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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Maria Hinojosa Reflects On 20 Years Covering Latinos

Maria Hinojosa, is host of Latino USA, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. (Facebook)

Maria Hinojosa, is host of Latino USA, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. (Facebook)

Amid the continuing debate over immigration reform, one person who has been looking past the headlines is Maria Hinojosa.

She’s host and executive producer of the nationally syndicated public radio program “Latino USA,” which has been telling the stories of immigrants and Latinos for the past 20 years.

“The original impetus for this show was that Latino news was not being covered by the mainstream across the board,” Hinojosa told Here & Now. “We are central characters … These are basically American stories. So it doesn’t just matter to Latinos, it matters to everyone.”

Covering these stories for 20 years, it’s kind of sad that in many ways we are talking about the same things.
– Maria Hinojosa

Twenty years on, Hinojosa says the way Latinos are covered in the media continues to be problematic.

Latinos in the media

“It would be great to be able to say there’s been total and utter progress, but in fact, covering these stories for 20 years, it’s kind of sad that in many ways we are talking about the same things,” Hinojosa said.

She calls America’s relationship to Latinos the “U.S. Mambo,” meaning Latinos take one step forward but two steps back.

“On the one hand we have huge stars in the mainstream — everybody knows them — big success stories,” Hinojosa said. “[But] Latinos have the fastest growing prison population, and the fastest growing population detained in immigrant detention centers, and a spike in hate crimes against Latinos.”

These “mixed messages,” as Hinojosa calls them, are most apparent in the national conversation about immigration.

Immigration reform

Immigration policy under discussion is currently based on securing the border, but it does not focus on the 11 million people living in the United States without documents, Hinojosa said.

“Even with immigration reform, those numbers of 400,000 people being deported every year will continue, if not increase,” she said. “That insecurity people are living with, and think might go away with immigration reform, will not. And it could get worse.”

Hinojosa says the way the United States treats undocumented immigrants says more about its values than the immigrants who come here.

“For our country that has based itself as an immigrant country, what does this mean about who we are?”




Well, there are a couple of weeks left until Congress comes back to Washington, and it appears that the earful members of Congress are getting from constituents at home has more to do with the Affordable Care Act than immigration reform. In fact since the August recess began, several House Republicans have come out in favor of a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants here illegally.

There will be a race to get something passed when lawmakers return before the focus on Washington shifts to the 2014 elections. Now we've heard from many different voices on this program about the prospects for immigration reform, but our next guest has spent the last 20 years telling the stories of Hispanics in America. She is Maria Hinojosa, the host and executive producer of the weekly NPR show, LATINO USA, which looks at issues through the lens of Latinos in America.

Maria, thank you for joining us, and tell us first how the big issues have changed for Latinos in the last 20 years.

MARIA HINOJOSA, BYLINE: Whoa, well, in 20 years of covering Latinos in the United States, well, a lot has changed, and a lot hasn't. And that's really the sad part about it, Jeremy, because, you know, it would be great to be able to say oh, there's been total and utter progress, but in fact, covering these stories for 20 years, it's kind of sad that in many ways we are talking about the same things.

I mean, what I can tell you is that we have a huge fan base, dedicated because they know that we've been telling these stories that were often seen as Latino stories, and people I think now, after listening to our show for 20 years, have understood that yeah, we are, in fact, part and parcel of the American reality.

Big number for us in the last decade, 43 percent is the, you know, the last census report of the population growth of Latinos across the United States. That's huge. But at the same time among Latinos, you know, there is a sense that we're still, our story, our perspective, our - what we're living through, we're not so visible, which is kind of crazy because the original impetus for this show was that Latino news was not being covered by the mainstream across the board and not being covered within public media.

And that's why LATINO USA was born, but you still go out into the community, and there is this sense of, you know what, our stories are still not being told. So that's kind of 20 years in 30 seconds.

HOBSON: Well, there is one thing that is for sure, and that is there are a lot more Latinos in the U.S. now than there were 20 years ago. And yet you use the term the U.S. mambo when describing the way that politicians talk and deal with Latinos. Tell us what you mean by that.

HINOJOSA: Well, U.S. mambo, three steps forward, two steps back, (Spanish spoken) in Spanish. Yeah, it's - and it's not just politicians. It's in general. So what do I mean by this U.S. mambo? Well, we're a trillion-dollar market, you know, huge economic potential, buying power. More Latinos have been deported in the past 15 years than - you know, 10 years - than ever before.

