MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – President Donald Trump will leave his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago resort on Friday to launch his ‘Evangelicals for Trump’ coalition at the King Jesus International Ministry church in West Kendall.
The pastor of the megachurch, Guillermo Maldonado, has promised his parishioners who entered the U.S. illegally that they won’t risk deportation by attending.
During a Sunday Spanish language service, Maldonado told the audience of hundreds that he’s heard people asking how he could bring Trump to the church if those attending include people who lack immigration papers, given the president’s hard-line immigration policy.
“I ask you: Do you think I would do something where I would endanger my people? I’m not that dumb,” Maldonado told parishioners.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reported Maldonado also made an appeal to some of his congregation who feel apprehensive about attending because of the Trump administration’s increased immigration raids.
“I don’t think the president would do such a thing,” Maldonado said. “Don’t put your race or your nationality over being a Christian. Be mature. If you want to come, do it for your pastor. That’s a way of supporting me.”
The church was chosen by Trump to host about 70 Christian pastors during an event billed as an “‘Evangelicals for Trump’ Coalition Launch.”
Maldonado asked churchgoers from Venezuela and Cuba to raise their hands and emphasized his own opposition to communist dictatorships, something Trump has also done at public rallies in South Florida as an appeal to Hispanic voters.
The pastor said the church isn’t organizing or financing the event, and that anyone seeking to attend the campaign rally had to pre-register at DonaldJTrump.com.
On Sunday, Secret Service agents were examining bags before the services, to prepare for the event. Every other church service during the week, except for a New Year’s Eve mass, is being canceled, Maldonado said.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)