The president of the nation's largest Latino evangelical organization says an immigration deal is possible in the new Congress – in part because of his working relationship with President Trump and House leader Nancy Pelosi and also because of a new strategy he believes could make a difference.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who also serves as a faith advisor to the president, worked with both Pelosi and Trump just months ago trying to craft a bill that would have helped Dreamers.
Now, Rodriguez says he has a compromise plan that could appeal to both parties: take citizenship off the table as a legal solution for the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants. Rodriguez is calling for a permanent guest worker status which would deny voting rights.
"The great anxiety is that Republicans believe we are legalizing eleven to twelve million potential Democratic voters," he said. "That's the great fear. That's the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. It's about voter turnout and voters in the upcoming five, ten, fifteen, twenty years and if we remove that from their anxiety...we can make a deal."
Rodriguez criticized reported plans by the administration to take executive action on immigrants seeking asylum. He compared it to executive orders issued by the Obama administration and warned that a new administration could simply reverse any such White House directive.
"We're going around in circles. We need Congress to act as expeditiously as possible. That would be my recommendation to the president," he said. "Let's get this across the line. It has to take place. We can't be doing this for the next five, ten, fifteen, twenty-five years."