Telemundo Launches New Program with Look at Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, April 19, 2010

Telemundo, a Spanish-language TV network, had a big day on Sunday. Not only did it introduce a new Sunday public-affairs program with a spirited discussion of immigration, but the program's anchor was also a participant in the roundtable discussion of NBC's Meet the Press. Both Telemundo and NBC are owned by General Electric.

Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz-Balart chided President Obama for not fulfilling his promise made during the 2008 presidential campaign to roll out an immigration reform proposal during his first year in office. "Words matter. We haven't seen it," said Diaz-Balart, whose brothers Lincoln and Mario are Republicans representing Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Diaz-Balarts are members of a prominent Cuban-American family. Their father Rafael was an early leader of opposition to Fidel Castro. Their aunt Mirta was Castro's first wife.

The new Sunday program is "Enfoque" (Focus). Yesterday it focused on immigration reform, leaving no doubt that it will aggressively support the expansive package of proposals known as "comprehensive immigration reform."

Diaz-Balart interviewed Gustavo Torres, an Hispanic leader in Maryland, who credited last month's massive march for immigration reform in the nation's capital with forcing Congress and the White House to engage on the issue. Torres said that unless an immigration reform bill has been introduced by the end of April, Latinos will escalate the pressure.

First, he said, they would again march on Washington. Then, if Congress and the Obama administration still haven't moved on immigration reform, they would engage in acts of civil disobedience.

"We are learning what our African-American brothers and sisters did in their struggle for civil rights," Torres said. "When politicians who have made promises don't do what they said they would do, we are going to pressure them. In a civil manner, but we are going to escalate this struggle."

Another guest was Cecilia Munoz, longtime immigration activist and former National Council of La Raza vice president, who now works in the Obama White House. Facing repeated questions from Diaz-Balart about the administration's enforcement of immigration laws, Munoz said the administration is emphasizing investigations of employers who hire illegal workers rather than the workers themselves.

But Munoz did not give Diaz-Balart a promise that enforcement raids would be stopped. "The president can't say we are not going to enforce the law," she said. "But the law is broken and we have to change the law."