A diverse group of conservative, mainly Republican religious leaders are touring the country in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Their goal: to target Republicans who can be convinced that immigration reform is a moral imperative.
In a conference call Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform held Wednesday, moderator Juan Hernandez said their group has been meeting privately on the Hill with Republicans in the House and Senate who said they needed President Obama to pave the way for reform. Now that the President has made his speech on immigration, pressure is ratcheting up on both sides of the aisle.
Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) said that a bipartisan working group in the House has developed a bill that calls for increased resources at the border, employer sanctions, and an earned path to a green card. Diaz-Balart says that if the House were to pass the bill, it would provide arguments for the Senate, but says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refuses to bring the bill to a floor vote. "The speaker -- who has the ear of the president, needs to allow a vote."
Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said the working group included some "heavy hitters" on both sides of the aisle, but noted that when he met with Pelosi, the Speaker said Democratic House members are not willing to put their seats on the line when a bill would face almost certain defeat in the Senate.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, says Republicans are divided between their short term objectives for 2010 and their long term objectives for 2012. "The Tea Party may win 2010 , but lose in 2012. A tea party without chips and salsa is no party at all."
Rev. Guillermo Maldonado, Senior Pastor of El Rey Jesus, the largest church in Miami, blames misinformation for the divide, saying that many Republicans falsely believe that Hispanics want open borders and amnesty. "I believe there's no good information to them. This is what most Hispanic leaders are talking about."
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