Book by: Jorge Ramos
Review by: Matthew Hickey
Immigration reform has been one of the most dividing issues in today’s political landscape. A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto by George Ramos argues for reform, which allows undocumented immigrants an easier path to citizenship and easing restrictions on border security. He believes these actions will lead to a more prosperous country economically and an increasingly educated and more politically active Latino population.
Ramos spends the beginning of his manifesto illustrating not only the massiveness of the immigration dilemma but also its effects on foreign and domestic policy. Through his statistical analysis he surmises that the current practice of enforcing the US immigration policy via deportation is not aligned with the multiculturalist spirit of the US Constitution and that “Enforcement only policies are expensive and ineffective” (p.45). While these observations may be widely accepted, some of Ramos’s conclusions that he presents as fact are inconsistent with his overall argument.
For example, Ramos states “65,000 (undocumented) students who graduated from high school are unable to continue on to college” (p.59). Undocumented immigrants certainly do not have equal access to higher education as they may be disqualified from in-state tuition, federal loans and grants. While colleges have their own admission policies, it’s worth noting that “Federal or state laws do not require students to prove citizenship in order to enter U.S. institutions of higher education” (College Board, 2014). Ramos also does not clarify on whether or not these students have been accepted into any higher education institutions or simply graduated from high school. By taking that 65,000 and applying it to the 42% national average of 18-24 year olds who attended college in 2011 (Institute of Education Sciences, 2014); the final number is 27,500 students. While this number is high, it is much lower than the 65,000 that Ramos presents in his argument. Ramos uses this formula of presenting a statistic and drawing his own interpretations without providing deeper context throughout his manifesto.
Ramos points out that a major step in immigration reform, as it pertains to how colleges would approach undocumented immigrants, would be through the DREAM Act. This act would provide 2.1 million undocumented immigrants a clearer path to college (Educators for Fair Consideration, 2014). While the DREAM Act has been met with mixed reviews in Congress, with 12 million immigrants considered to be undocumented and a projected Latino population of 132.8 million by the year 2050 (p.88), it is simply a matter a time before some immigration reform is implemented. Both major parties in Congress recognize the political capital that the Latino population is continuing to gain. With this momentum it is only natural that demand for equal access to higher education will increase.
With the 2014 Mid-Term elections approaching, the dilemma of immigration reform is at the center of many political debates. Ramos does an excellent job at arguing for why we should demand an overhaul of our immigration system, but he doesn’t spend much time on how to go about such a massive undertaking and what effect this shift would have on political culture. His final chapter attempts to tackle the ‘How’, but statements like “Legalizing undocumented workers already living in the United States is a vital component of any new immigration law,” (p.134) leave the reader with more questions than answers. A Country for All is an adequate read for those unaware of the recent history of U.S. immigration policy. That being said, this is a manifesto as the title says and not a piece of academic work.
Advising Undocumented Students. College Board. (2014). Retrieved on August 6th 2014
An Overview of College-bound Undocumented Students. Educators for Fair Consideration (2014), Retrieved on August 6th 2014
National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences, (2013) Retrieved on August 6th 2014
A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto. (2010). Book by Jorge Ramos, Knopf Doubleday. Review by Matthew Hickey. New York: Random House. 173 pp., $14.95, (Paperback), ISBN #978-0-307-47554