"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More Crazy Talk on the 14th Amendment?

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

There is an interesting Politico.Com Op-ed entitled GOP flirting with disaster on Latinos by Janet Murguia, President and CEO of National Council of La Raza that outlines reasons why the NHCLC Voter Registration Drive is so critically important for each of us to participate in today. Unfortunately, the Republican Party is doing whatever they can to alienate the Latino vote by using Latinos and undocumented immigrants as a scapegoat for our nation’s ills. This strategy is not only going to hurt the party in the short term, but also in the long term as the Latino population continues to grow.

Murguia states the reality of the present GOP strategy to scare it base into action. “The real question is whether the GOP realizes the cost of its actions. The party is mortgaging its future. Republicans’ tunnel-vision focus on 2010 could mean they're flirting with permanent minority status.”

Interestingly enough, if the Republican Party was not out to scapegoat Latinos and undocumented immigrants, most Latinos would probably register as Republicans because of the conservative values many share with the GOP. Whether it is abortion, marriage, or other conservative issues, many Latinos share those conservative values. Yet, Republicans continue to alienate the Latino voter, and thus the party's future draws bleaker by driving Latinos to turn their backs on the Republican Party.

It is no wonder that according to a recent Gallup Poll, more Latinos identify with the Democratic Party by 53 percent, and only 21 percent with the GOP.

But to make it clear, the NHCLC is not an effort to register more Republicans, Democrats or Independents. It is a national objective to register more voters who will vote their values and beliefs and hold politicians who promise to uphold those values accountable. We must endeavor to involve more Latinos in the political process and involve them in helping to change the deteriorating morality and evilness in our country. By giving Latinos a powerful voice and political influence in taking a stand for our Christian values and beliefs, we can make a difference in the future outlook of our nation.

Janet Murguia makes two interesting points in this Op-ed:
• This Latino vote has already been credited with turning several red states blue, or at least purple. Yet, because of increasingly anti-Latino positioning, the Republican Party has been hemorrhaging Latino support since 2004. That was the high-water mark - when President George W. Bush won 43 percent of the Latino vote.
• Latinos are the youngest and fastest-growing group of voters in the country. What does that mean? In 1994, 3.5 million Latinos went to the polls. By 2008, that number was 10 million. There are still nearly 8 million Latinos who are eligible but have not yet registered to vote. Moreover, a half-million young Latino citizens will turn 18 every year for the next 20 years, according to Democracia U.S.A.

This is perhaps one of the most important reasons why we must do what we can to get unregistered Latinos to register to vote. I don't suspect we are encouraging anyone to register as a Democrat, but to register and vote the values they share with politicians running for public office. We need to ensure that the politicians we support for public office are sincere, honest, and will uphold their word to vote our agenda

But in order to have more influence in the election process, we have to get more Latinos REGISTERED to VOTE. "Imagine if there are 8 million Latinos who are eligible but have not yet registered to vote? Moreover, a half-million young Latinos CITIZENS will turn 18 every year for the next 20 years, according to Democracia U.S.A. "Imagine the potential political power and influence our community would have if we registered more Latinos who are eligible to vote if they registered.

The NHCLC Voter Drive is an opportunity that we must not squander or ignore in our haste to ensure that as Latino Evangelicals we not only preach justice and righteousness from the pulpit, but that we also walk our talk. This is our time to share the Gospel by standing up for justice and due process. Our values represent the values of justice, due process, and the rights of citizenship.

Registering and encouraging more individuals from the Latino community to vote can have a dramatic impact on every election they participate in. We must motivate them to register, and challenge them to vote in the elections. One of our problems has been getting Latinos to the polls to vote. We must inspire them this year to vote for candidates who represent the interests of our community.

One of the most important steps we must take is to ensure that pastors are aware of the issues and how they affect our Spanish speaking communities. We must not just expect Latinos to enter the four walls of our churches, but we must reach out to them by advocating the truths of the Bible that call for justice, righteousness, and adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But to do that effectively, pastors must understand the issues and oppose the hypocrisy and lies of the extreme right wing of the Republican Party who are doing their best to create Latino monsters out of undocumented immigrants and Latinos.

Pastors supporting the ideology of the Tea Party or laws like SB 1070 must understand these are ideologies of hate, fear, and created to scare the average white Evangelical in believing Latinos and undocumented immigrants are criminals, or part of the drug cartel culture, gang members, immigrants wanting to rip off social services, or wanting to bring a hostile cultural heritage to our country.

