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First Presidential Debate: What Latino Evangelicals are Watching For


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Latino evangelicals will be tuning into the presidential debate on Monday night, hoping to hear Donald Trump affirm that he will not deport 11 million illegal immigrants and watching to see if Hillary Clinton will affirm faith values.

CBN News spoke with Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, about expectations for the first face-off by the candidates since their party's nominations.

He noted that Trump has reached out to Latinos of faith in recent months and that some recent opinion polls show Trump performing as well with Hispanic voters as GOP nominee Mitt Romney did in 2012.

Still, Rodriguez said that Latino believers want Trump to affirm and expand on previous comments that he will not deport some 11 million immigrants here illegally. They're also looking to hear him speak about the issues of life and religious liberty.

Latino Christians are waiting to hear Hillary Clinton speak about issues of faith.

"At least saying, 'I want to protect religious liberty. Christians can be Christians in America' and protect our rights," he said. "We haven't heard that from Hillary Clinton's campaign whatsoever."

A Pew Research Center poll released in July said that the economy is the top issue for Latinos overall. Eighty-six percent say it's very important. Eighty-three percent say healthcare, terrorism and education are very important.

Immigration is very important for 80 percent, Supreme Court appointments for 62 percent, and abortion for 59 percent.

A record 27.3 million Latinos are eligible to vote this year, compared to 23.3 million in 2012. But Rodriguez is pessimistic about how many will turn out, given the negative campaigning and lack of enthusiasm he sees for both candidates.

Historically, Latinos have lagged behind when it comes to voter turnout. In 2012, just 48 percent of those eligible to vote actually voted, compared to 66 percent of blacks and 64 percent of whites.

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About The Author


Heather Sells covers a variety of issues for CBN News ranging from religious liberty to Latino politics. She also serves as a news anchor and regularly moderates #CBNNewsNow, a new Facebook Live show on the CBN News Facebook page. In the last year she’s reported on stories across the country including ministries working in the midst of Chicago’s homicide crisis, the emerging debate over transgender rights and religious freedom and the Hispanic vote in Florida. She has also reported on the border crisis in McAllen, Texas, human trafficking in Brazil and backyard chicken farming in Brooklyn, New