Latino Media to White House: Immigration Reform Now

11/20/2012, 11:44 a.m.

President Obama announced last week that he expects Congress to propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill in early 2013. Last Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced renewed talks to bring back their own immigration reform bill. Immigration reform may be retaking center stage in national media, but in the country's Spanish-language newspapers, radio and TV programs, it has been the lead story for years.

Latino media are again taking the lead in the push for comprehensive immigration reform. The day after President Obama's re-election, an editorial in the Los Angeles-based Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion argued that Obama "owes" it to Latinos.

The election, editors write, showed that Obama's reelection was made possible thanks to the Latino vote, which can no longer be ignored in the path to the White House.

"Obama owes Latinos a debt," the editorial argues. "We hope that the White House proposes an immigration bill and that GOP lawmakers take the opportunity to earn brownie points with the Latino community with a reasonable, positive law."

Editors contend that the Republican Party needs to support immigration reform in order to gain back the votes of Latinos.

"The question," they write, "is whether the GOP understands that it needs to adapt how its message is communicated, and in part also the content, to recover the ground lost among Hispanics. Passing comprehensive immigration reform in Congress would be a good step in that direction."

Univision anchor Jorge Ramos makes a similar argument in a column titled, "How to Lose an Election," writing that Republicans must lead the effort for immigration reform in 2013.

The future of the GOP, he says, depends on it.

"As the party moves forward," Ramos writes, "it needs to rally behind more moderate members like Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and a potential presidential candidate in 2016, who supports immigration reform and knows that without Hispanics, the GOP's future looks grim. Those Republicans who would prefer to carry on as usual need to take a hard look at the numbers ... If Republicans don't reach out to our community, their party is doomed."

Gaps and Failures

The way Rodrigo Cervantes, editor of Atlanta-based Mundo Hispanico, explains it, his newspaper, like many other Latino media, "has documented the gaps and failures of the current immigration system and how it has affected different communities and people -not only immigrants, and not only undocumented immigrants."

A Nov. 8 editorial in Philadelphia's Spanish-language newspaper Al Dia, for example, looks at the limits of the Obama administration's achievements, from health care to deferred action.

Al Dia's post-election editorial questions "why undocumented immigrants have been wholly precluded from purchasing -- with their own money -- coverage from insurers in your plan ... Further, we wonder why undocumented young adults who are granted deferred action will not be given the ability to purchase health insurance from ACA pools either."

Editors also wonder why Obama has failed to push for the DREAM Act, and ignored the pleas of Dreamers to issue an executive order to protect them. "And, no," editors note, "the deferred action you penned isn't anything comparable to an executive order, no matter how many times it is carelessly referred to in that way."