On the one hand we have huge stars in the main stream, everybody knows them, big success stories. Latinos have the fastest growing prison population and the fastest growing population detained in immigrant detention centers, and a spike in hate crimes against Latinos.

So it's a sense of we're visible, we're kind of everywhere, and yet we're not. And among Latinos, it's funny, Jeremy. Sometimes when I'm out there, I'm talking to people, and it's like I'll say do you get this sense that, you know, it's like everybody loves Latinos, and at the same time everybody kind of wants them to just go away. And I know that it sounds flip, but there is this dynamic of a mixed message for Latinos.

And I think one, one little statistic that shows what the sense is that Latina teenagers, you know, these young women in their prime of adolescence, have the highest rate of attempted suicide in our country. So there is a wrath of depression, of sadness around identity and our role in this country that even that story we've covered on Latino USA, but it's not like it's a big story in the mainstream.

So it is, it's (Spanish spoken).

HOBSON: Well, one big test of this, of course, is going to be what happens with immigration reform. There's been a lot of hoopla saying that it's going to happen, it's got to get done this year, but we don't know. And I want to bring you back to a conversation that you had on the show in 2006 with Barack Obama when he was still the senator from Illinois. Let's take a listen.


SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I think it's easy to say, in theory, we're going to deport 11 million people. I think it's much harder to expect police officers to grab fathers from their children and unilaterally send them across the border.

HOBSON: A position that he still holds, but Maria, is there a chance, do you think, that immigration is going to get through? It's made it through the Senate, but the House looks like an uphill climb.

HINOJOSA: Well, it depends on what day you're asking me and kind of whether I woke up on what side of the bed. I mean, if I want to look at it, the glass half-full, there's a possibility that it could still happen. Glass half-empty is that, you know, critics are calling this, even if it does pass, immigration reform light.

It is heavily based on security, precisely along the border, where border crossings are basically at zero. So it is still a conversation, again like this U.S. mambo, which is on the one hand saying we need to do something about these, you know, 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country everywhere, but we're really just going to focus right now on what's happening on that border and building that wall.


HINOJOSA: And it's like, you know, there's so much laws - forget the human element of this. What's worrisome, and many economists are saying this, is what this is doing to our economy. If people had papers, they'd be buying houses, they'd be buying cars, they'd be sending their kids off to college. They'd be being more integral in the American economy.

And unfortunately, the truth is is that while then-Senator Obama said this precise thing, which it would be hard to expect police officers to grab fathers from their children and send them across the border, that is exactly the politic that this president has overseen, which was I think a big surprise for many people. And the fact that even with immigration reform, those numbers of 400,000 people being deported every year will continue, if not increase.

It's quite a bait and switch, which is that that insecurity that people are living with and think might go away with immigration reform will not, and it could get worse

HOBSON: We're talking with Maria Hinojosa, anchor and executive producer of Latino USA. We will continue our conversation after a break.


And Jeremy, it's interesting how she talks about the American mambo in terms of relations between Latinos and the country.


HINOJOSA: So listeners, let us know what you think about that. Do you agree that there is an American mambo regarding Latinos in America? Let us know at hereandnow.org. Back in a minute, HERE AND NOW.


HOBSON: It's HERE AND NOW, and let's get back to our conversation with Maria Hinojosa, anchor and executive producer of LATINO USA; that's NPR's weekly show that looks at the news from a Latino point of view. Maria, we were talking about immigration reform. You have been covering the stories of immigrants coming to this country over the last 20 years. How have those stories changed, and is there one that sticks out to you?

HINOJOSA: Well, I think what's happening is - you know, again, if you look at it glass half-full, American democracy is being reinvigorated, and a democracy not just by people who can vote but people who are engaged with our society, right? So one of the things that's happened is that young people, the DREAMers, these are young people who were brought here as children, who dream of going to school or serving in the military but can't because they're undocumented, they become increasingly more active.

And so one of the stories that we broke is a piece we call "Infiltrating Broward," and this is the Broward Detention Center in South Florida. And the piece that we did actually got in on the ground floor, when young DREAMers decided to challenge the detention of low-priority cases, in other words people who are not criminals.

And they decided to get themselves detained, even though they were all undocumented immigrants. So this is putting their lives on the line. And we drop into this story. Mohammed Abdullahi(ph) is prepping Viridiana Martinez just before she's going to get herself purposely detained, and let's take a listen.


MOHAMMED ABDULLAHI: Hey, on the legal side of things, don't (unintelligible) under any conditions.


ABDULLAHI: And if you think things are going south, then I don't know, I'm reconsidering, I want to talk to my (unintelligible), I want to talk to my (unintelligible), whatever, whatever, whatever, and then call me.


