“Go back to Univision.” That’s how Donald Trump answered award-winning journalist Jorge Ramos’ question on the specifics of how the GOP presidential hopeful planned to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants from the U.S.
Shortly after Trump’s outburst, security physically removed the Mexican-American anchor for Univision and Fusion from the August 2015 event.
The incident sparked the idea for Ramos’ upcoming documentary “Hate Rising,” for which he traveled across the U.S. to speak with white supremacy groups, including Neo Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, as well as Muslims, Latinos and children who have been victims of what The Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the Trump effect.”
Trump used his “Go back to Univision” remarks as code for “Go back to Mexico” or “Go back to your country of origin,” Ramos told The Huffington Post. “And just a few seconds later, one of his followers told me, ‘Get out of my country,’” the journalist recalled. “To which I responded, ‘Well, this is also my country, I’m also a U.S. citizen.’ And that’s when I realized that hate is contagious.”
Ramos then spent nine months “following hate” across the country. He found people “who are afraid and angry about what is happening in the United States,” he said. “And what’s happening is that white will eventually be a minority in this country in 2044, and they hate that,” Ramos added.
The Catherine Tambini-directed documentary will premiere in a dual-broadcast on Univision and Fusion Sunday. Ahead of its debut, Ramos spoke to HuffPost about his views on hate in America and how this election has shaped this country for years to come.
How would you define “the Trump effect?”
“The Trump effect” is full of negative connotations and it’s twofold. On one hand, it has given permission to white supremacists and Neo-Nazi groups to express their biases and prejudices. And on the other hand, it has created a lot of fear and anxiety among children.
It may surprise many Americans that these hate groups exist in the U.S. and that there can be such a disconnect between living in a diverse city and elsewhere in the United States. It can feel like two different countries.
You’re right. Prejudice and hate is all over the place, if you live in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago you might not notice. Just travel a few minutes away from major airports ― which is exactly what I did ― in Texas or in Ohio or in Minneapolis and it’s there. Hate is right there.
I didn’t feel comfortable saying a single word for almost 3 hours because it was not a safe space to be an immigrant."
It’s surprising that these white supremacist groups would let a Latino immigrant, and a prominent one at that, into their space. How did you get them to agree to speak to you?
You know, they didn’t ― and that’s an interesting fact. If we had told them that it was going to be me doing the interview they wouldn’t have accepted. However, what happened is that I was working with the director of the documentary, Catherine Tambini. She’s an American and many of the white supremacist groups thought that they were going to meet with her, not with me. And right at the end, I ended up sitting down and doing the interview. But they didn’t know they were going to be talking to me, otherwise it would have been impossible.
Was there something specific that shocked you or made you feel unsafe while working on “Hate Rising”?
I met one person in Texas, he’s an imperial wizard of the KKK in Texas, and he told me that he was superior to me simply because of the color of his skin. Simply because he’s white and I’m Latino. I had never experienced anything like that. And he didn’t want to touch me. He made the move to shake my hand, then he pulled back his hand.
In Ohio, I went to a meeting of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and I didn’t feel comfortable saying a single word for almost three hours because it was not a safe space to be an immigrant.
Now that you’ve delved into that world, what are your thoughts on how Trump has affected the rise of hate groups across the country?
Everybody has prejudices and biases, and those biases and prejudices were only expressed in their homes. And then suddenly came Donald Trump on June 16, 2015, and he has emboldened all those groups and he has allowed all those prejudices to come and be expressed under the excuse that they were politically incorrect. And they were politically incorrect for a reason ― because they hurt, because they damage the core of the country, because they are against the possibility of dialogue.
This is one of the most important elections of our generation, and regardless of who wins the damage has been done already and it’ll take years to repair what has happened."
How do you see this rise in hate affecting the country, far beyond the election?
Honestly, I think this is one of the most important elections of our generation and regardless of who wins, the damage has been done already ― and it’ll take years to repair what has happened when you have a candidate who attacks immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities, veterans, women. It’s really damaging, it affects the core of the country.
It is a very dangerous moment that we are living right now. Everybody is going to remember that and I think we ― you and me and all the journalists and all the voters and politicians ― will be judged by how we reacted to Donald Trump.
“Hate Rising” airs Sunday, October 23 at 10 p.m. EST on Fusion and Univision. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.