WASHINGTON – On the final day of the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, political leaders from both sides of the ailse addressed 500 evangelical Latino faith leaders about what's being done on Capitol Hill to address major issues facing the country today, particularly immigration.
Thursday's speakers included Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) among others.
Pence, who served as this year's keynote speaker, first thanked the faith leaders for their tireless efforts to spread the Gospel worldwide.
He then dived right into the touchy topic of immigration reform, acknowledging it as a critical issue facing the country as a whole, and the Hispanic community in particular.
"The truth is, illegal immigration hurts communities on both sides of our border, too often financing dangerous cartels and drug dealers that profit from human suffering," he said, assuring the audience that a bipartisan solution was in the works.
"The plan that our president put on the table would secure our borders, address immigration loopholes, and provide a responsible solution for those who were brought to this country through no fault of their own," Pence said.
Meanwhile, Speaker Ryan said he will bring two bills addressing a solution for the Dreamers to the House floor next week. One bill is a more conservative immigration bill introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). The other bill that is still being finalized is said to be a more moderate compromise bill.
"In the House, we have brought together lawmakers from across the spectrum, moderates and conservatives, to find a path forward," he told the gathering of faith leaders Thursday. "As a result, we will have a debate and votes on the House floor next week."
"My goal has always been a lasting solution, to address our security challenges, and to address the DACA program so we don't have another problem five, 10 years down the line," he continued. "Next week's votes are an important step, and I want to thank you for your leadership. Your voice plays a critical role in this discussion."
Another big issue the pastors are advocating for is an end to the new policy of separating families at the border – a practice Pelosi panned as being "barbaric."
"To the barbaric and unacceptable policy of ripping children from the arms of their parents at the border... barbaric. That's not American. It's not faith-based," Pelosi told those gathered at the breakfast.
Despite the often contentious back and forth between the two sides, Rev. Luis Cortes, host of the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference (NHPBC) and president and founder of the Hispanic faith-based group Esperanza, welcomed the bipartisan input.
"We are blessed that we have both sides of the aisle," Rev.Cortes told CBN News. "As people of faith, our job is to talk to power and to leadership and to say to them Jesus believes this."
Cortes has worked with every administration since President Bill Clinton's on immigration reform. He says while they haven't been able to get anything across the finish line yet, he hopes that at least a permanent fix for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, is on the horizon.
"The Israelites were 40 years in the desert, and this is our desert. So we will continue and push forward and push forward," said Cortes. "We know that one day there are going to be hundreds of thousands of Christian people hitting their knees and thanking God because the miracle has happened – you know what the miracle is? That we actually got a bipartisan bill passed in the United States of America."