ABDULLAHI: You good?

MARTINEZ: Yeah, I'm gonna cry, so...

HOBSON: And Maria, when was this? What year was this?

HINOJOSA: It was 2012, as a matter of fact, just right around the corner. What's interesting to me, Jeremy, is, you know, there's a lot of talk, especially now as we're getting to the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, so much talk about where is civil rights, the movement in our country.

In fact, we, LATINO USA, believe that there is a civil rights movement that is taking place right now, and for many people like on "Mad Men," it's kind of just on the background, you know, you see it on the evening news, and maybe you know about it, maybe you don't, in fact it's a movement that is alive, and it's changing all of us, because any time that you have an engagement with the civil rights conversation or the human rights conversation, it applies to all of us who live in this country.

So - and then these young people are doing actions like what happened in Broward a couple of years ago, as well as what happened just a couple of weeks ago, when nine DREAMers again were purposefully detained in order to challenge the detention of immigrants now. They were released and their cases are pending for political asylum.

HOBSON: I went to South Florida and interviewed an immigrant who had just come here, who was still looking for that American dream. She had come from Venezuela. I wonder what your experience has been with new immigrants to this country in 2013, for example, compared with back 20 years ago.

HINOJOSA: Well, it depends what kind of immigrant. If they're an undocumented immigrant and they are new to this country and it's their first time, they're probably going to be in a rural or suburban part of the United States. That is very different than 20 years ago. Twenty years ago they were mostly coming to major urban centers. Twenty years ago the fact that Latinos, actually that Mexicanos were coming to New York was a big story. I covered that when I worked at NPR.

Now Mexicanos and Latinos are everywhere. They're in Wyoming, they're in Nebraska, they're in North Carolina, they're in Alaska, they're in Hawaii, they are everywhere. But if they're a new immigrant, the other thing that's different is that 20 years ago they were not looking over their shoulder at every moment expecting to be stopped by police and asked to present papers, and they were not being rounded up and deported and put in detention centers the way they're being rounded up now.

So a different dynamic, and again, for our country that's based itself as an immigrant country, what does this really mean about who we are, not those people who are coming but who we are and how we treat them as they come to our country?

HOBSON: Now, on a much different note, LATINO USA did a piece in 1993, 20 years ago, about the Latino characters on "Sesame Street." Tell us about that.

HINOJOSA: So almost everybody in our country knows about the married couple on "Sesame Street," Maria and Luis. In fact, they are the couple that people in real life happen to think that they are actually a couple, but they're not, they're just actors. And Maria from "Sesame Street" is an actress. Her name is Sonia Manzano, and she's actually a very prolific actress and writer.

And so we wanted to give this different perspective about Maria, who everybody knows as, you know, the mom on "Sesame Street," and we wanted her to tell us about the fact that she not only acts on "Sesame Street" but actually writes for "Sesame Street," and this was a segment that she had just written for the show.


SONIA MANZANO: I had the opportunity to write a show where Maria's family comes to visit, and I wanted everyone in Maria's family to be a different skin color because that occurs in a lot of Hispanic families, Puerto Rican especially, and actually have a puppet say, wow, but he's darker than you, how could he be related?

HOBSON: So a very different side of this mainstream show that we all know and love.

HINOJOSA: Exactly. We want to give that perspective. And in essence, again, this notion of Latinos are everywhere, we are central characters, whether it's "Sesame Street" or whether it's, you know, somebody who's running for office in your state, we are central characters, and at LATINO USA we make Latinos the central characters of our reporting. And again, these are basically American stories.

So it doesn't just matter to Latinos. It matters to everyone.

HOBSON: Maria Hinojosa is the anchor and executive producer of LATINO USA and president of the Futuro Media Group, 20 years of LATINO USA, and it's about to become an hour-long program, right?

HINOJOSA: We are so excited. Starting September 6, LATINO USA grows from being a half-an-hour show every week to an hour show. So look for it on your schedules. We're really excited. It's big news for us.

HOBSON: Maria Hinojosa, thanks so much.

HINOJOSA: Oh, my pleasure.

CHAKRABARTI: And before the break, there's an update on a story we brought you yesterday about the prison hunger strike in California. A federal judge has approved a request from prison officials to force-feed, if necessary, inmates who are striking. Officials say they are worried about inmates' health, but prisoner advocates say force-feeding would only further their suffering.

