The paradox of being from two places but having no real home is a phenomenon all immigrants grapple with. Jorge Ramos is no stranger to that experience, as is evident in his new memoir, Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era.
The book opens with the infamous encounter in August 2015 between Ramos, star anchor of Univision’s “Noticiero Univision,” and then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. When Ramos pressed for specifics on Trump’s campaign promise to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants, Ramos was removed from the press conference. Outside, Ramos was mockingly told by a Trump supporter to “get out of my country.”
This encounter prompted Ramos to examine what the Trump supporter meant. As a U.S. citizen, Ramos has the same right as any other American to live here. As a member of the media, Ramos has the right to attend press conferences and ask tough questions. Yet clearly some still would not accept an immigrant like him. He remained a stranger in his own country.
Born in Mexico City, Ramos immigrated to the United States in 1983 at the age of 24 with dreams of working in television. His experiences mirror those familiar to many immigrants: arriving in Los Angeles with little money and few possessions, struggling to master the English language (with an accent he still has not been able to shake) and desiring to work and live freely.
While the memoir is inevitably full of snapshots of Ramos’s life as a bilingual journalist, from his inexperienced days in radio to his prestigious current status as the “Walter Cronkite of Latin America,” what is most striking is how he comes to terms with his yearnings for the comforts of his home in Mexico. Ramos writes, “I will never be American enough for many Americans. Just as I will never be Mexican enough for many Mexicans.”
These words eerily resemble a famous line from the 1997 biopic “Selena,” in which Abraham Quintanilla says about Mexican-Americans, “We gotta be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time.”
If 21 years later, Mexican-Americans are still dealing with the same issues, who is to say when we will truly belong?
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