Jorge Ramos's Problem with President Obama

By Jerry Kammer on August 25, 2009

Jorge Ramos, the influential Miami-based co-anchor of the nightly newscast on the Spanish-language network Univision, has been broadcasting his disappointment with President Obama for not fulfilling a promise to deliver immigration reform during his first year of office.

The problem is that Obama never made such a promise.

For weeks, Ramos has been telling his nationwide audience that as presidential candidate, Obama promised in an interview last year -- with Ramos himself -- to deliver reform in the first year of his administration.

Others in the Spanish-language media have amplified the complaint.

An August 14 column in the newspaper "Hoy Chicago" quoted Ramos as expressing disappointment that Obama "is not fulfilling a promise that no one forced him to make."

The column appeared as Ramos was about to come to Chicago to promote his new book, "Tierra de Todos" (Land of Everyone). Ramos wrote the book to demand the sweeping legalization of illegal immigrants that Obama envisions in reform legislation.

But Univision's own translation of the May 28, 2008, interview in which candidate Obama allegedly made the promise makes clear that Ramos is distorting the president's words.

That translation quotes president Obama as offering a guarantee that during his first year as president a reform bill would be drafted "that I strongly support and that we will move forward as soon as we can."

In other words, Obama told Ramos that by the end of his first year in office, he would have a bill ready for congressional action. He clearly did not promise that such a bill would be passed.

Ironically, Ramos's own book disproves his claim of presidential bad faith. It quotes Obama promising Ramos that during his first year he would deliver "una propuesta migratoria" -- an immigration proposal.

Moreover, the synopsis on back cover of the book, presumably not written by Ramos, makes the important distinction. It notes that Obama promised that as president he would support an immigration reform.

That is a distinction that Ramos himself fails to make.

Meanwhile, the White House has designated Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to work with congressional leaders to craft a bill that they hope to have ready for House and Senate consideration by the end of the calendar year.

If that happens, Obama will have fulfilled the promise that he actually made, though not the promise that Ramos says he made.


If you enjoyed this blog, check out Impatience Mixed with Hope in the Spanish-Language Press and 'If Mexico had had an avalanche of foreigners so large'.