The strike is now in its seventh week, and people have been talking about it on hereandnow.org following our segment yesterday. That's when we heard from two people with very different views. Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, defended the Security Housing Units, which some call solitary confinement, that the prisoners are protesting against.

TERRY THORNTON: Certain inmates are housed in Security Housing Units because their conduct endangers the safety of others or the security of the prison.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, one of those inmates is Ronnie Dewberry, the brother of Marie Levin, who we also heard from.

MARIE LEVIN: I don't want him to die, but if him continuing in this fight for some kind of relief for himself and the other prisoners that are suffering under the same conditions, if that means that he needs to go forth and continue on, then I'm with him.

HOBSON: Well Meghna, we heard from a lot of listeners about this at hereandnow.org. One wrote: These men are not in solitary confinement because they stole a tricycle. They are hardened criminals who, due to their behavior, have been removed from society and for their further actions removed even from the other men in the prison. Their own behavior has dictated their confinement.

CHAKRABARTI: But Nick78 disagrees. When the U.S. has more prisoners than the gulags of Russia during the heyday of the USSR, things are definitely not right in the system, Nick78 writes. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this story or any other. Go to hereandnow.org.

HOBSON: You can also go to Facebook.com/hereandnowradio. We're also on Twitter, @hereandnow. I am @jeremyhobson.

CHAKRABARTI: And I'm #meghnawbur. Latest news is next, HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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  • M S

    This conversation is pretty one-sided. I’ll never understand how we are supposed to respect lawbreakers much less elect to make them fellow citizens.

    • lexpublius


  • NotSureHowToFeel

    I think the “mambo” goes beyond just politics dealing with Latinos; I think it extends to politics in general. We have two political parties. Whenever one party passes something, the other party will work to undo it. This gives us a net change of zero. Pretty sad state of affairs.

    • lexpublius

      Actually, the two-party system is a sham show. The USA left the Constitution long ago and became an Oligarchy. The best historical evidence of this was published in the book, A Still Small Voice: The Vatican, the USA, and Israel in Bible Prophecy by Fritz and Slaughter (you should check it out of your local library and read volume two chapters 6 & 7 on how the USA arose from free masons and secret society members).

      • NotSureHowToFeel

        Interesting, I will need to look into that. Thanks.

  • lexpublius

    Why don’t Latinos (illegal immigrants in the USA) spend as much time lobbying the corrupt Mexican Government for civil rights and reverse the existing drug-state that THEY ALLOWED THEIR NATIVE LAND TO BECOME.

    We don’t want them importing a culture of corruption here. American citizens have NO RIGHTS at all in Mexico (we are not allowed to own land, travel without vista, have licenses, vote, etc.)

    And if there is reform here in the USA, Mexico needs to reciprocate and allow equal rights for USA citizens in Mexico.

    • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

      Why should the human rights (life, liberty, property, etc.) of Mexican immigrants be subject to the whims of their native country’s government? Presumably they’re coming here partly because their own government sucks.

      Borders are artificial constructions: let them come if they can pay to live and work here. As I often tell my father, people who want to come to this country and work are not a problem!

      • lexpublius

        Borders are determined by God according to the Holy Bible, as explained in the book, A Still Small Voice: The Vatican, the USA, and Israel in Bible Prophecy by Fritz and Slaughter.

        The Spanish Conquistadors brought corrupt Roman Catholic priests to South America (including Mexico) during the 16th Century (1500s) who established a culture of corruption (bribery, lies, greed) that most natives have never been able to overcome.

        After Napolean’s war against Mexico, Mexico adopted a large portion of the USA’s Constitution when it re-organized itself — and civil rights were included.

        Then the drug lords arose during the 20th Century (mid to late 1900s).

        Because the priests had already established a way of life (culture of corruption) the drug lords found it easy to bribe public officials to look the other way while they continued growing their murderous ventures, killing innocent bystanders and subjugating entire towns to deal drugs.

        • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

          Really? I thought God was too busy determining the outcome of football games to bother with borders.

          • lexpublius

            Tim Tebow no doubt bought into the fake Catholic practices that all Protestant churches follow without knowing it is from the papacy.

          • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

            You might as well be speaking in tongues to me. I know almost nothing about religion, and could care even less.

