Jorge Ramos, Univision anchor and host of the public affairs program, “Al Punto,” said “I think Republicans are finally getting it,” regarding the power of the Hispanic vote. Ramos joined ABC News in a web exclusive before his appearance on the “This Week” roundtable on Sunday.
With immigration at the forefront of the national conversation this week, Ramos discussed how supporting immigration reform can help Republicans, as well as his career influences, violence in Mexico, his upbringing, and his own journey to American citizenship.
“After the election, when they realized their candidate didn’t get 30 percent of the Hispanic vote, they understand that really they can’t make it without the Hispanic vote. Actually, no one can make it to the White House without the Hispanic vote. And — unless Republicans support immigration reform, it’s going to be impossible for them to get a high percentage of the Latino vote. So I think Latinos will recognize if they support immigration reform, but if many of them continue rejecting the idea that immigration reform is needed, it’s going to be very difficult for them to get the Hispanic vote and they’re going to lose the next election, and the next, and the next.”
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How did your upbringing influence where you are today?
“I was born in Mexico City. I am the first of four brothers and my sister Lourdes. And back then in Mexico, when I grew up it was very difficult to practice journalism because there was a lot of censorship — government censorship. So when I decided to become a journalist, I wanted to be a free journalist. I didn’t want to be censored. And that’s exactly the reason why I came here to the United States. Makes a lot of sense to be in this country and say the things the way I see them. Otherwise, I would have stayed in Mexico.”
Was the process of becoming an American citizen difficult for you?
“It was. A long process…I came as a student. And I thought it was gonna be only one year. And after one year I got a job at the Univision television station in Los Angeles. After that I became an anchor and one year has become almost 30 years. Of course, I became a US citizen and I’m very proud of that. But it was a long, long process. And I can just imagine what happens with those who are undocumented who come here and their path is much more difficult than what it was for me. My only desire is that this country treats new immigrants the same way and with the same generosity that it treated me.”
Will Mexico ever be safe?
“Well, right now it’s very difficult. We have to remember in the last 6 years with President Felipe Calderón, more than 65,000 people died. And as long as we have a drug war, in which the United States is consuming so many drugs, and you have all these drugs coming from Central and South America to the United States through Mexico, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for Mexico to be safe…This is also a problem for the United States. The United States has to cooperate with Mexico in that sense. But I don’t think it’s going to happen very soon, because we have millions of people who are still consuming drugs in this country. And there’s a lot of corruption in Mexico. Drug lords are incredibly powerful in Mexico. So it is not a problem that is going to be resolved any time soon.”
What American TV anchors did you admire when you were considering a career in broadcasting?
“Peter Jennings was the perfect anchor. Always in control. He knew what he was talking about. Well-traveled…he could talk the same about the United States and Mexico or about Iraq and Iran. Ted Koppel was fantastic. Ted Koppel…he knew…that he had to ask the tough questions. And I always like that kind of journalism, where you don’t allow anyone just to come here and say whatever he wants. He was tough, to the point, never wavered. I like both of them very much.”
Have you ever considered working for a large English-language news organization where your perspectives on Mexico and Latin Americans could reach a wider audience?
“I love what I’m doing right now, but as you know, there’s a joint venture with ABC News. So obviously we’re coupling much more with ABC, so I’m getting the best of both worlds.”