Book Talk with Ali Noorani

On May 9, the Codman Square Health Center welcomed Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, Ali Noorani, to discuss his new book There Goes the Neighborhood: How Communities Overcome Prejudice and Meet the Challenge of American Immigration. Ali Noorani was the former Director of Public Health at the Codman Square Health Center and also the former Executive Director of MIRA (the Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition). He continues to be a frequent voice on immigration policy and politics.

Noorani's new book is a collection of interviews that analyze how communities within the United States are confronting immigration and the changing nature of what it means to be American. One of his main focuses is the idea that the immigration debate is not about politics and policies but cultures and values. America is going through an identity crisis, in which many communities refuse to understand that the arrival of immigrants within our neighborhoods is actually a net positive.

One question that Noorani posed to the audience: How do you tell the story of an immigrant's contribution to society without the immigrant being the whole story? We need new ways to communicate these messages - and one such way is the National Immigration Forum's 'New American Workforce'. This initiative works with 250+ businesses nationwide to assist their eligible immigrant employees with the citizenship process, from English language and U.S. History lessons to naturalization application workshops. In this way, businesses are investing in their employees as well as their communities.

Immigration is the foundation of many other social issues within the United States, from public health to law enforcement to education. Noorani notes that one of our biggest challenges moving forward will be how we address the future of legal immigration on an economic level. With that being said, it is important that civic institutions at the local level move past their comfort zones to support immigrants within their communities.

Click here to read more about the National Immigration Forum.