ANALYSIS | When we think of the caricature of the person most likely to oppose illegal immigration, usually some religious conservative comes to mind.
That's why the decision of Southern Baptists, Liberty University, and Focus on the Family to push for immigration reform had to be a shock to the system. What could lead to this surprising about face for these right-wing evangelicals, even though polls show a majority of white evangelicals support the deportation of illegal immigrants?
1) Hispanics are socially conservative. This is a matter of debate, as some see Hispanics as no more conservative than the mainstream. But Republicans think so, as this Nevada Hispanic group was created to rally Latinos against gay marriage.
2) Hispanics are a growing section of the population. The 2010 Census confirms the growth of Hispanics in America. Hispanics jumped from 18 million to nearly 30 million over the last decade, growing to nearly 10 percent of the population. The percentage of the white population shrank over the same time period.
3) Evangelicals hope to turn Hispanic Catholics into evangelicals. Already, missionaries have gone out of their way to do so in Latin America. The latest attempt involves accepting even those who only speak Spanish in the United States into the evangelical fold.
4) Inaction by Democrats on immigration reform. Hispanics may have felt that President Obama was going to push hard for the DREAM Act, but he either was unable to, or didn't try hard, feeling a dearth of political support. Now DREAM Act supporters are protesting Obama's reticence on the issue.
5) These religious conservatives aren't running for office. It's a brilliant strategy. None of these religious conservatives has to face some TEA Party candidate in a primary. They don't have to concern themselves with an electorate. They can needle Obama for not doing more, maybe woo some Hispanics over to the conservative side, and don't have to deliver anything, unlike an elected official.
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