This Is A Rare Jewel: On Univision, A Positive Take on Trump

Here is something we seldom see on Univision: a straight-up interview with one of the most prominent Latino evangelical pastors in the United States today. One who at the same time is also rather close to, and positive about, President Donald Trump.

In the interview, Pastor Samuel Rodríguez, whose perspective and priorities are widely shared by millions of Hispanic Christians throughout the country (and who was invited by Trump to offer a prayer at the new President’s inauguration) revealed that he is actually upbeat about what the President and the Congress will do on immigration.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL:  We have presented a proposal to him [Trump] and I believe it has all the push, even from the most conservative Republicans: the Freedom Caucus.​

...

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Can we believe Trump? Let’s see, Donald Trump during the campaign said he wanted to deport the 11 million undocumented.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Correct. He changed his mind. Because now he is not deporting 11 million. In other words, he does not have a deportation force looking for people.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: He has deported, but not as many as Barack Obama.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: That is correct.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Good, but can we believe Donald Trump in this intention to legalize 11 million, or the majority of the 11 million?

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: It is a conversation that is developing. I cannot speak, of course, on the part of the President, but it is a conversation that is growing at the moment with the White House and with the Republican leaders.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: It would be a big surprise.

According to Pastor Sam, who is President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Coalition, a proposal is in the works, for consideration as early as this fall, which would basically start to separate out “the good ones” from the “bad ones” among the country’s unauthorized immigrant population.

The so-called “Dreamers” (minors without criminal offenses who were brought to U.S. by their parents) would apparently be the first to get a permanent legal reprieve, followed by their otherwise law-abiding parents.

In contrast with other pro-Trump guests, Rodríguez was treated by anchor Jorge Ramos to a noticeably less hostile, and more constructive, line of questioning.

Rodríguez has been on the show before, and notably said on Univision following the 2016 U.S. presidential election that defeated Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton had “completely failed to connect with the strongest dynamic in our community, which is the faith dynamic.” Rodríguez specifically referenced in that interview a negative Latino reaction to Clinton’s radical pro-choice stance during the campaign, in addition to her legal travails following her stint as Secretary of State of the United States.

All in all, the segment with Pastor Sam certainly represented a welcome change of pace from the usual liberal-driven, liberal-dominated content on the show.  

Below is the transcript of the above-referenced portions of the interview, as aired on the May 28, 2017 edition of Al Punto.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: With us is Pastor Samuel Rodriguez. He is one of the few Hispanic leaders who has had special access to President Donald Trump. He was recently in a meeting with the President in the White House, and Pastor Rodríguez assures us that he is working with the Trump administration on a proposal to achieve an immigration reform or a legalization that would help millions of undocumented immigrants. He is here with us to tell us about this plan. Reverend, thanks for being here. We always speak via satellite and finally we can speak here in person. Thank you very much.

...

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: We are fighting daily, without any exaggeration, talking directly with the White House, with the President's advisers. I was with the President last week, if I'm not mistaken. It is to push an agenda of an immigration reform that does not separate families, that is committed to protect the border, deport those who are involved in criminal activity. At the same time, not to separate families. Here my left hand says, "Righteousness, what is right, what is good, exalts a nation," and separating families is not what is right or just.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Let's see, the most interesting, as it seems to us, is that you can talk directly to the President. You spoke to President Trump.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Yes, I spoke with President Trump for two days that we spent together, one time…

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: At the White House.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: At the White House.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: You say it as if it were something normal. It seems to me to be something really extraordinary.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: No, I say thanks to God. I recognize that it’s not for Samuel Rodríguez. It’s representing our people, and what God has done. But it’s a privilege.

...

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Let’s see, what seems to me like great news is, if not the announcement at least the intention, to explore by the White House, by President Trump and his advisers, a possible legalization, not citizenship, but a legalization. What did they tell you?

