Hispanic evangelical leaders on Tuesday issued an urgent call for “comprehensive and fair” immigration reform and encouraged young Latinos to register to vote and participate in the U.S. presidential election in November.
“All of us Latino evangelical leaders are lobbying for comprehensive immigration reform that provides undocumented immigrants with a path toward citizenship,” the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, which represents some 3,000 congregations, told Efe on Tuesday.
He exhorted young Hispanic evangelicals to participate actively in the November elections “in favor of a law that seeks the common well-being of immigrants and the poor,” as well as access to equitable education.
“We’re in favor of immigration reform and we want it now,” emphasized Salguero, who explained that the country’s roughly 11 million Latino evangelicals share this feeling based “on the Bible and on moral and just laws.”
The pastor made his remarks within the framework of the campaign his group, known as NaLEC, is waging in states such as Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Pennsylvania to mobilize the evangelical Latino vote.
At a telephone conference held on Tuesday, Salguero, colleague Melanie Santiago and DREAM Act advocate Lucas DaSilva said that the Latino evangelical church “is not going to stop until reform comes.”
“We’re persistent and believers” and also “people of hope,” said Salguero. “We will not stop until immigration reform is carried out.”
The DREAM Act, which could benefit up to 2.1 million young people, would allow the legalization of undocumented students who entered the United States before the age of 16 and complete at least two years of college or enlist in the Armed Forces, among other requirements.
With regard to the controversial state immigration laws such as Alabama’s HB 56 and Arizona’s SB 1070, which criminalize the presence of undocumented immigrants, Salguero said that they are initiatives that, “in reality, harm not only the families they separate but also the state,” since they “have a negative economic impact.”
“They are not just or moral laws, they make no sense and they don’t benefit either the nation or families,” he said.
Pastor Melanie Santiago said that the objective is “to mobilize young evangelicals” so that they register to vote.
Voters registration is on the agenda for NaLEC’s Tuesday night rally in Orlando, Florida.