Senator Lindsey Graham accuses undocumented immigrant Latinas for "dropping babies" in our country so they can be citizens is so outrageous, he should apologize to every Latina for such demagogy. "Dropping babies" as if our children were animals. It is time we make sure our pastors and faith leaders are not following the hate doctrine being used to divide our country and stand up and condemn the false accusations of these hate mongers.

The debate whether or not the Congress holds hearings to change the 14th amendment to prevent "immigrant babies" from claiming American citizenship is being used to create the false scenario that Latinos are invading the country by "dropping babies." As you may know, the 14th Amendment was adopted to give slaves and their children the right to citizenship. It would give people the right to get out of slavery and bondage and give them freedom and due process under the law.

I cannot even imagine that our country was a country that approved of slavery and bondage for other human beings and denied them and their children the right to claim their own personal dignity and citizenship. It was a point in our country’s history of immoral values and disrespect for African Americans who were forced to cross the ocean in slave ships, held in chains, and treated as less than human beings.

The history of our country is not always the shiny example of democracy that we claim to hold dear in our country. We should be ashamed of how we treated Blacks in the early history of these United States. Today, descendants of this immorality have found a new “slave” and someone to deny the dignity of humanness. We must never allow the American way of life to allow the immoral enslavement of any group as we did the African Americans.

Novelguide.com best describes one of the more important aspects of the 14th Amendment: “It also bestowed on U.S. citizens equal rights under the law. The result was to limit drastically the power of states to define citizenship or to treat their citizens in a discriminatory fashion. Thus, the states were prohibited from denying a person equal protection under the law. The meaning of this development in the long-term debate over federalism versus states' rights was that henceforth the federal government would assume the ultimate responsibility for protecting the civil rights of citizens. As part of this ruling, the Fourteenth Amendment also declared that states must respect every person's right to due process of law.” In some instances, it is clear that the 14th Amendment is not being enforced, particularly when it comes to protecting the rights of many Latino citizens “right to due process of law.”

But another thing the 14th Amendment allowed was the Confederacy, those persons who disavowed their citizenship to the U.S.A. and in place, became ex-citizens and should have been charged with "treason" by our own Constitution for becoming part of the Confederacy. In other words, after disavowing their citizenship to the U.S.A., the Confederates were no longer citizens of these United States.

Knowing our country’s history and its propensity to create a civil war for slavery, treat Chinese as non persons, using “Operation Wetback” to send back Latino citizens and Mexican undocumented immigrants by cattle cars on the railroad back to Mexico, to strip Japanese of their American rights and send them to encampments in places like the lonely wind swept prairies of Southeastern Colorado, almost wiping out the Native Indian nations from their lands, and fighting another illegal war like the war against Mexico to steal land from the Mexicans, some ask, why worry about this crazy idea to change the 14th Amendment? What more American history do you need to read, because there is a lot more that should scare you in taking your place at the polls on Election Day?

If we do not confront the hate, the “crazy idea” of amending the 14th Amendment, enacting more laws like SB 1070, allowing outright lies and rumors that are false being perpetuated by members of Congress about undocumented immigrants, many good citizens begin to accept the lies as truth, a truth so warped by hate and racism.

Harold Meyerson, columnist for the Washington Post put it more concisely. "The Confederates had renounced all allegiance to the United States. They made war on the Untied States -- the Constitution's definition of treason -- and, in an effort to keep 4 million Americans enslaved, killed more of our soldiers than any foreign army ever did."

I believe if the Congress holds hearings to consider taking away the right of undocumented immigrants’ babies from becoming citizens, we should also consider taking away the right of citizenship from people who renounced their American citizenship and disavowed their right to citizenship not only for themselves, but for their children, and their children, and their children.

The Confederates were basically charged with treason for fighting a civil war that fought to maintain a way of life that included the right to keep slaves. Imagine our country had to fight a civil war in order to eliminate the right to keep slavery in this country. Instead of addressing these issues in the Congress, our country’s leaders chose to fight a civil war, against one another, and fighting one of the bloodiest wars in our history. Out of hate and racism, we ended killing thousands of men than any foreign enemy has ever done on the battle fields.