          • lexpublius

            The Catholic Church invented the fake Greek version of Messiah called “Jesus,” then the papacy deleted the second Commandment against idolatry and claimed to change the Fourth Commandment to Sunday (instead of the seventh day, Saturday); and, claimed to change the Levitical feasts into Sunday, Christmas, Easter, All Saints, etc. That is the agenda of the Roman Catholic Church whose monarch has the 666 number. The REAL MESSIAH, upon Whom the fake Jesus is modeled, is named Yeshiyeh (a Hebrew name) and He is the One who died on the cross at Calvary; He kept the REAL Ten Commandments and the REAL Levitical holy days (holidays). Then the second beast of the Revelation (the USA) arose in 1789, adopted all the Roman Catholic holidays as “legal public holidays” between 1870 and 1983, and proclaims those holidays globally. Those holidays are the MARK of the first BEAST, the Vatican City State. The constitution of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) ratified in 1965 called “Vatican II” states that observing the RCC holidays constitutes WORSHIP directed to the Vatican City State which arose in the end time (1929) when it was created by Italian Dictator Mussolini signing the Lateran Treaty with the Roman Catholic Church. Next, you should go check out the book, “A Still Small Voice: The Vatican, the USA, and Israel in Bible Prophecy” by Fritz & Slaughter at your local library because it explains what is happening globally today and what will happen in the future. Since 2007, it has been right on target and nothing has debunked it. And if you really don’t care, I feel sorry for you.

          • Robert Thomas

            lexpublius, maybe you can answer this question, which has perplexed and worried me. Does the worshipful affection many upwardly mobile westerners show for polished granite kitchen counter surfaces amount to treating them as prohibited alters of hewn stone?

        • Naturalized Citizen

          If that were true, may be it is time for the US to return Texas, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and California to the holy land of Mexico ha ha

    • ytumamatambien

      you should read about all the white corrupt politicians who have gone to jail in Connecticut!

    • Medina-Merino

      Lexy…maybe it’s because not all Hispanic-cultured Americans (many you have been here for MANY generations) are NOT illegal, NOT brown, NOT Mexicans and NOT sneaking under the border to mow your lawn…I could be wrong.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    The way the guest is pronouncing words is unnecessarily distracting. E.g., there is a word in English for Mexicanos: “Mexicans”. I don’t call Germany “Deutschland” or China “Chung Kuo” when I’m conversing in English. I suppose it makes her sound more authentic to remind us that she presumably knows how to pronounce Spanish words, but to an English-speaking listener it is quite distracting.

    • prellmechanic

      Just another warning to us that ‘Latinos’ are here to stay, regardless of their residency status, and are content to (and intent on) speaking their own language, despite our national creed ‘e pluribus unum’.

      • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

        zOMG they might take over! Hide the silver!

        Culture follows people, not the other way around. Even if you live in a place where Latinos outnumber lily-white protestant mall ninja cracker pro-LEO pro-military NASCAR-lovin’ ‘Muricans, no one’s going to force you to speak Spanish. I similarly have enough respect for individual liberty not to require Latinos to forget Spanish; I was simply making the point that alternating between English and Spanish pronunciations during an English-language broadcast is distracting at best, off-putting at worst.

        • prellmechanic

          But your point is a good one, however much you may wish to disown it. Latinos will never fully assimilate to ‘Murican culture so long as Spanish-language media continue to thrive in a land where everyone but Latinos speaks English.

          • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

            Why do they need to assimilate? As long as they’re not living off my dime or preying on other people, I don’t care what they do in their spare time. I don’t need them to watch pro football or eat philly cheese steaks, nor do I feel I have a right to dictate culture to them, nor do I suffer under the delusion that there is a single invariant American culture that has existed since 1776 and must be protected at all costs against The Other. Stop being such a xenophobe: live your life the way you want, and let them do the same. Is that really so hard?

          • prellmechanic

            Are you having a bi-polar moment or what? If you know this issue you know that the vast majority of these people are, in fact, living off your income and property tax. You don’t object? Good for you. But then why are you posting here? Because the reporter’s accent annoys you? And I love foreigners. I’m just not wild about invaders.

          • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

            The solution to that problem is to end transfer programs, not to seal the borders. Taxation is wrong whether the recipients are rednecks from Mississippi or Mexican immigrants.

          • prellmechanic

            Ending ‘transfer programs’ is your solution? Even to ‘Muricans in need? Sorry I bothered you.

          • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

            I divide people into groups that are meaningful to me in some way: family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, teammates, neighbors, those with shared interests, those with similar levels of education, etc., and base my level of support for each on the importance of that relationship. You OTOH evidently divide people into two groups: American and foreign.

            I fail to understand why an unknown person in Kansas means more to you, or even is more worthy of your involuntary support, than the same basic unknown person in Guatemala or Portugal, without resorting to some vague notion of shared national culture or the pledge of allegiance.

          • prellmechanic

            You have friends?

          • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

            Herp derp.

          • Multilingual American

            Now you’re beginning to understand how the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere felt when their lands were being invaded by people who knew best what was good for them. Karma, baby!

          • prellmechanic

            I agree, Multi. Let’s get into our space ship and go back and change things. But until we’re able to do that, are you comfortable with the fact that the wealthiest man in the world is a Mexican? And that according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Mexico ranks last (of the 30 wealthiest member states) in tax collection as a percentage of GDP? And that in 1994 Mexico was fourth on a list of countries with the most billionaires?

            And yet, Mexico continues to be the world’s largest producer of indigenous economic refugees. (Are you getting all this down?)

          • Skip Conrad

            Yes, but you have to pay for their multi-lingual ballots.

            And I thought that’s why testing in English language skills was such an integral part of the Citizenship process.

          • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

            A working knowledge of English is critical to American citizenship, but who’s talking about citizenship, or even about English language knowledge? I’m talking about people coming here to live and work regardless of citizenship status, and not about what language they use in official interactions with the state.

            Frankly, I think citizenship is a distinction important only because of the burdens big government places on the non-political class, so I’m not really sure I care all that much about it except as a consequence of other characteristics of American governance.

          • Skip Conrad

            Yes, but you don’t want to have to pay for it (them), nor do I. Live and let live, but I really don’t want to support you financiually.

          • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

            For me, that applies to Americans I don’t know as well as non-Americans I don’t know.

    • J__o__h__n

      I find it hard to follow it when it switches from English pronunciations to Spanish ones. If it is an English language station/show, it should use English pronunciations. I have very limited Spanish and want to be able to understand names and information mentioned and not have the flow of content interrupted or made unintelligible to me. Stories on Putin aren’t done with a Russian accent. The BBC didn’t switch to a cowboy accent when it covered Bush or a drawl to pronounce Clinton.

      • Medina-Merino

        she thinks it buys her some kind of cheap credibility with NPR’s 3 “La Tino” listeners

    • it_disqus

      When someone uses the exact right word in a situation, no matter if it is “distracting” to those of a lesser vocabulary, it raises the level of the conversation. Going in and out of Spanish in this conversation made it a better conversation.

      • J__o__h__n

        The purpose of a conversation is to communicate not to show off one’s sesquipedalian vocabulary.

        • Multilingual American

          Spoken like a true reptilian.

      • Medina-Merino

        yeah, it raises it from the gutter to the curb…get real!

    • flashwins

      Says a d-bag of the highest order.

    • Medina-Merino

      pretentiousness like hers translates easily across cultural lines…

    • Multilingual American

      Tsk, tsk, tsk!

  • prellmechanic

    Sorry, Maria. Poverty is poverty, no matter how much lipstick you put on it. Responsible for 60% of illegal immigrants in the U.S., Mexico imposes huge unfunded burdens on our schools and social services that belie your own propaganda that another amnesty would allow undocumented Mexicans to ‘buy homes and send their children to college’.

    • Skip Conrad

      It’s got to be reciprocal, Maria. If undocumented Mexican can buy homes and send their children to college in the US, undocumented Americans should have the same privileges in Mexico.

  • Duxford

    I agree Kyle, I notice this quite a bit. If you’re going to pronounce foreign words in english, then you dont need to do it in an intentional accent. It’s either one or the other. Likewise, Ms. Hinojosa comes across as biased race-baiter to me. She refuses to use the correct lexicon of the US Government (Illegal Alien/Migrant) for her downgraded and made up expression: “Undocumnted”. When I forget my gym membership card I am “Undocumented”. If I am in the USA illegally I would be an Illegal Alien or Illegal Migrant.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Why does no one talk about the cost of mass legalization? For example, would social programs be overburdened? This is a basic question that independent budget & legislative analysts do routinely, yet no one applies it to this very important issue!

    Secondly, if everyone in the nation was made legal today, what of the border for the thousands more to come?

    As for myself, I lost a weekend part time job to an illegal immigrant who agreed to work for less – what downtrodden country was he from? Ireland.

    Progressive Democrat who believes in Zero Population Growth

    • M Kathryn Vernon

      How about negative population growth?

  • Kris

    This country and its citizens have always picked on the latest group of immigrants, legal or otherwise, to arrive. In the 1820s-30s it was the Germans; in the 1840s-60s it was the Irish; in the 1870s-80s it was the Chinese & Japanese; in the 1890s-1920s it was the Italians, Jews, Romanians, Russians, Greeks, & Slavic peoples turn. Now it’s the Mexicans, Central Americans. South Americans & Caribbean nationalities turn. Our nation will turn it’s scorn to a new group when they begin arriving as immigrants. I find this ironic since the US is a nation of immigrants, but it’s an important to note due to the long history of it.

