A brief numerical synopsis of Jorge Ramos’ successful journalism career reads something like this: five wars covered, seven books written, seven Emmy awards won, and nineteen years as lead anchor for Noticiero Univision, a nightly news show watched by approximately 98 percent of the 40 million Spanish households in the United States. All of this, plus a daily radio commentary and weekly newspaper column, by the young age of 47.
Ramos is many things to the U.S. Hispanic community, most certainly a household name: The Miami Herald says he’s “bigger than Peter Jennings, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw” because his newscast ratings consistently trump all other networks in Miami, San Francisco, and Houston. He’s as influential as Oprah: The book club he started in 2002 regularly catapults his three monthly recommendations into Spanish-language best-sellers. He’s the face of a changing nation: Ramos came to the United States from Mexico with a student visa in 1983, and his own immigrant experience has focused his reportorial eye on the plight of what he calls the country’s “second wave” of immigrants.
In his latest book, Dying to Cross (excerpted in Texas Monthly’s pages this month), Ramos recounts the “worst immigrant tragedy in American history”—the harrowing tale of the deaths of nineteen Mexican immigrants crammed into a sweltering truck trailer that was abandoned near Victoria, Texas.