Armchair Conversations on Immigration and American Identity

Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum went to the homes of Americans in 26 different communities. In Episode 9, we discuss what he heard.

For years, the National Immigration Forum focused their resources on influencing conservative and moderate leaders in faith, business, and law enforcement across the country. After the 2016 election, that changed. Ali Noorani, the Forum’s executive director, wanted to uncover a fuller picture of American attitudes on immigration, and realized that listening was the way to do it.

Noorani’s team and their partners decided to go directly to voters in rural and suburban America for answers. In 2018, they sat down with voters from 26 communities in their own homes to talk about their hopes and fears around immigration and American identity. In ditching the formalities of focus groups and town hall meetings, they found something refreshing: honesty.

While voters all over the country share a common sense of American identity, its meaning varies by region. “Ultimately, there’s a sense that there’s a common sense of American values, but they’re really localized,” Noorani says. “A person in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, sees themselves as an American, but not in the same way a person in Corpus Christi does.”

In a conversation with Doug Hattaway, Noorani shares findings from the Forum’s recent report, “Out of Many, One,” and discusses our American Aspirations project, which explores the hope and fears of Americans from all walks of life.

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