Immigration: Republicans and Democrats should listen to Jorge Ramos and Gustavo.




Last December it seemed we’d practically beaten the immigration issue to death, so I didn’t post a piece on Obama’s Executive Order.  Univision‘s Jorge Ramos had recently received a journalism award, and the OC Weekly‘s Gustavo had written “Obama should be more like Reagan, grow some cojones and grant a blanket amnesty.”   This Friday the NY Times published an article titled “Jorge Ramos, Voice of Latino Voters on Univision, Sends Shiver Through G.O.P.”   I’ll highlight parts of these articles.

Jorge Ramos is the “star newscaster of Hispanic TV” according to The Wall Street JournalTime magazine included him in its list of “the 25 most influential Hispanics in the United States.”  Ten years ago he was already considered the Spanish Walter Cronkite, “more incisive than Dan Rather, more charming than Peter Jennings, Mexican-born Jorge Ramos is Spanish-language television’s celebrity talking head.  An anchor at Univision, the fifth most-watched television network in the United States.”

Last November he received an award for “lifetime achievement in defending press freedom,” issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists.  His acceptance speech eloquently stated that

The best of journalism happens when we side with the victims, with the most vulnerable, with those who have no rights. The best of journalism happens when we, purposely, stop pretending that we are neutral and recognize that we have a moral obligation to tell truth to power…”

His words resonate among millions of families, and his influence is credited on the high Hispanic voter turnout in the 2012 election:

“As an immigrant myself, many times I speak up for other immigrants who don’t have a voice. That’s why I told President Obama that he didn’t keep his promise on immigration and that’s why I told Speaker John Boehner, to his face, that he blocked immigration reform in the House. I think I was just doing my job. As a journalist, part of my job is to make visible the millions of immigrants who are invisible to the rest of America.”

One of the presenters of that award to Ramos was the editor of The Guardian. This prestigious newspaper had published the article by Gustavo criticizing Obama’s Executive Order on immigration reform:

“… The only group of people smiling today are my conservative Latino friends, who have already been texting me photos of the two best presidential amigos that undocumented immigrants ever had: Ronald Reagan and George W Bush…

“Reagan famously endorsed a sweeping amnesty in 1986 that helped over 3m undocumented immigrants – along with his successor, George H Bush – offered protection from deportation to children and adults who didn’t qualify for amnesty but had a family member who did. That affected another 1.5m people.

“Reagan isn’t exactly up for sainthood in the Latino community – witness his dealings in Central America – but many Latinos of my parents’ generation will always respect him because he understood that mass deportations made no sense, and that undocumented migrants deserved to participate in the American dream – and that coming into this country “the wrong way” shouldn’t stop someone from having that chance.”

On immigration, Ramos and Gustavo well represent this mainstream issue for the majority of Latinos.  On other subjects they are as diverse as the people and issues.  Ramos’ coverage of Latin America affairs is characterized by his opposition to the Cuba and Venezuela regimes, which is his litmus test to consider whether Latin American leaders are genuine democrats. Even after the announcement of establishing relations with Cuba, one of the questions he asked to the US diplomat in charge of the negotiations was whether he addresses Raul Castro as Dictator or President.  His interviewing style can startle his guests, but some like the president of El Salvador have engaged him in feisty exchanges.  His distinction of democratic governments and economic development is criticized as supportive of the elites of Latin American countries.

Gustavo’s description of Reagan’s reform fails to mention the significant support provided by the Democratic Congress, or the impact of 9/11 on the management of borders.  At the local level, currently his position on crime and punishment is not one would expect in an alternative publication.  R. Scott Moxley’s coverage of Jesus Aguirre’s imprisonment is one of the lowest points of the OCW, as well as his criticisms of California courts as being too “lenient!”

The new congress intent on rolling back Obama’s executive order, including the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, has deepened the polarization of this issue. The debate had already verged on hate speech by some immigration opponents. The new OCGOP chairman, Fred Whitaker (right) may have – or should have – drawn positive lessons when the day laborers were an issue that brought a lot of attention to his city of Orange.  Let’s see whether he’ll continue the position of the previous chairman Scott Baugh, who had been moving toward accepting immigrants and comprehensive reform.

About Ricardo Toro

Anaheim resident for several decades. In addition to political blogging, another area of interest is providing habitats for the Monarch butterfly.