Univision has continuously failed to provide proper context to its audience when interviewing members of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), by omitting the fact that the group is an anti-immigrant “hate group” with ties to the nativist movement and white nationalism.
During a November 29 segment about FAIR’s hard-line anti-immigrant policy proposals on Univision’s Noticiero Univisión, anchor Jorge Ramos and correspondent Janet Rodríguez both helped mainstream the group by labeling it a “conservative organization that opposes undocumented immigrants” and a “conservative anti-immigrant organization.” By simply labeling the group as “conservative,” Ramos and Rodríguez failed to properly identify the group’s nativist origins and extremism while interviewing FAIR spokesperson Jack Martin:
JORGE RAMOS (HOST): A well-known conservative organization that opposes undocumented immigrants is preparing a series of recommendations for the future Donald Trump presidency. Among the suggestions there is the elimination of the deferred action program and increasing deportations. Janet Rodríguez spoke with a leader of this organization.
JANET RODRÍGUEZ: If Donald Trump promised to be strict against undocumented immigrants, the organization proposing to advise him on this topic is even stricter. Today, the directors of FAIR, a conservative anti-immigrant organization, put forward a series of recommendations that they're making to the new administration.
JACK MARTIN: We think they will find these recommendations very favorable.
RODRÍGUEZ: For the first hundred days of the administration the organization is proposing that the president eliminate deferred action, withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, restart workplace raids, and start building the wall.
MARTIN: Just being in the U.S. illegally should be enough for deportation.
RODRÍGUEZ: They say that during the first year the goal should be to limit reentry permits and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), eliminate the use of ankle monitors and conditional freedom, reviving the 287G program and the secure communities program. The plan is very similar to the one Kris Kobach, also an enemy of immigration reform, and who is looking to become the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. He has presented the plan to the president-elect. But these are just recommendations, and the organization recognizes that perhaps the president-elect and the new Congress will never approve a plan as harsh as they'd like it to be.
This is not the first time Univision has provided FAIR with a platform to air its extremism without providing necessary context. On November 17, the network also featured Martin’s point of view devoid of context.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), FAIR earned the “hate group” label because of its history of “defending racism, encouraging xenophobia and nativism, and giving its all to efforts to keep America white.” FAIR also accepted funding from the Pioneer Fund, “a group founded to promote the genes of white colonials” which also “funds studies of race, intelligence and genetics.” SPLC also noted that FAIR has hired people who are also members of “white supremacist groups” to its top posts and specifically promoted “racist conspiracy theories about Latinos.” The group’s founder, John Tanton -- a current member of FAIR’s national board of advisers -- has “expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population.”
In a July 22 report about the nativist influences on President-elect Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, The Daily Beast described FAIR’s work as an effort to “demonize immigrants" and explained that even conservative groups “loathe the Tanton network.” In addition the piece noted that before Trump, “these groups found themselves pushed to the margins of the conservative conversation of immigration.” Yet failures by the media to appropriately characterize groups like FAIR has allowed the group to pass as a mainstream conservative organization with a valid seat at the table in the immigration policy debate.
Spanish-language media has in the past failed to grasp the influence of white supremacy on anti-immigration sentiments. Regardless of whether the Trump administration implements FAIR’s policy proposals or not, providing hate groups with a platform could have an impact on rhetoric and negatively impact those affected by the immigration policies. As NPR’s Latino USA host pointed out in her coverage of virulent 2016 campaign rhetoric, “words are powerful; they can motivate people in good ways and bad.”