    • Fay Nissenbaum

      Laws have changed greatly since the days of legal Ellis Island immigration. Immigrants then could not demand and get teachers who speak their native languages. Contrast that to today, when teachers must know Spanish just to get a job doing what theyve trained for. I am not anti-immigrant – but I am annoyed no one tallys up the costs to us citizens legally here and born here.
      The big benefit of mass legalization would mean all those construction contractors and shop owners employing illegal workers would suddenly have payroll taxes and insurance costs they escape now. let’s do it, but let’s know the numbers.

  • KayJay12

    I find it very irritating too, when they pronounce words sounding like “ladino” (which by the way is another ethnic group) or say mejicanos instead of Mexicans. Distracting and unnecessary. And, as we can see from the comments below, incenses the usual haters (sorry, for the lack of a better word).

  • KayJay12

    And I totally agree that the last group of immigrants gets the full weight of the hatred, again, from the usual suspects.

  • Skip Conrad

    What is a Latino? A Latino is someone from Latin America, which includes South America and those parts of North American south of the US border. Now, it’s called Latin America because of the Latin or Romance languages spoken there; Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, etc. But English is spoken in Jamaica, Honduras, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands, and Guyana (formerly British Guiana). There are also strong German enclaves in Chile and Argentina.
    I don’t know whether Maria would consider these German and English speaking areas as Latino. I definitely wouldn’t.

  • M Kathryn Vernon

    I am becoming increasingly annoyed with NPR’s focus on the importance of Immigration Reform that includes a pathway to citizenship. Very little attention has been given to the opposite view and then it’s with a dismissive sneer. After thirty some- odd years of listening and contributing to public radio in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Wichita, I am ready to throw in the towel, find other sources of information, and make my own decisions (something I already do).

    • Medina-Merino

      I think they have lost track of their Birkenstock and 100% organic cotton, granola-munching listeners who are shivering in their apartments, who have lost their pensions, their homes and their savings are not exactly enamored with “dreamers”, their “advocates” or their insider-lackies at the White House…what a mistake.

  • prellmechanic

    As with all controversial subjects, facts are stubborn things. In March, 2006, here’s what Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman had to say about immigration in the New York Times (‘North of the Border’):

    “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” wrote Emma Lazarus, in a poem that still puts a lump in my throat. I’m proud of America’s immigrant history, and grateful that the door was open when my grandparents fled Russia.

    In other words, I’m instinctively, emotionally pro-immigration. But a review
    of serious, nonpartisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the
    economics of modern immigration, and immigration from Mexico in particular. If people like me are going to respond effectively to anti-immigrant demagogues, we have to acknowledge those facts.

    First, the net benefits to the U.S. economy from immigration, aside from the large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small. Realistic estimates suggest that immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native-born Americans by no more than a fraction of 1 percent.

    Second, while immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration — especially immigration from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst-paid Americans. The most authoritative recent study of this
    effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, estimates that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren’t for Mexican immigration.

    That’s why it’s intellectually dishonest to say, as President Bush does, that immigrants do “jobs that Americans will not do.” The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays — and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.

    Unfortunately, low-skill immigrants don’t pay enough taxes to cover the cost of the benefits they receive…Realistically, we’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants. Mainly that means better controls on illegal immigration…

    Worse yet, immigration penalizes governments that act humanely. Immigrants are a much more serious fiscal problem in California than in Texas, which treats the poor and unlucky harshly, regardless of where they were born.’

    . . . . . . .

    Now, if legalizing millions of undocumented people in the U.S. were the boon to the economy and to society generally that liars in the Senate (McCain, Graham, Reid, Feinstein, Schumer, Rubio, etc.) say it would be, then comprehensive reform would be the right thing to do. But unfortunately, that’s just not the case.

  • AngryPancho

    I know somewhere else Latinos are not visible. There are a couple of soup kitchen operations in my town, and, driving by, I’ve never seen a Latino in line for a free lunch. Why do you suppose that is?

    My favorite factoid about immigration is that we already (idiotically) spend more on border enforcement than on the F.B.I., D.E.A., Secret Service, Marshal’s Service and A.T.F. combined.

    Maria has always done a fine job and it’s good to here her on a national show. The most controversial thing she says on this show is that she asks, what does our treatment of Latino immigrants say about us? If I answered that truthfully, I’d quickly have my comment excised.

