In New Interview to Launch His English Language Book, Influential Journalist Calls for Bold Action from President Obama, Congressional Democrats, and Republicans
Washington, DC – Univisión anchor Jorge Ramos is the most influential figure on Latino political issues to millions of Spanish-dominant voters throughout the country. In a new interview with America’s Voice Senior Advisor Maribel Hastings, Ramos expounds on his views about the politics of immigration, including highlighting his frustration over Washington’s failure to enact a lasting immigration solution and his assertion that “suing Arizona isn’t enough.” In important news for the midterm elections, Ramos says that Latinos are plagued by “disillusionment, frustration and a lack of hope” and while he acknowledges that the lack of action in Congress “is everyone’s fault,” Democrats and Republicans alike, Ramos points out that Democrats have more to lose with Latino voters.
The new interview, as well as the English-language release of Ramos’s book “A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto,” offer key insights into the fastest-growing demographic of swing voters in the country: Spanish-dominant Latinos. Below is a transcript of the interview, translated into English by America’s Voice:
By Maribel Hastings
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Jorge Ramos (http://jorgeramos.com) says that as long as Barack Obama fails to keep his promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform, Ramos will continue to remind him about it at every opportunity.
Ramos—the journalist, author and host of Noticiero Univisión— told America’s Voice that Latinos are plagued by “disillusionment, frustration and a lack of hope” because Obama “broke his promise.” And while he acknowledged that the lack of action in Congress “is everyone’s fault,” Democrats and Republicans alike, he pointed out that Democrats have more to lose with Latino voters.
“Voters hoped that—between the president and the Democrats controlling both houses (of Congress)—something would get done about immigration. That’s why they voted for them. So I suspect that the party that will suffer more damage will be the Democrats…and that the percentage (of Latinos) voting for the Democratic Party is going to decrease. Nobody forced Barack Obama to make that promise,” he added.
Ramos has just published the English-language edition of his book A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto, which details the contributions immigrants have made to this country and lays out the facts and figures that show why immigration reform is necessary for the United States. The Spanish-language version, under the title Tierra de Todos, was released last year.
Plenty of things have happened since then—but not the long-awaited reform. Instead, deportations have increased and Arizona has passed anti-immigrant law SB 1070, which the federal Department of Justice is now attempting to keep from going into effect.
“We hoped to release (A Country for All) during the debate over immigration reform,” he explained, ”but instead of reform we have SB 1070, and I thought that this was the right moment to publish it.”
In a speech last month, Obama reiterated his commitment to immigration reform—but this time he offered no timetable for action. A few days later, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Arizona over SB 1070, as well as an injunction to keep the law from going into effect on July 29th.
Ramos says these are welcome steps—but Latinos want comprehensive solutions.
“Nominating Sonia Sotomayor (to the Supreme Court) isn’t enough. And suing Arizona isn’t enough. They have to do something about the 11 million undocumented immigrants. It was a great speech, but we’re tired of speeches at this point. They have to go beyond words,” he said.
Ramos suggested that Obama missed an opportunity to use the speech to announce concrete changes in policy: suspending deportations of students and of the parents of United States citizens; endorsing the DREAM Act; convening a bipartisan summit on immigration; or even presenting an immigration bill of his own. “It was a great speech, but we need significant actions,” he concluded.
“Barack Obama broke his promise. We’re now 18 months into his administration and we haven’t seen anything concrete. There’s a lot of disillusionment among Latinos with the president, a lot of frustration, a lot of lost hope because it’s clear that nothing’s going to happen before November—and we don’t know how the balance of power will change in Congress after the November elections,” he added.
Ramos cited a recent Gallup poll showing that Obama’s support among Latinos has fallen 12%, from 69% in January to 57% in May. Among those interviewed in Spanish, support for the president has fallen 21%.
When asked who is responsible for reform having stagnated, he said, “I think that the blame lies equally on the President, Democrats and Republicans. Everyone is at fault.”
Democrats “didn’t take it on when they had 60 votes (in the Senate). I understand that we’re in the middle of two wars and an economic crisis, but if Obama promised to do this in his first year, they should have gotten it done when they had the votes,” he explained.
“But it’s also true that they had no support from Republicans. Where are the Republicans who voted for immigration reform three years ago? Where’s Lindsey Graham? Where’s John McCain, who told me when I interviewed him in 2008 that he supported a path to citizenship and referred to undocumented immigrants as ‘children of God’? This is why I think that the blame, unfortunately, lies on both sides.”
Ramos added that Republicans “had better make it up to Hispanics on the issue of immigration.” “If they don’t catch up on immigration, in the future Republicans will lose election after election. Republicans are not going to be able to get back in the White House without Hispanics,” he added.
Ramos said that he will continue to remind Obama “from all sides” that he hasn’t kept his campaign promise.
The irony, he said, is that Obama “broke his promise, but at the same time he’s the best ally we have at the moment.” “And of course, I’ll keep reminding him about it time and time again,” he declared.
Recently, he even had the chance to do it in person.
“During the state visit by the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, in the receiving line to greet the officials, I spoke to President Obama very briefly, and he told me—and I’m not quoting him verbatim here—‘How many times do I have to say that I support immigration reform?’ and I told him ‘As many times as it takes.’”
Maribel Hastings is a Senior Adviser and Analyst at America’s Voice.
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.