On "Al Punto": The Census and Mexican "Rocky"

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on October 5, 2009

The debate among advocates of illegal immigrants about participation in next year's census received pointed commentary on the Sunday morning Univision program, "Al Punto." The Spanish-language program also included an interview with the star of a new feature film about illegal immigrants that presents the same trajectory of triumph as Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky."

Previously, Al Punto host Jorge Ramos had aired competing voices in the census debate, which pits those who call for a boycott until Congress passes a sweeping legalization of illegal immigrants against those who say it would be self-defeating to avoid the census.

On Sunday, the discussion leaned heavily in one direction. A spokeswoman for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) called the boycott proposal "irresponsible and immoral." Meanwhile, Ramos observed: "The more Hispanics who are counted, with or without papers, the more economic benefits and political power the whole Latino community will have."

Ramos offered just this summary of the argument for a boycott: "We're not going to allow ourselves to be counted until there is an immigration reform ... .First legalize me, then count me."

NALEO's Erica Bernal-Martinez said census participation would assure better schools and roads and increased political power for Latinos. She said it would "ensure that members of Congress across the country ... pay attention to our issues (and) understand the importance of immigration reform."

In another segment, Ramos spoke with Mexican actor Kuno Becker, beloved as a star in telenovelas (Spanish-language soap operas) and in movies about a Mexican immigrant whose genius at soccer allows him to rise above poverty and discrimination. Now he is starring in the soon-to-be-released "From Mexico With Love," an English-language film about an illegal immigrant who suffers abuse and discrimination in the fields of Texas before finding vindication in the boxing ring.

Ramos initiated an interesting exchange about the rising violence and insecurity in their native country. Said Ramos: "All of us run the risk that if we go to Mexico, they'll kidnap us or a relative." He asked if Becker lived in fear of such an assault.

Said Becker, "Of course. One hundred percent. It gives me a profound sadness to see my country hijacked by violence."

Ramos then asked if such violence explains why Mexicans come to the United States.

Said Becker: "I think it is a very important reason for many people."