Corporate Latino media has historically had a lot to say at the slightest indication of anything even remotely sounding like “anti-immigrant rhetoric”. That is, unless the immigrant is a conservative, in which case they appear to bite their collective tongues.
Case in point: a week has passed since Newsweek’s Adrian Carrasquillo published a story regarding Congresswoman Mayra Flores’ historic win in the recent special election to fill the vacancy in Texas’ 34th Congressional District, and on the upcoming November election in a redrawn seat. Most notable is how Congressman Vicente González, Flores’ November opponent, frames the difference between himself and Flores:
Responding to the message that Republicans, including Flores, are pounding on the airwaves claiming to be the Party of "God, family, country," Gonzalez said he supports those things as well, and sought to cast himself as the traditional Texan in the race, and Flores as an immigrant outsider.
"I believe in God, I'm a Catholic, I come from a patriotic family," Gonzalez said. "I wasn't born in Mexico, I was born in South Texas, the son of a Korean war veteran."
Gonzalez went further, using terms often viewed as Republican talking points against immigration policies supported by Democrats.
"I didn't come here through chain migration, I didn't come through asylum or amnesty or whatever," he said.
These remarks triggered a backlash on social media and on Spanish-language talk radio. Carrasquillo then wrote a follow-up item and elicited further clarification from González. But the clarification might have been as bad as the original remarks, if not worse:
In a text message, Gonzalez told Newsweek, "I'm not attacking her for being born in Mexico. I celebrate immigrants in this country. We all come from immigrants unless we're Native Americans."
He did take issue, he said, with the fact that he's running against someone who was born in Mexico "and is now against other immigrants coming."
"While she says she is for legal immigration, she has been less than honest about mentioning her family having the privilege of amnesty," he said, "and her being in this country through what Republicans like to call chain migration."
In her ads, Flores has repeatedly said her family emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 6 years old "the legal way."
But Gonzalez argues that now that she's "in the door" she wants to "close it behind her" for others just like her.
"South Texas Latinos have fought for equality for generations," he said, "and it's hurtful when a new immigrant who has taken advantage of this struggle has no respect for the generations who laid the path way before her arrival."
So not only does “real Texan” González attack Flores for being an immigrant, but he then tries to clean it up by saying that he was actually calling her out over her stance on immigration- which he did by coming really close to an accusation of race treason. Now, where’s the corporate Latino media on this? Because if an Anglo Republican had said that he was the “Real Texan” in a contested race against an immigrant from Burgos, Tamaulipas, Mexico, I guaran-dang-tee you that Univision and Telemundo run multiple A-block cycles on the story and would’ve led their newscasts with it on the day that Carrasquillo’s piece first ran.
“Anti-immigrant rhetoric” is their bread and butter. It’s what they do. Any rando yelling “speak English” at a Latino immigrant is virtually guaranteed three minutes on any Univision or Telemundo national newscast. Remember the outrage when Jorge Ramos got himself thrown out of candidate Donald Trump’s press conference in Iowa? Here’s how former Univision co-anchor Maria Elena Salinas reacted:
Jorge wanted a piece of Trump ever since that first speech where he announced his candidacy and said that Mexico sends criminals, drug traffickers and rapists over the border. In reality, most of us that work in Spanish-language media have wanted a piece of him (Trump), have wanted to question him and challenge him and show him that his statements are baseless. Moreover, that his words are the equivalent of a declaration of war against an important sector of American society. As in any war, an aggression against one of our own brings pride and nationalism to the surface. Insult Hispanic immigrants, with or without papers, and you insult all of us Hispanics. They are not alone.
Where is the rally to Mayra Flores’ defense? Where are the outraged opinion columns and A-block segments denouncing what is clearly, by Latino corporate media standards, “anti-immigrant rhetoric”? Is she not “one of our own” due to the R next to her name and thinks unauthorized thoughts on such matters as abortion or immigration?
I renew my call to Univision and Telemundo’s national news divisions. Live by the rules you've created and call out this blatant anti-immigrant rhetoric. Or forever stand complicit.