With this week's launch of Fusion, the TV joint venture between ABC and Univision, it will be interesting for English-speaking audiences to be exposed to Jorge Ramos's full-throated advocacy for illegal immigrants.
The current issue of Tiempo Latino, the Spanish-language weekly owned by the Washington Post, offers a fresh example. It includes a column by Ramos (a Mexican-born journalist and anchor on Univision) that laments the tragic deaths of illegal immigrants in their attempt to cross the border in remote harsh desert terrain – often led and then abandoned by smugglers called coyotes – and succumb to hyperthermia or dehydration or other gruesome forms of death.
Ramos calls these deadly corridors the migrants' "ruta de la muerte," their "route of death." He proposes a simple solution, which can only be provided by Congress. He writes:
There they have to do two things: first, legalize the millions of migrants who are already here and, second, establish a system of visas and residency so that no one has to take the route of the coyotes.
Ramos says the House of Representatives should pass the Senate bill. Yet his two-part proposal offers no support for the bill's provisions intended to stop future illegal immigration.
Under the Ramos formula, future illegal immigration would be abolished because everyone who wanted would get a visa and the right to live and work in the United States.
Ramos expresses no concern for effects on American labor markets and wages, or strains on social services, or the widening of the national divide between rich and poor. Yet he presents himself and his Univision colleagues as "the voice of those who have no voice."
The Los Angeles Times recently called Ramos "an unapologetic proponent for immigration reform."
But the reform Ramos wants is far different from what the Senate has passed. His stance is absolutist. He is a 100-percenter. He believes the U.S. has the duty to accept all those who want to come here. He claims that unless we do we are being hypocritical and inhumane.
As he told Time magazine:
The Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal, but right now millions of men and women in Arizona and in other parts of the U.S. are not being treated as equals, and I can't believe that. Countries are judged by the way they treat the most vulnerable, and the most vulnerable population in the U.S. right now is undocumented immigrants.
Ramos's advocacy of open borders and his outrage at migrants' deaths are widely shared in his native Mexico, as former U.S. ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow wrote in The Bear and the Porcupine, his book about U.S.-Mexico relations:
On some level, Mexican public opinion regards migration to the U.S. as a fundamental human right. Arguments that the migrants themselves bore some responsibility for the injuries or deaths that might befall them because they infringed on U.S. law or did not use common sense in choosing their routes carried no weight at all.
Davidow told the story of invoking what he calls "the most famous phrase in the Mexican historical lexicon" as he addressed a group of Mexican editors, business leaders, and government officials on American concerns about illegal immigration:
I reminded the group that "respect for the rights of others," as Benito Juarez had said, "is peace." (Respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz). I suggested that, as opinion leaders, the attendees might consider using their positions to encourage their countrymen to respect American rights and laws and not to enter the United States without the appropriate permission. One female member of the audience, a high-ranking member of the Foreign Ministry, became nearly apoplectic. My use of her national hero's words to America's advantage offended her. I thought she was going to come after me with a butter knife. Not surprisingly, I did not receive any support from other members of the audience. Not that day, not ever."
Ramos became a U.S. citizen in 2008. But far from respecting the right of his new country to stop illegal immigration, he demands that we dismantle laws intended to regulate the flow of newcomers.
With Fusion, he will have a new forum to state his case.