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Evangelical pastor: ‘Trump may surprise the world and sign comprehensive immigration reform’

Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodríguez on immigration reform

Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodríguez believes President Donald J. Trump “will surprise the world and sign immigration reform.” Rodríguez serves as Trump’s spiritual adviser and said he gave Trump a list of 5 ideas on solving the country’s immigration problem.
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Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodríguez believes President Donald J. Trump “will surprise the world and sign immigration reform.” Rodríguez serves as Trump’s spiritual adviser and said he gave Trump a list of 5 ideas on solving the country’s immigration problem.

Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodríguez believes President Donald J. Trump – despite his rhetoric against Mexican immigrants, his administration’s policy of splitting up families, and, a demand for a wall on the southern border – “may surprise the world and sign comprehensive immigration reform.”

Rodríguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, made his prediction during a spirited, question-and-answer breakfast Tuesday morning at People’s Church before a crowd of about 175.

Rodríguez, who serves as Trump’s spiritual adviser, confessed he does not “line up with” everything Trump states.

“I put the president’s rhetoric aside,” said the Sacramento resident. “The lord placed me there to somehow push for immigration reform.”

Rodríguez, who was questioned by syndicated newspaper columnist Rubén Navarrette Jr. during an hour-long session, said he gave the president a list of five ideas on solving the country’s immigration problem.

“I’m gonna fix the problem,” said Rodríguez. “We have a proposal that is common sense. We can bring an end to the immigration malaise.”

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Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodríguez – president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and spiritual adviser to President Donald J. Trump – said the president may surprise the world and pass immigration reform. The Sacramento resident spoke at a May 14 breakfast at People's Church in Fresno. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

The suggestions come from his national organization.

▪ Secure borders and enforce the law, including the construction of a wall with physical elements and technology. “This will win the trust of the American people and prevent more illegals from arriving.”

▪ Legal status, not amnesty. A guest worker program would be established for undocumented residents who are employed or contributing to the economy to become permanent residents. Adults not dependent on government subsidies would apply for permanent residency status, but would have to return to their home country and get in the back of the line if they apply for citizenship.

▪ Employers must take responsibility. Employers would use e-Verify to establish the legal status of those they hire. Employers would have the option of sponsoring current workers who are not legal to work.

▪ Assimilate: The country must assimilate immigrants and guest workers, including training in English and civics. “A common language unites people. Immigrants are more likely to succeed if they learn English.”

▪ Work, not welfare: Reform programs that discourage work.

“I sat down with the president and (Vice President Mike) Pence and (Trump advisor) Jared Kushner and gave him the proposal,” said Rodríguez, who was born in Pennsylvania to Puerto Rican parents.

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Newspaper syndicated columnist Rubén Navarrette Jr. participated in a question-and-answer session with Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodríguez at People’s Church in Fresno on May 14. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

“As Christians, we believe it is time to reconcile border security with the security of our values – values that include faith and family,” the evangelical organization said in its proposal.

The White House has yet to unveil its immigration plan, but some reports have indicated the president will unveil an immigration proposal this week.

Rodríguez – who has also served as a spiritual adviser to the previous two presidents – called the Trump administration’s separation of children from their parents at the border “reprehensible. You can’t separate a 3-year-old kid from mom or dad.”

The 49-year-old Rodríguez has gone on national television to criticize the president on policy.

“The (Trump) rhetoric I will not endorse or even justify, but the (immigration) policies of (President Barack) Obama were equally as morally reprehensible and egregious without a doubt,” said Rodríguez, who noted there were more deportations under the Obama administration than under Trump.

Rodríguez said Trump told him once at the White House, “Pastor Sam, I love Latinos.”

The pastor shared that Trump also told him the separation of children at the border “was unintentional.”

“I think they have a solution” for immigration, he said.

This article was updated at 3:30 p.m. May 15 to correct a quote used in the headline and the opening paragraph.

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