“There’s a lot to celebrate tonight,” Telemundo anchor José Díaz–Balart declared during Telemundo’s special coverage of President Obama’s Nov. 20 announcement of unilateral executive actions that include lifting the threat of deportation for 4.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, along with eliminating the Secure Communities program of federal, state and local cooperation in the enforcement of U.S. immigration law that was launched during the administration of President George W. Bush.
Like his Univision counterpart Jorge Ramos also frequently does on the issue of immigration, the Telemundo anchorman essentially swung into “advocacy” mode during a special post-speech Telemundo segment analyzing the President’s latest actions. “This is not amnesty,” Díaz-Balart repeated twice, saying the President’s actions do not constitute “amnesty” for the targeted unauthorized immigrant beneficiaries because the “deportation relief” given by Obama is temporary in nature (for three years) and does not provide permanent legal residency or U.S. citizenship.
Díaz-Balart’s co-anchor, María Celeste Arrarás, made similar statements in support of the President’s actions, saying the beneficiaries of Obama’s decree “deserve everything that has been done today.” Díaz-Balart and Arrarás were joined by Telemundo Washington correspondent Lori Montenegro who, when asked by Arrarás if the President’s speech had achieved the goal of justifying his actions to the American people, responded that it had.
In addition, the segment featured coverage of celebratory community viewings of the President’s speech in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Salinas, California. The only opponents of the President’s actions included in these reports were people who thought the President should have included even more categories of unauthorized immigrants in his deportation relief initiative.
Telemundo’s anchors were briefly joined in studio by Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) and Republican analyst Adolfo Franco. Franco questioned the legality of the President’s actions and pointed out that the President’s policies had been rejected by the American people during the recent mid-term elections. In response, Gutiérrez once again sought to delegitimize the election results, charging that the Republicans had “won the elections with lies.”
Former Obama White House aide Luis Miranda was also called in to defend the President’s position on Telemundo, as was the National Council of La Raza’s Clarissa Jiménez and veteran activist Eliseo Medina, a former honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Besides Adolfo Franco, the only other identifiable opponent of the President’s actions featured during the segment was Díaz-Balart’s brother, Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), who lamented that by his actions the President had undermined the rule of law in the United States. “What exists here is the rule of law, because the law governs, not a man or woman, the law,” concluded the Congressman.