    • prellmechanic

      When our southern border is as peaceful and secure as our border with Canada, then we won’t have to spend any more on the Mexican border than we do on the Canadian border. It’s rocket science!

  • AngryPancho

    On immigration the GOP is kinda shooting itself in the foot. I know more conservative than progressive Latinos and it’s been that way since I was a kid.

  • Bing

    What are undocumented firearms referred to as? Illegal guns??

  • jamesh

    I listened to this story and am really tired of hearing about how difficult it is for illegal aliens in the U.S.. My great grandfather came to this country from Wales in the 1860s. He worked 10-12 hr. days six days a week as a coal miner and found time to become a naturalized citizen. I am descended from English, Welsh, Dutch, and French settlers and believe strongly that because our nation is made up of immigrants we are who we are because of our diversity.

    Hispanics who come here and are here illegally are breaking the laws of the United States. I have yet to hear any advocate for hispanic rights in the U.S. say publicly that illegal immigration is wrong. Instead we have round tables, special-interest groups, the church, and everybody else saying that it’s ok for illegals to be here and that they should be accorded certain rights and privileges. I can understand exceptions made for those who are persecuted for religious or poltical views when it becomes an issue of imminent danger to their well-being but those are rare circumstances.

    Illegal immigration is wrong and it is not fair to the millions of individuals waiting in line and paying large sums of money to immigration attorneys to become naturalized citizens of the United States. Illegal immigrants compete with U.S. citizens for jobs in a bad economy. Illegal immigrants steal identities to make it appear that they are here illegally, thus damaging the individual whose identity or Social Security number they stole. Many illegal immigrants are arrogant and believe that the municipality or government in which they reside should pay for their welfare and health benefits.

    My wife and I sold our house several years ago to an Hispanic couple, probably here illegally, who defaulted on their mortgage within months and high-tailed back to Argentina in the middle of the night, sticking the mortgage company and the American people with their unpaid debt. I have seen countless hispanics in line at the post office purchasing money orders to send to family back home, not wanting to invest their earnings in the community in which they reside.

    I’m glad to see that more businesses are using e-Verify to determine if an applicant for a job is here illegally. We need more of this type of program if for anything else to allow illegals to self-deport themselves so that the American taxpayer isn’t stuck with picking up the tab.
    If Ms. Hinojosa doesn’t approve of U.S. “values” toward immigration, which is an amazingly ignorant comment given that the U.S. has the most diversity of any country in the world, then I invite her to live somewhere else and see how damn lucky she is to be in such a tolerant place as the U.S.
    Finally, in response to the one commentator who places a low value on the concept of citizenship, during the Civil War, immigrants fresh to our shores fought to uphold the Union and gave their lives doing so. They valued U.S. citizenship because it gave them opportunties that they couldn’t experience in their home countries: the ability to own land, vote, express their views without fear of reprisal, practice their own religion, have a fair trial judged by their own peers. Many male immigrants who came here from Russia and Eastern Europe had been in danger of being forcibly conscripted into their respective armies for 20-year enlistments. The crowning achievement for many Immigrants was to declare that they were a citizen of the United States of America and proud of it.

  • Syrians – chemical weapons
  • Save children of syria
  • Kurfco

    I listened to this show. It was full of misunderstanding, misinformation, and outrageous spin.
    At some point in this interview, Hinojosa said illegal immigration had come to a halt. No so. It is soaring. What she is referring to is a 2011 Pew Center study saying that “net” immigration had dropped to zero. All that meant was that many were leaving and many were illegally entering. Since then, Border Patrol apprehensions and deaths in the desert are up as illegal immigrants, emboldened by all the amnesty talk, make a run across the border.

    “In fact, we, LATINO USA, believe that there is a civil rights movement that is taking place right now, and for many people like on “Mad Men,” it’s kind of just on the background, you know, you see it on the evening news, and maybe you know about it, maybe you don’t, in fact it’s a movement that is alive, and it’s changing all of us, because any time that you have an engagement with the civil rights conversation or the human rights conversation, it applies to all of us who live in this country.”
    This isn’t a “civil rights” movement. It is an attempt by a huge number of illegal immigrants to extort legalization from this country.

    ” Now Mexicanos and Latinos are everywhere. They’re in Wyoming, they’re in Nebraska, they’re in North Carolina, they’re in Alaska, they’re in Hawaii, they are everywhere.”
    I refer to this as metastatic illegal immigration and it results from decades of failure to adequately enforce our clear law.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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