in sane terms are always what prompts this sort of action from the Executive Branch when it comes to immigration. Obama’s actions are hardly the first time the White House acting in this fashion. The president does not have to ask permission from Congress to exercise power within the realm of his branch of government. Consulting with them is more of a suggestion. I am glad he finally grew a spine and realized that such tactics weren’t helping.

    As for concern for comprehensive immigration reform, by linking it with border security, its just going through the motions of caring. Border security is constantly invoked as a bad faith dealbreaker from any consideration of immigration reform. No level of security will be satisfactory before reform talks will begin. In many ways its akin to the Israel/Palestinian peace plans which call for the “Right of Return”. An intentionally unacceptable term slipped in to give the appearance of cooperation without actually doing so.

    We both agree one of the biggest problems our immigration system the lack of resources for the processing and administration of immigration laws. We have delays for legal immigration in the decades range because nobody wants to pay for the staff to process visas.

    The idea of fines for illegal immigration has a lot of merit and would probably fix more issues than create. A major problem with the way immigration violations are handled is that the punishment is draconian compared to the offense. The chief argument used against this is rather spurious. That it would encourage more illegal immigration. No enforcement measures have ever done anything to encourage or discourage illegal immigration. Its always been the economy.

  • Jack

    Border security is obviously a problem; were it not, we wouldn’t be having this discussion about what to do about millions of people who made it across our borders illegally.

    That doesn’t mean we hold up immigration reform for years until border security is actually achieved. But what it does mean is that immigration reform must include concrete measures that constitute the best we can do on that front.

    As for racism, I see no need for me or for you to call our opponents racist. I’ll go with Occam’s Razor on this one. Since the arguments against our point of view on this issue are reasonable, the most likely and straightforward explanation for the opposition we face is genuine disagreement on principled grounds. Thus there is no warrant for leaping to the conclusion that racism is the motivating factor for most opponents.

    As for the constitutionality of Obama’s executive action, the President himself said repeatedly over the past few years that he wasn’t going to take executive action on this issue precisely because it would be constitutionally improper. Thus he is now going against his own words and his own warnings.

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  • Jack

    That is a good point, Tony.

    The millions of people who, thanks to Obama’s executive order, will now be here legally and indefinitely, are a mission opportunity for the Gospel. And that has nothing, and should have nothing, to do with politics.

    Churches should absolutely be gearing up for this in countless ways.

    I would rather have these new Americans evangelized and in my church than all the dull, conformist, native-born, politically correct, spiritually dead Millennials who are evangelicals in name only.

  • Art

    To leave your house unlocked is an invitation. Economically it is time to lock the door and incorporate those that got in while we were sleeping… so sad. To deport all would be a crime. Close the borders and hold. Like that is going to happen!

  • Larry

    Bad analogies are no substitute for making coherent and intelligent arguments.

  • Larry

    Except only about half of illegal aliens in this country came across the border illegally. Many came here legally and overstayed. The majority of measures people talk about don’t even bother acknowledging this fact nor would do squat for that group.

    Dumping the majority of the immigration budget on border measures hasn’t ever effectively done anything to alter the numbers of illegal aliens coming in to the country.

    Border security will never be achieved to the satisfaction of conservative politicians. It is an intentional deal breaker to excuse keep putting off discussion of immigration through constantly shifting goalposts as to what would constitute “adequate security at the border” Since the border enforcement measures don’t actually have a significant effect on the flow of illegal immigration, it is a permanent excuse never to change the status quo.

    I can call the opponents racists because there are unambiguous racists in major conservative positions concerning immigration. All I have to do is reference groups like NumbersUSA and FAIR who writings and nonsense studies are constantly cited by Republican politicians opposed to sane reform measures (and run by white supremacists).

  • Barry

    “it will cause even more bitterness between the two political parties ..”

    Rob, have you been seeing what’s happened over the past six years?
    The GOP/Tea Party started a howling of the id before President Obama took office.

  • Barry

    “Many would like to see the parties work together on this ..”

    None of them in the GOP.

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