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL:  Jorge, we have presented a proposal to him [Trump] and I believe it has all the push, even from the most conservative Republicans: the Freedom, Caucus. Because it says everything we already know, right? Protect the border, deport those who are involved in crime, but it says: "The rest of the people, the good people who are working, good people…

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: The majority, the great majority.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL:  98.9%, legalize them without the guarantee of citizenship.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: I’ll stop you there. Let's see, then, we're talking about… there are 11 million undocumented people.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Correct.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Legalize most of them, those who have no criminal record.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Yes. They are the majority.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Very well. And then, but not give them citizenship.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Do not give it, there is no guarantee. And one says, "But what are you doing?" No, no, no, if they want to be citizens, they have to return to their country of origin and start the process by going to the end of the line, paying for their expenses, start the process and they can come back here and work, and return there for the process.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: If they want to be citizens?

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: If they want to be citizens.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: But the majority of the undocumented people, what do you think they want, Reverend?

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: This is our people, beautiful people, people created in the image of God, family people that go to our churches, they are part of our communities. They have told me: "Reverend Rodriguez, our priority is not to vote."

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: “It's that they do not separate me."

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: "It's that they do not take me away from here. I have been here for so many years, I worked, my children grew up here…”

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Can we believe Trump? Let’s see, Donald Trump during the campaign said he wanted to deport the 11 million undocumented.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Correct. He changed his mind. Because now he is not deporting 11 million. In other words, he does not have a deportation team looking for people.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: He has deported, but not as many as Barack Obama.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: That is correct.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Good, but can we believe Donald Trump in this intention to legalize 11 million, or the majority of the 11 million?

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL:  It is a conversation that is developing. I cannot speak, of course, on the part of the President, but it is a conversation that is growing at the moment with the White House and with Republican leaders.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: It would be a big surprise.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: They responded to me and said: "Reverend, but..."  This is what they tell me, "your people, how are they going to react?" And I say: "The priority is not to touch our families, not to deport them, please" And we are not stating that they will never be citizens. If they want to be citizens, they have to return to their country of origin. But... in the proposal, I have put that the children are citizens themselves. These children do not have to return, they should not return. Why do they have to pay for their parent’s sin?

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: The Dreamers, we are talking about.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Yes. They do not have to pay for what their parents did. Then, they are citizens, but the parents...

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION:  Reverend, do you believe Trump? Do you believe Trump?

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Yes, I believe him, because, look, I have talked to him about other matters and I have seen him achieve, with me, his word. And I am not exaggerating, with me. Again, over the course of the last few years, I'm not talking about the rhetoric, that sort of thing, but I have seen a man who, in my opinion, has been a sincere man with me, with Samuel Rodriguez. That is why it is difficult for me. Here I have a struggle of my people, my family, literally my family, my grandchildren, and here I have the struggle with the optics of the President and the prior rhetoric of the campaign. How can you reconcile it? I want to reconcile it. I don’t want our people to be separated, that families not be separated. I want to reconcile our country.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Ronald Reagan in 1986 gave amnesty, as it was called then, to three million. Do you think, then, that Trump could achieve that? It would be a big surprise, when would this be?

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: They will never name it amnesty.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Of course, they would not call it amnesty.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Never.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Nor immigration reform.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Nor immigration reform.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: But legalization, yes.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: No, but legalize our people so that they are working, that they are with their family, that they are doing good for the community...

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: When, Reverend?

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL:  That is going to be achieved.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: When?

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: My prayer is that, although it sounds ridiculous, Jorge, for this month of September and October there will be a push. Whenever Hispanic Heritage month comes around, there is always a push from Congress, right? But I think there is now... I cannot analyze what is happening at the moment with the investigations, that kind of thing, but if everything goes well the success that he just had in the Middle East and visiting the different religious networks...

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: His meeting with the Pope.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Yes, definitely. And with the Muslim leaders, etc., the Jews in Israel, and now with the Pope, he has a bit of momentum, and when he returns here, there will be a push back with domestic issues, but I think that might be. Imagine a President Trump, imagine this yourself, him signing a law legalizing close to 11 million people who are in this country. The irony of everything, the surprise!

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: Of course. Reverend, I hope you are right. Thanks for being here.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Thank you.

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