Yet these are precisely the people that Tancredo Republicans are alienating. Not all Hispanics view immigration favorably, but 100 percent resent being targets of suspicion. When I talked this week with the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., a prominent Hispanic evangelical, he said of congressional Republicans: "This is a party closing its door to us, hijacked by extremists.""All I hear," he told me, "from conservative leaders I work with, very socially conservative people, is, 'I can't continue to vote for a party that is exposing threads of bigotry and racism.' " Conservatives need to be reminded that Latinos -- Protestant and Catholic -- are, in some ways, different from the mainstream culture. Higher percentages attend church regularly. Higher percentages of Latino immigrants are married; lower percentages are divorced. "The elephant in the room," says Rodriguez, "is the Latinoization of America. What are the results? America will be a more religious nation. America will continue to be a nation that promotes family values. Wow, that really turns American culture upside down."
For Rodriguez and others, religion adds an element beyond politics and culture to the immigration debate. The Christian faith teaches that our common humanity is more important than our nationality. That all of us, ultimately, are strangers in this world and brothers to the bone; and all in need of amnesty. This belief does not dictate certain policies in a piece of legislation, but it does forbid rage and national chauvinism. And this is worth a reminder as well.