I don’t know if you have visited the sacred and solemn place called Gettysburg. I remember it as an eerie and quiet place as I stood listening only to the wind blow across the meadow where so many soldiers died defending our United States. As I looked across imagining the bursts of gunfire, cannon balls, shouts of soldiers running toward the enemy, the shouts of pain and death, and those who thought of loved one as they fall to the ground dying on the immortal fields of Gettysburg. How could “Americans fight Americans” in such an ugly war of hate, anger, and for the wrong moral values and beliefs? If we did it once, could we do again?

Meyerson also clarifies the one most troubling problems facing our country after the Civil War. What to do with a nation where about half were charged with treason? Meyerson writes, "Yet Lincoln was determined to make it easy for Confederates to regain their citizenship. By taking an oath to support the United States and its Constitution, Confederates were made Americans again." No fines, no taxes to be paid, no indoctrination classes on American civic government, and especially, no requirement to learn the English language.

Keep in mind that Abraham Lincoln was perhaps one of the greatest Presidents in our country’s history having to bring a nation torn apart by war and slavery. Meyerson again shares his insight on the contradictory sense of political philosophy from Lincoln to one present day Republican United States Senator who should be ashamed for his hateful words uttered toward undocumented immigrants. Graham, once a man of reason, now considered a man of hate and injustice.

Don’t think extreme options are not being used by Republican candidates for office; just ask Sharron Angle of Nevada who appealed to her extremist Tea Party base that at some point we might have to use our “2nd Amendment remedies.” What does “2nd Amendment remedies” mean? Angle refuses to answer that question from Nevada news journalists, but we all know the 2nd Amendment allows us the right to bear arms to protect ourselves and our property. But when used in the same context and sentence that ends by saying, “and we need to take to Harry Reid out,” what is she talking about? Talk about scary and reality if candidates of the extreme right are appealing to followers to start thinking of “2nd Amendment remedies.”

“Suppose, though, that Lincoln had been filled with the spirit of today's Republicans. The crimes that Republicans ascribe to today's illegal immigrants pale next to those of Confederate leaders and supporters (chiefly, treason). A Lindsey Graham-like Lincoln would never have let the Confederates regain citizenship. Moreover, he would have denied citizenship to their children and their children's children. A large share of the nation, certainly of the white South, would have drifted endlessly in a legal limbo.”

And yet this is exactly what Senator Graham is proposing to happen to every “undocumented immigrant baby” born (or dropped) in the United States. They would be relegated to a state of legal limbo, with no rights or claim to citizenship of any country.

Meyerson also references a study recently completed by the Center for American Progress that tracked the demographic changes within the political parties. It shows the Republican percentage of white Christians will fall to about 35 percent of the population by 2040. Who will be largest group as time moves forward?

With the hate rhetoric and by supporting the anti immigrant movement by endorsing laws like SB 1070, using Latinos and undocumented immigrants as scapegoats for our nation’s problems, and claiming that Latinos are responsible for crime waves when FBI crime stats show that violent crimes and crime in general are down, even in Arizona, is immoral and should get the attention of every Latino so that we can work to rid our Congress of these people who despise Latinos and “dropped babies”.

Perhaps the best question that columnist Meyerson asks Senator Graham is one that we all should be asking or at least contemplating. "So, the question for Lindsey Graham is: Are you serious about revoking the citizenship of 4 million children, their children and their children's children? How about a package deal: Stripping their citizenship in return for stripping the citizenship of Confederate descendants. A sort of Missouri Compromise for our times. Bipartisan in action."

With the positive future demographics on our side, let's join the NHCLC effort to ensure we are diligent in our efforts to get more of the 8 million Latinos who are eligible but who have failed to register so far this year and to encourage them by telling them their vote in the 2010 mid-term elections in November is critically important. By registering more Latinos, we can dictate our agenda in the political process, and you can believe the politicians will be listening for our agenda for a better America.

For more on the Center for American Progress study, go to this link:


GOP flirting with disaster on Latinos
By: Janet Murguia
August 12, 2010 10:00 AM EDT
The National Council of La Raza honored Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in 2007 for his work on immigration. “We are going to solve this [immigration] problem,” Graham said that night. “We're not going to run people down. We're not going to scapegoat people. We're going to tell the bigots to shut up, and we're going to get this right.”

Now, Graham talks about immigrant women giving birth in the United States as a “drop and leave” calculation — as if describing animals. This is the surest sign yet that the Republican Party has written off the Latino community in the midterm elections.

