The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, The Hispanic Evangelical Association, responded today to the unfortunate term Congressman Young engaged in describing Hispanic migrant workers.
As Christ followers we stand committed to an agenda that replaces rhetorical pornography with the redemptive language of love, tolerance, compassion and reconciliation. The pejorative term “wetback,” reminds us of a time in our Nation’s history when racial epithets stood unchecked, while many of our brothers and sisters of color lived in a segregated society, demeaned, and forced to use separate restrooms, restaurants, and even drinking fountains.
As a modern society, we have for the most part evolved beyond these offensive and divisive words and deeds. And yet, clearly we have not yet reached the promised land of a fully and harmoniously post-racial America.
It is our considered opinion that America cannot and will not be a fully integrated nation until we have passed an immigration reform that allows for the just integration of all members of our society, including the 11,000,000 undocumented individuals that remain hidden in the shadows of the American Dream.
However, even in the wake of this extremely unhelpful comment by a long-time member of Congress, we remain optimistic. In the course of our many meetings with members of both parties in Congress, we have never experienced anything that remotely resembles racial intolerance or insensitivity.
On the contrary, almost every member of Congress that we have met with has expressed a strong and sincere desire to work toward a complete reform of our broken immigration system, and the integration of the undocumented into society.
Therefore, we pray that this unfortunate mis-statement by one member of Congress does not, in any way, derail all of the fine work that is being done in Washington to fix our broken immigration system. We trust that it will not. We sincerely believe that there is an abundance of good will emanating from both parties on this issue.
In closing, while we repudiate the comment by Congressman Young in the strongest possible terms, we encourage our friends in Congress to remain committed to the task of legislating immigration solutions that respects the innate dignity of every person, while also adhering to our shared commitment to the Rule of Law.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez,
President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Hispanic Evangelical Association
Robert Gittelson, President, Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and Senior Advisor on Immigration Policy to the NHCLC