A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto.
Jorge Ramos (translated from the Spanish by Erza Fitz)
New York, NY
Review DOI 10.1108/19355181211217670
Most readers of this journal probably have not heard of Mexican-born journalist Jorge Ramos [...] but he leaves his imprint on nearly two million Americans on a nightly basis as the anchor for Univision's Spanish language nightly news. For Americans age 18-34 (in November 2011), Jorge Ramos is the second most watched news anchor after NBC's Brian Williams (Weprin, 2011). A 2010 nationally representative poll of Hispanics identified Jorge Ramos among the top four "most important Latino leaders in the country today" along with US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (of Illinois), and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Taylor and Lopez, 2010).
Mr Ramos came to the USA after a dispute with his Mexican television employer (Televisa). Televisa had censored his third story as he was just embarking on his journalism career. Disappointed, Ramos left Televisa and Mexico and headed to the USA in 1983 on a student visa and quickly found employment as a waiter and a cashier to make ends meet. With a college education earned in both Mexico and the USA, Jorge Ramos eventually made it back into television in 1985, this time in the USA. By 1986 Mr Ramos became the news anchor for Univision (at only age 28) where he remains today. Uniquely, Mr Ramos has interviewed Latin American leaders Fidel Castro, Felipe Calderon, and Hugo Chavez and US presidents Obama, Bush (41) and Bush (43), and Clinton. Now, Jorge Ramos is a naturalized US citizen, married with children, living (and fully participating in American life) in the USA, but with familial roots that cross borders.
I believe this brief author introduction offers context to the book, A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto, which focuses on the Latino. Ramos authored this book "to make the invisible visible and to give voice to the voiceless" (p. xvi). Hispanics are numerically the largest minority population in the USA at over 50 million people (16.3 percent of the total population) and Univision is the number one provider of news and entertainment in Spanish in the USA. While America is historically a nation created by (and of) immigrants, oftentimes those Americans whose families immigrated in the (sometimes distant) past forget the immigrant experience is part and parcel of the American story. And when economic times get tough, it may be easy to strike out against the undocumented who are vulnerable and foreign as an easy scapegoat. Prosecution and deportation become the magic elixir that re-establishes prosperity. This is wrong, cruel, and foolhardy.
This is wrong because the undocumented make American lives much easier; "without them our lives would be much less comfortable" (9. 5). This is cruel because the undocumented live in the shadows, invisible to most, fearful that the next encounter may split their families. This is foolhardy because so many undocumenteds contribute much to the fabric of America (see Pisani article on undocumented entrepreneurship in this issue). Also it is impossible to remove the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the USA, the future face of America will be increasingly Latino.
Ramos identifies six elements he believes represents common ground within the immigrant debate continuum. These elements or basics assumptions are:
(1) that current immigration policy is broken and is in desperate need of repair; (2) that nobody is in favor of undocumented immigration (not even the undocumented immigrants themselves); (3) that the US--like any country--has the right to defend its borders and establish a policy of who is allowed in and who is not; (4) that there is absolutely no justification for the ongoing death of countless immigrants in the regions along both sides of the border; (5) that US policy should not break apart families; and (6) that it is impossible to deport every single undocumented immigrant, which is why we must find a realistic option for those who are already here (p. xx).
The bulk of Ramos' work deals with why reform of the current immigration system is necessary. It is filled with selective immigration vignettes, policy makers, and history from a bi-national vantage point inclusive of Mexican and American views. A few points deserve elaboration. Ramos discusses the ramification of the 2008 Latino vote in the presidential election. He argues that President Obama "owes" Latinos for assistance particularly in electoral victories in New Mexico, Nevada, Florida, New Jersey, and Colorado. Ramos states, "The 2008 Hispanic vote wasn't free. It demanded something very important in return: the promise that the invisibles will be brought into the light" (p. 23), a promise not kept by President Obama. Even the most supported and least controversial immigration legislation reform, the DREAM Act (aimed at undocumented minors at time of arrival who are in good standing via educational attainment or military service), has yet to be passed and signed into law.
Ramos also suggests that a future Hispanic president has already been born in the USA and may be currently enrolled in grade school. Based on the Latino demographic shift in America and the increasing influence of Hispanics at the polling booth and marketplace, Latinos may soon be a majority minority in several key Western states not only in population, but in various walks of life. Ramos believes, "If anything characterizes the USA, it's the promise that every single one of us will be treated equally" (p. 25). This premise of equality in America, in Ramos' view, maintains hope for Latinos of a better present and future.
The manifesto that Ramos advocates rests on four pillars. First, words matter. Ramos argues people are not inherently illegal, but rather undocumented. Second, America needs to legalize undocumented workers already present in the USA and provide a pathway to citizenship (though the legalization process should include a monetary penalty). Third, America should better integrate present and future immigrants (including a work program) into the social and economic fabric of the USA. Lastly, the USA should view the engagement with immigrants and sending nations within a long term perspective where a rapprochement with Latin American governments and peoples is sorely missing.
This book is an insightful look into the immigration dialogue from one who has experienced immigration from the inside out. Jorge Ramos came as a Mexican immigrant to the USA and succeeded in achieving the American dream. In his news reporting career, he reports on immigration from the outside looking in as one of the most influential leaders of the Latino community today. His views are important, if not prescient. Policy makers at the local, state and federal levels should read this book. Americans wanting to learn more about immigration from a Latino perspective should read this book.
Michael J. Pisani
Professor of International Business, Central Michigan University
Taylor, P. and Lopez, M.H. (2010), National Latino Leader? The Job Is Open, Pew Hispanic Center, November 15, available at: www.pewhispanic.org/2010/11/15/ national-latino-leader-the-job-is-open/ (accessed November 20).
Weprin, A. (2011), "Younger viewers tuning out the evening news? Not at 'Noticiero Univision'", December 2, available at: www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/ younger-viewers-tuning-out-the-evening-news-not-at-noticiero- univision_bl00815#more-100815 (accessed January 1, 2012).
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|Author:||Pisani, Michael J.|
|Publication:||American Journal of Business|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2012|
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