It’s your prerogative, Republican leaders, but let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, long, long ago, in the state of California , there lived a Republican governor who had abysmal approval ratings and was facing reelection. He, too, decided that Latino-bashing was his way out. And so he foisted Proposition 187 upon the land.

Yes, he won reelection. But his success placed a curse on his fellow Republicans. Not one could win a major office in the state. Until Arnold Schwarzenegger — an immigrant with moderate and pragmatic positions on immigration — broke the curse in 2003 by winning the gubernatorial race.

Now, we know 1994 was long ago. But there are several reasons why the tale of Gov. Pete Wilson and his legacy’s impact on California Republicans should serve as a wake-up call for today’s Republican Party:

The Numbers: Latinos are the youngest and fastest-growing group of voters in the country. What does that mean? In 1994, 3.5 million Latinos went to the polls. By 2008, that number was 10 million. There are still nearly 8 million Latinos who are eligible but have not yet registered to vote. Moreover, a half-million young Latino citizens will turn 18 every year for the next 20 years, according to Democracia U.S.A.

This Latino vote has already been credited with turning several red states blue, or at least purple. Yet, because of increasingly anti-Latino positioning, the Republican Party has been hemorrhaging Latino support since 2004. That was the high-water mark — when President George W. Bush won 43 percent of the Latino vote.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) received just 30 percent in 2008. A recent survey by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials shows support for this year’s California Republican candidates for senator and governor is in the teens.

The Issues: Immigration, though traditionally not at the top of Latino concerns, always has an energizing effect on voter participation because a candidate’s stance here offers Latinos a proxy for how he or she views their community. This is not surprising — considering the level of anti-Latino sentiment the immigration debate has unleashed on the Latino community, regardless of immigration status.

For years, Latino voters’ top concerns were remarkably consistent: jobs and the economy, education and health care. Today, several recent polls tell a different story — Latinos now rank immigration as either No. 1 or No. 2. And Latino voters, who overwhelmingly support comprehensive immigration reform, are likely to be looking at how candidates talk about and act on this issue.

The Voters: The anger Wilson and Prop. 187 provoked in the Latino community and its consequences are well-documented. The well-worn admonition that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it still holds. The NALEO poll reveals that strong majorities of Latino voters in five key states believe that Republicans were not making or were not interested in making an effort to reach the Latino community.

One major conclusion of the Hispanic Federation/League of United Latin American Citizens poll is that Latino voters feel that their community is “under attack.” So the party leading that systematic attack — from Arizona , to Virginia , to revising the 14th Amendment — should not think you can just come back in the next election wearing a different face, as if nothing happened..

On immigration, Republicans are choosing to trade sound national policy for cheap political points. Yet they are sacrificing more than that. If they continue, they are likely to receive little support from Latinos not just this year but for many elections to come.

Rather than trying to win hearts and minds, Republicans have chosen to scapegoat the Latino community in hopes of energizing their base.

The real question is whether the GOP realizes the cost of its actions. The party is mortgaging its future. Republicans’ tunnel-vision focus on 2010 could mean they're flirting with permanent minority status.

Janet Murguia is the president and chief executive officer of the National Council of La Raza, the largest U.S. Latino civil rights and advocacy organization.
Politico.com © 2010 Capitol News Company, LLC

Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H. S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Only One Constitutional Hearing Needed

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

There is no getting around it; some members of the Republican Party, along with some members of the Democratic Party are bent on causing as much trouble for undocumented immigrants and Latino community as they can. It is strange in this day and age to see a political strategy which sole purpose is to bend the laws to create situations of injustice and intimidation for Latinos.

For a party whose calling card has been, “what part of illegal don’t you understand?” it is hard to understand how easily they can manipulate the law to meet their own goals of unrighteousness and injustice. Arizona Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is perhaps the best know sheriff to abuse the law to intimidate, create fear and confusion, and profile Latinos for non-violent crimes. His ethnic profiled sweeps and raids in Spanish-speaking communities are appalling and a discredit to credible law enforcement officials.

While some faith leaders are quick to criticize officials in law enforcement, we shouldn’t forget many are fighting against laws like SB 1070, federal immigration programs like 287 (g), and Secure Communities where ICE wants local law enforcement agencies to share finger prints of undocumented immigrants for minor infractions of the law. These are reputable law enforcement agencies and officials who want no part of the injustice of our broken immigration system.

