Want U.S. Immigration Reform? Then Face U.S. Immigration Culture

Apr 13, 2017

Around the U.S. – and especially in South Florida – immigration is a hot-button issue under the Trump administration. But a new book by Ali Noorani, executive director of the nonprofit National Immigration Forum in Washington D.C., casts the subject in a more hopeful light.

During the past decade, Noorani, the U.S.-born son of Pakistani immigrants, has learned something that Donald Trump’s presidential victory last year confirmed:

Immigration reform will take more than changing politics. It requires changing culture — meaning, the prevailing fear and anger regarding immigration and America’s dramatically changing demographics.

“What we as folks who care about immigrants and immigration reform did is that we ignored the broad swath of Americans who are struggling with these cultural changes," says Noorani. "And, quite frankly, while we were having a political debate, the rest of the country was having a cultural debate.”

As a result, Noorani traveled the country to better understand those anxieties – and how Americans are resolving them. The result is “There Goes the Neighborhood: How Communities Overcome Prejudice and Meet the Challenge of American Immigration” (Prometheus Books, $25).

“What I took away is a sense of hope," says Noorani, "that those of who identify as politically liberal and conservatives may have a different language about immigrants and immigration, but they want to get to the same goal.”

To listen to WLRN's interview with Noorani, press Listen above.