Evangelicals Heart Immigration Reform


How to explain the willingness of some conservative evangelicals to join forces with President Obama to support comprehensive immigration, as the NYT reported yesterday? Well it could be that it’s the Judeo-Christian thing to do. (Or maybe not, if you’re Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association.) But for sure there’s a political calculus, as baldly stated by that most political of evangelicals, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:

“I’ve had some older conservative leaders say: ‘Richard, stop this.
You’re going to split the conservative coalition.’…I say it might split the old conservative coalition, but it won’t
split the new one. And if the new one is going to be a governing
coalition, it’s going to have to have a lot of Hispanics in it. And you
don’t get a lot of Hispanics in your coalition by engaging in
anti-Hispanic anti-immigration rhetoric.”

Actually, this understates the GOP’s problem. According to the recent Trinity ARIS Latino survey, between 1990 and 2008 the proportion of Latinos who support the Republican Party dropped from 24 percent to 12 percent. That’s before Arizona passed its little illegal immigrant search law. It’s telling that in this summer of Obama’s discontent, the latest Gallup survey finds that he’s got a higher approval than disapproval rating in Texas, which he lost to McCain by 55 percent to 44 percent. The approval is not coming from Anglos. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this horse is out of the barn.