Yet, everyday in Congress we hear Republican congressional leaders calling for more law enforcement and more militarization of the southern border with Mexico. Perhaps the most troubling part of this chilling and frightening movement toward finding more reasons to arrest and detain and scapegoat undocumented immigrants is a disease that is afflicting conservative Democratic leaders in Congress as well. This contagious disease of hate which is turning into an epidemic among politicians who want to scare voters into making undocumented immigrants the worst problem this country has ever experienced.

The whole silly idea and debate on holding hearings on the 14th Amendment and “anchor babies” is one of the biggest political farces being dramatized to feed the prejudice, fear, and bigotry of Americans who cannot accept the blame for the many troubles we have created and that our is nation facing.

When you listen to United States Senators calling for hearings to amend the Constitution, it is as if they have forgotten the difficult process the founding leaders of our country put in place to amendment or change the United States Constitution.

Any changes or amendments to the Constitution must pass both chambers of Congress by a two thirds majority. This unlikely scenario for a Congress that can’t get enough votes to help the unemployed, or show enough compassion for Americans needing food stamps to feed their families, or putting a bi-partisan plan forward to create more jobs for Americans. The unemployment rate in this country is above 10%, and that is not even counting the people who have simply given up looking for work. In the Latino community, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate the unemployment rate for Latinos is over 12.1%.

Yet our Congress refuses to address the real significant issues facing our country. Every economic indicator and forecast show the horizon darkening with a more severe economic downturn looming in our immediate future. Instead they use the political rhetoric of fear, hate, and bigotry to blame undocumented immigrants for the failed economic policies of this country. Unless politicians stop playing with fire and get down to business of creating new jobs, our country faces a much bleaker future.

Bill Hing, Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco on a Immigration Policy Center teleconference on issues related to changing the 14th Amendment explained the difficulty this process would face. "The Constitution can only be amended in two ways: The first is for a bill to pass both houses of Congress, by a two-thirds majority. Good luck with that, especially in this partisan environment. The second method requires that a constitutional convention be called by two-thirds of the legislatures of the states. Any amendments adopted would then be sent to the states to be approved by three-fourths of the legislatures. This route has never been taken. It can't be a serious proposal because it can't be done politically and is simply a distraction from true immigration reform."

Any amendments adopted would then need to be approved by three fourths of the state legislatures. Imagine the lawsuits that would be "birthed" out any changes to the 14th Amendment.

Talk about paths lined by political pitfalls, it appears almost impossible for any amendments to the Constitution could actually even have a chance to pass in our country so badly divided by partisan politics, ideology of hate and bigotry, and racism. Perhaps our founding leaders knew that at some day in the future, there would be those in the Congress who would try to abuse the Constitution with punitive changes and amendments which would only harm our nation.

Yet, we have Republican leaders in Congress calling for hearings on the 14th Amendment and how to change the Constitution so little babies which they have labeled as "anchor babies” and whom they claim are invading our country and should not be afforded the privilege and right to be born as citizens of our country.

I doubt the political leaders calling for hearings on the 14th Amendment realize their plan would only create another class of people who would have no status whatsoever and essentially be caught in a state of limbo. I would pray that people in our country have enough sense to see the veiled threats the GOP are creating about "anchor babies" and refuse to have the Constitution amended for reasons of prejudice and unfounded lies and rumors.

Some of the Republicans, lead by former immigration reform Senator Lindsey Graham are not even sure if they would support amending the Constitution. The only reason they want hearings is to continue stirring the boiling pot of racism and to keep the Tea Party, Minutemen, and other hard core right wing racists of this country pre-occupied with their fantasy of restoring America back to the days when “everything was okay.”

In an interview on Fox News, Graham alleges that undocumented immigrant mothers are coming across the border simply to have their baby born in this country, so they can become citizens of the USA. "They come here to drop a child," Mr. Graham said. It is outrageous for Senator Graham to treat the birth of a baby as something as coarse as coming to our country to "drop a child." Obviously, an unmarried man does not have any idea what a baby coming into the lives of a family means.

In other words, Graham and others that believe their own lies, want to take America back to the days when minorities like Blacks, Japanese, American Natives, and Latinos were second class citizens, treated as poor laborers, and where “white privilege” prevailed as the national attitude toward anyone who didn’t fit the profile of belonging to the right clubs of privilege and rightful ethnic profiles. Return back to a period in our country’s history where “entitlement” and “Manifest Destiny” for the white settlers of the West was a way of life.

