Sometimes watching cable news is a tiring endeavor. Seeing the same people yelling, the same old political arguments, and the same accusations can be wearying. Indeed, nowadays there is not actually much news in a cable news show. Instead it is mostly political entertainment.
This blogger has therefore taken to checking out the news on Univision; it is always interesting to get a different perspective than the old cable-news paradigm. While most news does not go outside America, for instance, Univision devotes a substantial amount of coverage to neglected Latin America.
Then there is immigration. Univision is very, very passionate about immigration. This is understandable, given that many of the anchors and much of the audience is composed of immigrants – people who have an profoundly personal stake in the immigration debate. The intensity of their coverage is unmatched even by Fox News.
Univision also does not play coy about whose side it is on. When the news anchors start speaking about SB 1070 – Arizona’s new, extraordinarily harsh anti-immigrant law – one can literally hear the outrage in their voices and see the disgust in their faces. This July was the “Month of Immigration,” and probably half of the news focused on American immigration, especially the latest anti-immigration measures being taken throughout the country.
Indeed, the network can be described as on a crusade to defend immigrants. From a special program titled “Nation of Immigrants” to commercials in which bland-looking bureaucrats urge Hispanics to vote (“don’t let others represent you”), Univision strides with fists raised straight into the immigration altercation. In one news investigation, a Univision journalist reported the story of a migrant farm-worker – who through extraordinary good luck and hard work managed to gain American citizenship. The report was titled “Si Se Puede.” Univision gave the guy a medal.
One wonders how much all of this works. Univision’s reporting, of course, arouses a politically weak constituency that would probably otherwise remain silent. Yet immigration reform also depends upon winning the support of white, suburban America – people who have little contact with immigrants and wish that “they” would stop speaking Spanish.
When Univision covers or helps encourage an immigration protest, this may do more to alienate these people than gain support. From the perspective of a person devoted to politics, a protest composed entirely of Latinos waving non-American flags and shouting in Spanish probably constitutes Fox News’ wet dream. Univision and other advocates of immigration have learned to wave the right flags. From what this individual has seen while watching Univision, they still have to work on yelling in English and getting enough white people to march with them.
On the other hand, perhaps nothing can be done to allay the opposition of white and suburban America. Indeed, the impression one gets most from Univision is that of a society under siege – with Univision as a lonely defender. America is becoming more and more hostile to its immigrants. One sees it in the ever-more conservative laws being passed – in Fremont, Nebraska or Arizona or numerous other states now attempting to copy Arizona. One sees it in the historically high number of deportations this last year, by the Obama administration. One sees it in the overcrowded detention centers housing immigrants, including children and mentally ill patients who are not able to get health care. One sees it in attacks on Latino-Americans in Long Island, or the list of undocumented immigrants released in Utah by a zealous conservative. One sees it, finally, in conservative attempts to change the Constitution so as to deny citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants.
Out of all the pro-immigration coverage in Univision, one report stood out in particular. The report focused on children – sons and daughters of undocumented immigrants who had the good luck to be born in the United States. Some were marching to Washington, attempting to gain a moratorium on deportations, for fear that their parents would be deported and they would be left effectively orphaned. This was exactly what had happened to one teenager who talked, crying as Univision interviewed him, about how deportations had broken apart his family. If things keep on going the way they are, there will be a lot more people like him.