Everybody Hates Trump’s Immigration Plan, Except The Religious Right

President Donald Trump addresses the June 2017 Faith and Freedom Coalition Road to Majority conference.

When President Trump released an immigration plan last week that offered a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children in exchange for drastic cuts in legal immigration and a border wall, immigrants’ rights advocates quickly pointed out that the hardline proposal was hardly a compromise. At the same time, even though the president’s proposal was full of policy giveaways to anti-immigration hardliners, anti-immigration groups declared that the plan’s provisions for Dreamers made it a non-starter for them.

Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies declared that the “White House has botched the DACA issue” and blamed Trump for “preemptive surrender” on the number of Dreamers covered by the proposal and for not cutting enough family-sponsored visas. Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform said that the proposal “offers Americans too little while granting illegal aliens too much.” Rep. Steve King, the hardline anti-immigration Iowa Republican said the proposal “negotiates away American Sovereignty.” The Breitbart News homepage bore a headline that dubbed Trump “Amnesty Don” and Breitbart political editor Matt Boyle said that the proposal showed the president is “kind of becoming a little bit of a loser.”

But one segment of outside advocates did seem to like the plan: Religious Right activists who have been attempting to portray themselves as advocates for immigration reform while allying with a party that has gone all-in on demonizing immigrants.

Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), called the proposal “a complete affirmation of everything the NHCLC has worked for since the Bush administration” and “a fulfillment of everything this administration has promised us since Trump’s inauguration.” Rodriguez was critical of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric during the presidential campaign but quickly moved to a softer stance once it became clear Trump would be the Republican nominee.

Rodriguez’s NHCLC colleague Tony Suarez said on Twitter, “If you have been an advocate of immigration reform you ought to be celebrating @POTUS & the framework he has laid out. If Congress passes this it will be the largest immigration deal passed in three decades. President Trump is about to do what 4 other administrations couldn’t do!”

Johnnie Moore, who often acts as the public voice of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, told CBN that the proposal “includes points of agreement and disagreement for both parties & therefore represents a helpful baseline for a constructive negotiation. This is the President acting masterfully as negotiator-in-chief, and we are hopeful that there will be enough Democrats and Republicans in congress willing to act in the best interests of our nation.”

Ralph Reed called the plan a “wise and common-sense path to a bipartisan consensus on immigration,” saying, “The Bible and the eternal, timeless principles of our faith command us to show compassion and love for the alien among us.  Those same faith-based principles require that immigrants show respect for the rule of law and do not begin their journey to becoming an American by violating our laws.”