SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and senior pastor of New Seasons Christian Worship Center in Sacramento shared his firsthand experience touring a migrant detention center during a press briefing Monday. The facility Rodriguez toured, with a group of other pastors, was the same facility touted by media pundits and some political figures to suggest detainment conditions of illegal immigrants were deplorable and inhumane.
Rodriguez said he was initially “full of indignation” after reading the reporting which cited soiled diapers, deplorable conditions and a lack of basic hygiene and sanitary items. “I read the reports, saw the news clips,” he said. “I just wanted to see what was actually happening in order to better enable our efforts to find a fair and a just solution to our broken immigration system.”
So, Rodriguez asked the White House to grant him immediate access to a detention facility in El Paso County, Texas.
“To my surprise, I saw something drastically different from the stories I’ve been hearing in our national discourse. Even as a veteran of immigration advocacy in the U.S., I was shocked at the misinformation of the crisis at the border,” noted Rodriguez.
In fact, the group of pastors observed other facts during their tour of the facility and conversations with the people working there.
“What did our visit reveal? We found no soiled diapers, no deplorable conditions and no lack of basic necessities,” Rodriguez remarked.
Surprised by the disconnect between reporting and reality, Rodriguez said he specifically asked the border agents if they had staged the facility in response to the negative press, “They unequivocally denied it — we were witnessing the identical conditions the attorneys saw when they toured the facility days earlier,” Rodriguez said.
Even more perplexing was the fact that, according to those who spoke to Rodriguez at the facility, the sources from whom the negative coverage originated “never toured the areas of the facility that we toured.” Some at the facility speculated that they might have had political motivations.
Rodriguez said he left encouraged by the commitment and dedication of America’s Border Patrol and immigration officers, “many of which are Latinos, by the way.” He said one emotional Border Patrol agent turned to him and said, referring to the vilifying punditry, “Pastor Sam, what they’re saying about us is completely false. We care about these kids and have a passion for our calling.”
Rev. Rodriguez points blame for that broken immigration system at consecutive White House administrations and especially both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress and implored each to “address the system they created.”
“What’s heart-wrenching is that we have both Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress, who can’t come together for the purpose of doing the right thing and finding a solution to our immigration crisis.”
“Please, President Trump, please White House, work with the Republicans and the Democrats [and] please, please, please, please, Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, please come together to solve this crisis, immediately.”
Joining Rev. Rodriguez on the briefing were other pastors who accompanied him, including NHCLC board member and immigrant pastor Carlos Moran, who said, “we, as evangelical leaders that serve in different segments are very committed to helping children regardless of their status and we commend those officers that are trying their very best to serve and fulfill their duty at the border. However, we do call on our political leaders to set aside their personal agendas and begin focusing on resolving this immigration crisis.”
Rev. Rodriguez is a consistently bipartisan voice on immigration reform and he has spoken directly to top political leaders of both parties within the last several days.
To request additional comment from Rev. Rodriguez email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, executive producer of “The Impossible” with 20th Century Fox, and bestselling author of “You Are Next: Destroy What Has Paralyzed You and Never Miss Your Moment Again.” He has been named by CNN and Fox News as “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and Time Magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is recognized and identified by Time Magazine, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, Charisma Magazine, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, Fox News and CNN as America’s largest and most influential Hispanic/Latino Christian organization with 40,118 certified member churches in the United States and chapters in Latin America.