WASHINGTON (RNS) As they push for immigration reform, Hispanic evangelical leaders said Republican proposals to repeal the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship provision could erode support from Hispanic voters.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Aug. 8 a repeal of the birthright provision is worth considering. Other Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also have said it should be reviewed.

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, harshly criticized such statements.

We are very disappointed with the rhetoric stemming from the Republican Party, he said. The recent Republican consideration on amending the constitution to deny citizenship to children of immigrants born in the U.S. may very well serve as the nail on the coffin to the inevitable alienation of America’s largest ethnic minority.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called the discussion of the 14th Amendment a distraction but doesn’t expect it to splinter the coalition of conservative Christian leaders working for immigration reform.

I think it’s actually a tangential issue to immigration reform, Land said on Thursday (Aug. 19). He said any discussion of changing the amendment would have to, from the very beginning, grandfather in all those who are born in the United States prior to the passage of an amendment.

Obama administration officials have opposed suggestions of changing the amendment.

The 14th Amendment enshrines, and has for more than 150 years, equal protection and due process ”two things that we don’t think need to be tampered with, said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Friday (Aug. 13).

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