Hannity Ramos
Jorge Ramos of Fusion speaks on Sean Hannity's Fox show. While Trump's immigration plan sparked the discussion, anchors quickly flushed out a larger ideological split. Fox News / YouTube

“I think everything about Donald Trump’s immigration plan is wrong,” Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos told Fox News anchor Sean Hannity on Monday. The ten minute back-and-forth served as a snapshot into the immigration reform debate that has become the central issue in the 2016 presidential election. Last November, Barack Obama instituted a number of aggressive policies that shield the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants from deportation. Accusing him of legislating from the White House, Republicans have sued over the immigration policies and even threatened a government shutdown. Yet the schism between Jorge Ramos and Sean Hannity is bigger than political maneuvers, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, or the bullet points in their policy proposals. In fact, Jorge Ramos’ first mention of Donald Trump was practically his last. The true substance of his debate with Hannity? An ideological divide over the meaning, purpose and implementation of the law.

“You don’t believe in the rule of law. You care about people who don’t respect our laws. You don’t care about American sovereignty,” Hannity said to Ramos, who advocated for comprehensive immigration reform.

“Of course I do,” Ramos responded. “I do believe in the rule of law. But we have to recognize that they fact that they are here is because there are thousands of American companies hiring them [...] because there are Americans also breaking the law.”

If Ramos adds something new to the discussion for Fox News viewers, it is that idea there is no “us and them” in the immigration debate. Unauthorized immigrants have broken immigration laws, employers have broken them too, and in the mean time consumers have benefited from cheap labor. In Ramos’ world view, we’re all in it together and need to find a solution that is pragmatic, even if it requires a new set of laws.

Hannity argues that American workers are the real victims. Like many of the presidential hopefuls currently trekking along the long campaign trail, Hannity sees immigrant jobs as something that they take away from us. For Hannity, comprehensive immigration reform let’s the robbery of Americans’ privilege go unpunished. Why, he asks, is it unreasonable to prioritize deporting the 11 million immigrants in the country when they are taking our jobs?

“That is what a lot of countries do. That is what Mexico does, that is what Australia does. America is the only dumb country that leaves its borders wide open, and hit has transformed our economy,” Hannity said.

“Quite the opposite. It’s a great country when in the declaration of independence it says ‘All men are created equal.’ That’s the whole point, isn’t it?” Ramos responded.

Liberal, multinational Ramos advocates American exceptionalism. Hannity says that the U.S. should be more like other countries. It’s a counterintuitive inversion. Usually, it’s liberals arguing that the U.S. should be more like Norway and conservatives saying we should be like America (or a 1950s version of it). In fact, it might be time to stop thinking of immigration in terms of liberal and conservative, with Bernie Sanders arguing that immigrants take American jobs, and Jeb Bush wanting to expand a worker visa program.

Yet in a more typically partisan fashion both anchors find their True North on the topic of “lawbreaking.” Ramos sees forcing migrants to pay a fine and normalize their tax status as a reasonable solution. Hannity opposes comprehensive immigration reform because it “supports” immigrants in the country illegally.

“So you support lawbreaking? Answer my question: do you support rewarding the law breaking of those people?”

“Of course I do not,” Ramos said

“Sure you do; if [immigrants] get to stay then we reward lawbreaking,” Hannity said.

“It is hypocritical to say that you want the rule of law and at the same time, the American system, the American immigration system is so broken that everyone is breaking the law.”

Hannity did not respond to Ramos’ hypocrisy charge. It is interesting that punishing employers is always low on the list of priorities for immigration crackdowns. The certainly didn’t make the list of Trump’s immigration reform bucket list (or Bernie Sanders', or Jeb Bush's). Trump has committed his own violations. As a businessman, the real estate moguls employed immigrants present in the country illegally. At the time, he said he wasn’t aware, and years later, he said that he couldn’t be sure if he still did. To Trump and Hannity supporters, the businessman’s crimes may seem unintentional or a product of the system. To Ramos, it is the immigrants who are responding to market pressure, even if the decision to climb a wall or overstayed a visa is clearly a deliberate act.

What’s right? What’s pragmatic? What’s fair? Donald Trump has pushed these questions into the forefront of the debate. And his most loudly touted solution, a border wall, persists as a litmus test in the entire immigration debate. Prioritize it, and you're stuck with Hannity. Mock it, and you’ve found yourself in the Ramos camp.

“A wall is not a solution,” Ramos declared.

“I believe it is,” Hannity responded.

You can watch the full exchange below.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.