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Latinos struggle to reconcile religion and immigration before South Carolina vote

Almost 80 percent of adults in South Carolina identify as Christian. As a key voting bloc for the Republican party, the presidential candidates have been heavily campaigning across the state to ensure their support in the upcoming primary this weekend.

Christian Latinos, however, seem to have been left somewhat on the political sidelines, though almost 40% of Latinos ages 18 to 29 are eligible to vote in South Carolina.

“Maybe they think that we’re not able to vote,” Debora Castillo, 31, told Fusion’s Mariana Atencio. “Or maybe they think that our vote wouldn’t be one they they necessarily want because we’re biased. But I think if I could say anything to them it’s: definitely reach out. Because we’re here and we’re gonna go to the polls,” she said.

Castillo says she’s leaning Republican, but because candidates haven’t made enough of an effort to reach out to the Hispanic Christian community in South Carolina, she’s still weighing her options.

Other young, Christian Latinos are having a difficult time reconciling their beliefs with their stance on immigration. The issue has kept some Latino evangelicals, who tend to be more socially conservative, from giving their full support to the Republican Party in this election.

“Sometimes there are principles that [Republicans] believe that I also believe,” Pastor Frankie Rodriguez, 34, said. “And yet they stand so far away from what I believe on immigration reform.”

His church, Wesleyana El Camino, offers legal services to immigrants in Greenville, S.C.

“Many times I find that what the presidential candidates are saying in contradiction with what scripture has to say, especially when it comes to immigration,” said Rodriguez. “I believe the bible says it’s our responsibility to love and treat the immigrant right.”


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