An immigration activist confronts the nativist opposition to the nation’s changing demography and suggests another way to bridge the yawning cultural divide.
Noorani, executive director of the advocacy organization National Immigration Forum, explored America’s heartland to find folks sufficiently open-minded to willingly and honestly take part in today’s acrimonious political discussions. The author has learned that speaking with both sides, liberals and conservatives, about the immigration debate could yield real results, perhaps even comity. Throughout his journey, Noorani found articulate ideologues, from a small-town sheriff to a political talking head to an archbishop. He explored America’s public policy concerning immigrants, refugees, and undocumented residents with entrepreneurs, farmers and tech engineers, politicians, pastors, and police chiefs. In a section regarding “Bibles, Badges and Business,” the author discusses thoughtful evangelicals, law enforcement officers, and captains of commerce. He chronicles his interviews with numerous people who have confronted the cultural challenges in different ways, from Arizona’s “show me your papers” law to its rejection in Utah, from the apple farmer providing homes for his workers while the local government withdraws support to the immigrants who decline to register to vote when they see traffic police in the neighborhood. Xenophobes and populists, the author discovered, imagine the economy to be a zero-sum game; their world is changing, and they are afraid. Yet, even if not one more newcomer crosses our border, birth rates will assuredly increase the numbers that will exacerbate a continuing problem for a free and caring nation. Throughout the book, Noorani reminds us all—vegetable farmers to tech engineers, culturally isolated coastal liberals and middle American conservatives, residents of big cities and small towns—that diversity is both difficult and important.
Solid advice for an anxious and angry polity on how to talk about a growing cultural challenge.