In the past year, political expediency, xenophobia, and extremism defeated reason, compromise, and reconciliation in the immigration debate. The level of animosity directed towards the immigrant community, particularly the Latino community, stands at an all time high. We cannot stay silent.
The world once again bears witness to the actions taken, not just by our Congress, but by the people of the U.S. Will apathy, nativism, and xenophobia silence the voices of reason, compromise, family values, Judeo-Christian ethos, and border protection? It is time for reasonable U.S. citizens and for the faith community to rise up and clearly state that while we all desire to protect our borders and apply the rule of law, we will not embrace the nativist and discriminatory rhetoric articulated under the guise of border protection. We can stop illegal immigration, protect our borders, protect our values, and simultaneously protect the American dream only if we work within the framework of our Judeo-Christian heritage and repudiate all discriminatory and bigoted threads.
On a personal note, I am a U.S. citizen born in New Jersey; a Generation X-er who never would of believed that in my lifetime I would see the resurrection of bigoted, nativist, and discriminatory elements in our society. We must understand that time is of the essence. The time has come for the U.S., and particularly the U.S. faith community, to comprehend that at the border and in our communities, we have the poor, suffering, seekers, Samaritans, and strangers. Yet, above all, in vast majority, what we have at the borders and in the field, in our cities and in our farms, are our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr. is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, an organization of Hispanic evangelicals. Watch his recent conversation with Bill Moyers.