This week, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos was honored at the Time 100 gala as one of the most 100 influential people in the world. Ramos delivered a passionate speech which paid tribute to immigrants — and DREAMers, in particular.
“It is very difficult to be an immigrant because you have to leave everything,” Ramos, an iconic staple in Spanish-speaking households across the U.S., said. “You leave your home, your family, your friends, your culture, your language, sometimes your soul.”
Ramos ended his speech with a toast to DREAMers, whom he called “my real heroes”:
“You know, they are young, undocumented students who came to this country when they were very young. They were brought here as children, or as babies, by their parents through no fault of their own.
Because Congress has done absolutely nothing in the last decade on immigration, the DREAMers decided to take this on themselves. So now they are changing immigration policy in this country. And you don’t want to be their enemy. I mean, they get in your face. And DREAMers, they are really American citizens, but they don’t have a paper to prove it. And not only that, there are many politicians, and many Presidential candidates, who want to deport them.
So here’s a, just a quick note, a word of advice to all political candidates and Presidential candidates: Latinos and Millennials will decide the next election, and Latinos won’t vote for any candidate who wants to deport your father and your mother, your friends, your neighbors, and young students.”
Ramos, who has been called the “Voice of Latino Voters” by English-language media, has earned the trust of Latinos not only through fierce personal advocacy (recently declaring “immigrant rights are human rights”), but by calling out both Democrats and Republicans for recent failures to pass immigration reform.
Last summer, Ramos famously cornered Speaker Boehner during a press conference for stalling on a House floor vote (“Me, blocking?” Boehner sheepishly giggled), and late last year, Ramos confronted an irked President Obama for record deportations and failing on his campaign promise to pass reform during his first term.
While President Obama eventually did act on immigration, Republicans currently face an uphill battle into the 2016 Presidential election following years of anti-immigrant rhetoric and votes.
In a recent Fusion piece, Ramos warned Republicans that the booming and relentless Latino demographic simply will “not support a candidate, or any policy, that vilifies immigrants” (the piece is available for reading in it’s entirety here).
“Remember what L.B.J. said, ‘When you lose Walter Cronkite, you’ve lost the war’?” said Matthew Dowd, a campaign adviser to George W. Bush, recalling the oft-cited if disputed story that President Lyndon B. Johnson said he lost “middle America” when Cronkite turned against the Vietnam War. Among Latino voters, Mr. Ramos has the sort of influence and audience that Cronkite had more broadly among Americans in his day.
Mr. Ramos is “not only a journalist, he’s become the voice of the Latino constituency,” Mr. Dowd said. “And that’s where Republicans have to worry — you don’t want to lose Jorge Ramos.”
It’s fact Republicans can’t afford to lose Jorge Ramos. Once you’ve lost Jorge Ramos, you’ve lost Latinos. As Ramos writes in his Fusion piece:
In a tight election, it is Latino voters who will likely choose the next president. Just look at the numbers: in 2012, Obama beat Republican candidate Mitt Romney by a little over 5 million votes. Next year, an estimated 16 million Latinos are expected to vote, more than enough to pick the winner. Will they cast their ballots for someone who thinks that deportation is a solution for the 11 million undocumented people living here? Doubtful.
Only time will tell if Republicans listen.