More than ever, it is going to take a vigilant attitude, a stronger sense of believing in our heritage and cultures, creating coalitions of like minded people who share the same values and beliefs, and a willingness to stand up and fight back against this terrible cancer which is destroying "the land of the free and home of the brave". We are losing our self respect, and in order for some Americans to have their hate fix of the day, they must continue to find “brown skin” scapegoats in whom they can blame for the problems we are facing today.

What are most frightening are the facts that unless we pull together, fight against the hate, the fear, the panic, and the self fulfilling prophecy of watching our country be destroyed from within, this hate will continue to grow uncontrollably right before our very eyes. When will we stop the hate, the violence, and the fear, starting to get a death grip on our very freedoms and rights that many Americans sacrificed their lives or shed their blood, tears, and pain to preserve the USA?

We must put a stop to the partisan politics of hate, seeking to scapegoat Latinos, and destroy the freedoms we have enjoyed. We don’t need hearings on amending the 14th Amendment; or find a way to take citizenship away from mere babies born in our country. What we do need are courageous leaders to call for hearings on why we are allowing racism to rule our country and why we are doing nothing about it.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H. S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years as a journalist. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; and in law enforcement as the Manager of Public Safety, responsible for the Denver Police Department, Denver Fire Department, and Denver Sheriff Department for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Monday, August 2, 2010

That One Question that Haunts us All

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Much has been written and discussed about the decision of U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton who ruled that four of the controversial sections of SB 1070 should be put on hold. The controversial sections of the law were blocked by the judge granting an injunction requested by the Department of Justice.

Yet even as opponents of SB 1070 were gratified by the judge's ruling, the essence of the law still remains in force. Governor Jan Brewer said the state would appeal the decision, all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. Many legal experts feel the state will have a difficult time appealing Judge Bolton's decision, but regardless of what happens next, racial and ethnic profiling will continue to still be a legal issue that Latino and undocumented immigrants will face until this hideous bill is completely thrown out by the courts.

While the injunction prohibited the state from implementing all of the sections of SB 1070, some residents in Arizona felt some relief that the full weight of the law would not fall on the Latino community. Even while many newspapers were reporting that some Arizona undocumented immigrant families were packing up and leaving, some also reported that those who decided to stay behind felt a sense of security that the most critical parts of SB 1070, like having to carry identification documents proving status had been put on hold.

But beyond the legal questions of SB 1070, and implications it still might have on churches and non-profits that help undocumented immigrant families, there remains one troubling question I believe needs to be addressed by Latino Evangelical pastors and faith leaders who support comprehensive immigration reform. It is a question that many church leaders may not want to hear or address, but none the less, it is a question that needs further clarification.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who is a Latino Evangelical minister, was traveling through Arizona. While visiting with other Latino pastors in Arizona, he tells me, "I could not believe that the whole SB 1070 law wasn't an issue. I even found several pastors that supported it." I have to admit, I felt disappointed like he did knowing that "Hispanic pastors had an anti immigration position."

It is truly a travesty to hear that some Latino pastors in Arizona are supporting laws like SB 1070. It brings up the question that haunts many of us and must be addressed and clearly articulated throughout the fellowship of ministers who belong to Christian organizations that are pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.

Many of fundamental reasons we support comprehensive immigration reform are based on Biblical teachings and commandments. There is no question that Latino ministers who are members of these national religious organizations and fellowships should understand their personal and/or political opinions behind the pulpit do not matter.

When they joined and pledged as members of theses fellowships to follow the doctrine of the Scripture that requires us to support not necessarily comprehensive immigration reform, but to support the values that demand that human beings should not be subjected to injustice and verbal, ethnic, and violent harassment.

Deuteronomy 26: 17 & 18 are pledges we made publicly before the Lord, yet it is inexcusable how some pastors simply refuse to acknowledge that in spite of their misguided political beliefs or opinions, they allow their own personal beliefs to over shadow the scripture.

They find personal excuses not to follow what the scripture commands of us and find motive for their lack of compassion and love for the sojourners the Bible commands us to love. (17): "You have (openly) declared the Lord this day to be your God, [pledging] to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His precepts, and to hearken to His voice." (18): "And the Lord has declared this day that you are His peculiar people, as He promised you, and you are to keep all His commandments."

