In another sign of the Hispanic community’s growing political and economic clout, Univision and ABC News announced Monday a new cable network called Fusion that will cater to that audience in English-language programming. Fox News launched a Spanish-language network, MundoFox, one year ago. A Latino Decisions nationwide poll on the eve of the 2012 election found that 38 percent of Hispanic voters watch Spanish-language television every day and another 24 percent watch weekly.
“A politician who can communicate his or her message on Spanish-language television to the fastest-growing minority in this country is increasingly powerful,” said Democratic consultant Maria Cardona, who specializes in Hispanic outreach. “It’s very smart of the Republican Party to have Rubio do this. Now the Republican Party is going to have to finish the sentence, by making changes in their policies, which you are starting to see with immigration.”
Rubio is part of a bipartisan group of senators who last month unveiled a sweeping set of reforms that includes allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship, establishing a guest-worker program, making it easier for high-skilled engineers and scientists to get visas, and tightening border security.
“We can also help our economy grow if we have a legal immigration system that allows us to attract and assimilate the world’s best and brightest,” Rubio said Tuesday night. “We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally. But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past to secure our borders and enforce our laws.”
Obama, who failed to keep his promise to overhaul the immigration system in his first term, also included a pitch for reform in his speech. “Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away and America will be better for it,’” he said. “Let’s get it done.”
Obama invested more money in Spanish-language television and radio ads in 2008 and 2012 than any presidential candidate before him, and he has given interviews to Univision, Telemundo, and CNN en Espanol. His interviews, like others with English-speaking politicians, are translated or presented with captions.
“Obama has made sure Latinos are hearing his message directly from him,” Cardona said. “When the president is interviewed on Univision, it’s compelling. But you cannot overstate the power of the emotional connection that is triggered when you hear your own language.”
George Condon contributed