Once again, Univision has shifted into full-activist mode by engaging in an all-platform push in support of the preservation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (aka, DACA). In so doing, the network continues its practice of operating in a manner more consistent with a special interest lobbying firm than that of a national news media outlet.
This is nothing new for the nation’s leading Spanish-language network. Univision went all-out for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in 2016, both in front of and behind the cameras. As we reported back then, the network was relying on a Clinton win in order to secure two specific types of regulatory relief: immigration relief and FCC approval of a foreign-ownership rule change that would allow Mexican giant Televisa to acquire up to 49% of Univision. Univision received a consolation prize after Clinton lost the election, specifically, the FCC rule change - which was passed by Obama’s FCC in the dead of the transition and over the New Year's holiday.
The remaining piece of regulatory relief with which Univision can mitigate declining viewership is, of course, on immigration. Senior news anchor Jorge Ramos said it himself back in 2015: U.S. Spanish-language TV needs a steady, uninterrupted annual inflow of between 1.5-2 million immigrants, majority Spanish-dominant, “legal or otherwise”, in order to survive. Any attempt to bring serious, unflinching law and order to the country's broken immigration system was always going to be met with ferocious resistance.
Back to DACA: below are key excerpts from Univision CEO Randy Falco’s statement, issued after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the sunsetting of DACA:
"The U.S. government is revoking the ability of roughly 800,000 DREAMers to continue to work and contribute in countless ways to the United States – the only home they have ever known. This is a failure to live up to a commitment already made to DREAMers and is contrary to America’s values and traditions.
Let’s be very clear – DREAMers are our students, soldiers, first responders, coworkers, neighbors, and friends. Here at UCI we will continue to stand by them, including those talented DREAMers working at our company to advance our mission of entertaining, informing, and empowering the Hispanic community and the rising American mainstream we serve. Their stories are unmistakably American. They deserve better than this.
This is a call for Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to enact meaningful immigration reform that takes into account those who were brought here as children and are raising their hands to learn, to serve, and to work should be allowed to legally remain in the U.S.
The American values of hard work and commitment have led millions of immigrants to the United States in search of opportunity. These values are embodied by DREAMers. It is time to permanently protect the DACA program."
Large numbers of Americans tend to agree with the thrust of Falco’s statement, and support a permanent, congressional fix for these individuals brought illegally into the country through no fault of their own. But DACA is merely the tip of the immigration spear to Univision and the rest of the immigration lobby that supports a “whole-enchilada” approach to immigration reform - a means with which to achieve the full end game.
To their credit, Univision will pick up the tab for legal costs of any DACA-related litigation for their employees. It is the very least that the network could do after helping put these individuals in this precarious position by championing and cheerleading an executive action that effectively disregarded the nation's duly established laws.