We have legitimate reasons to complain about racial profiling by law enforcement against "our people." But when I hear that there are Latino pastors who support the injustice of SB 1070, who are pastors who live in Arizona, ministering to sometimes undocumented immigrants in their congregation, and who openly join the hate alliances that subscribe to laws that racially profile Latinos and that promote fear, hate, and injustice, I am disappointed by our lack of scriptural consistency.

And, let's be clear it is not just Latino Evangelical pastors and ministers in Arizona who support the efforts of the hate extremists and racists who are dividing our community and country, it is a nationwide issue.

Does the local pastor have the right to disregard the Biblical scripture that so indisputably commands us how we are to teach and preach the Gospel about this issue?

I am not talking about political issues, as much as I am presenting the case for how as ministers we are to present the Biblical scripture and commandments that teach us how we are to treat the sojourner or temporary resident in our land. Political beliefs do not trump the scripture in the Bible. If our political beliefs are contrary to the scripture, and to the guidance given by our national Evangelical leadership, do we have the right to support law like SB 1070 from pulpit?

I know that different denominations have different perspectives on the immigration reform debate and this debate is for those individual denominations to have and make it clear how their beliefs are tied to scriptural teaching and commandments.

My friend stated: "They would defend the law until I helped them understand that they were against the criminal elements that were crossing not all immigrants." There is no question or doubt many pastors are relying on the rumors and gossip they hear from the hate mongers and racists who are promoting laws like SB 1070 across the country.

Officials statements like every "immigrant crossing the border is a drug mule." Silly accusations like "headless bodies" have been found in Arizona by border patrols. When we rely upon the uninformed reporters or governmental officials who help spread these lies, we will end up spreading their racist hate and lies on to our congregation in our churches.

We know about 40% of undocumented immigrants over stay their visas. Others cross the border to be united with their families and find decent job to support them. Others are children brought here at a young age and know no other life except that of an "American," without citizenship or privileges. But the hate monger would have you believe that we are being invaded by criminals and terrorists, only to create fear, panic, and racism. And some Latino pastors are spreading these lies.

Leviticus 19: 33 & 34 verses are not optional. (33): "And if a stranger dwells temporarily with you in your land, you shall not suppress and mistreat him. (34): "But the stranger who dwells with you shall be to you as one born among you; and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God." Am I taking the scriptures out of context? Where are the commands to hate and malign the undocumented immigrant or temporary resident in our country?

Deuteronomy 19:18 & 19 are very clear on how we are to treat the stranger and sojourners, temporary residents in our land. (18): "He executes justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger or temporary resident and gives him food and clothing. (19): Therefore love the stranger and sojourner, for you were strangers and sojourners in the land of Egypt." Many ministers like to claim that we are not the sojourners in Egypt often referenced in the Bible.

Yet we know full well that Egypt is a type used to signify the world and worldly practices as God's children we journey through life, with some still walking the streets of Egypt. As God's original plan, we were created free from sin, but because of the sin in the Garden of Eden, we are now born into sin. We still have to face the consequences of that disobedience and first sin. But I should not have to explain this, but if I don't someone will claim, "out of context, Brother Butch!"

Deuteronomy 24: 14 & 15 are crystal clear on how we are to treat the stranger or sojourners who are in our land. (14): "You shall not oppress or extort from a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is of your brethren, or of your strangers and sojourners who are in your land inside your towns. (15): "You shall give him his hire on the day he earns it, before the sun goes down; for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it; lest he cry against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you."

These verses are as transparent as they can possibly be. Talk about enacting policies and laws protecting workers and the undocumented worker in our land. These scriptures should be the basic premise where we begin. We should not take advantage of the stranger or the sojourner who is poor and dependent on upon the agreement we made to pay them. A part of this scripture that we often neglect to articulate is powerful and is a possible judgment against us if we neglect to follow God's Word. "Lest he cry against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you."

I pray that we can come together, particularly national religious organizations, denominations, and churches that support comprehensive immigration reform for the right Christian values and begin to educate our pastors on what the scripture commands of us.

We need to create a standard of scriptural values on immigration reform conceived by the church leadership, ecumenical councils, and ministerial fellowships so a consistent message of love, compassion, and justice can be preached from the pulpit with the full assurance that we are indeed preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Vote your political beliefs, but preach the Gospel.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H. S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.