The Codcast: The immigration reform challenge

With last year’s election of Donald Trump, complete with his campaign talk about about bad hombres and Mexican rapists, it’s hard to feel too optimistic about the prospects for comprehensive — and reasoned — immigration reform. Trump adds a loud exclamation mark to what had already become a starkly partisan divide on the issue.

But Ali Noorani — the guest on this week’s Codcast —  says a solution to the immigration debate isn’t just a matter of the political dynamics in Washington. (Noorani may be familiar to folks in Massachusetts because he spent a decade in Boston serving as director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.)

“We’ve always thought about this as an issue that’s all about politics or is all about policy. What I have learned about the immigration debate is that I think the majority of Americans see this as a question about culture and about values,” he said.

Noorani, the executive director the National Immigration Forum, a Washington-based group advocating for immigration reform, has been having conversations about those values and culture issues with conservative religious figures, law enforcement officials, and business leaders. His conclusion: We can find a lot more common ground on the immigration debate than people think.

The conversations led to formation of an alliance dubbed Bibles, Badges, and Business for Immigration Reform. “If you hold a Bible, you wear a badge, or you run a business, you want a common sense solution to the immigration system,” says Noorani.

He and traditional liberal backers of immigrant rights found common cause, for example, with Mormon officials, business leaders, and other prominent Utah voices to stave off efforts to bring harsh anti-immigrant legislation there modeled on Arizona’s controversial “show me your papers” law.

Noorani has written a book about his conversations and about some of the failures of earlier immigration reform efforts — There Goes The Neighborhood: How Communities Overcome Prejudice and Meet the Immigration Challenge.

In our conversation — and his book — Noorani has some interesting observations that probably go against conventional thinking. He says a good example of a campaign that succeeded by focusing on culture and values and not just politics was the 2010 effort to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on gay service members. His book also discusses the deep disappointment of immigrant-reform advocates with President Obama, who aggressively pushed deportation orders in what Noorani thinks was a mistaken belief that this would give him more credibility with conservatives to negotiate reform legislation.

Noorani says he’s an eternal optimist, but concedes that Trump’s election has made the path to immigration reform tougher.

— MICHAEL JONAS

 

BEACON HILL

The Baker administration chips in $1.9 million for infrastructure improvements in Haverhill, paving the way for a 10-story building being developed by Sal Lupoli. (Eagle-Tribune)

Senate President Stan Rosenberg says he’ll hold up a vote on the bill aimed at reducing recidivism unless the House and Gov. Charlie Baker agree to a measure addressing other criminal justice reforms such as sentencing and diversion. (WGBH)

A Herald editorial backs Gov. Charlie Baker’s call for stiffer sentences for drug dealers whose wares lead to a fatal overdose.  Setti Warren, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, calls out Baker for proposing new mandatory minimum sentences even though he has spoken out previously in opposition to them. (State House News)

Some South Shore legislators have formed the Fair Skies Caucus to address noise and pollution problems they say are caused by low-flying planes on takeoff and landing at Logan Airport. (Patriot Ledger)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, once a leading opponent of marijuana legalization, is now embracing the economic potential of pot. (CommonWealth)

Members of a private Falmouth gun club claim the two shooting ranges on their property were in use prior to a 1971 ordinance requiring special permits and they claim the effort by neighbors of a residential development built long after the club started are just trying to close it down. (Cape Cod Times)

Some Brockton officials are denouncing Mayor Bill Carpenter’s hiring of a former Boston police officer fired for assault. The officer is working as a code enforcer in Brockton. (The Enterprise)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Anticipation is building over what President Trump will do about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that has granted work permits for some 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children. (Boston Globe) MIT president L. Rafael Reif pens a Globe op-ed urging the president to keep the program in place. Several reports, including from Trump’s favored network Fox News, say he’s made up his mind and will end the program, though a White House spokeswoman denies there’s been a final decision. (U.S. News & World Report)

A chemical plant in Houston deemed one of Texas’s most hazardous is rocked by explosions from destabilized chemicals caused by a lack of refrigeration after power was knocked out by Hurricane Harvey. Officials have evacuated around the plant because of the dangerous noxious fumes hanging in the air. (New York Times) Disaster relief agencies say they are having trouble getting supplies to those in need because of flooded roads. (Washington Post)  President Trump pledges $1 million out of his own pocket for the relief effort. (U.S. News & World Report)

A lawsuit is challenging whether Trump, as a public official, has the right to block Twitter users from his account. (Boston Globe)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined to endorse the plan to feature abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill to replace Andrew Jackson, a hero of President Trump’s. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and her challenger Paul Prevey engage in their first debate. (Salem News)

A proposed Republican State Committee resolution condemning Black Lives Matter as a left-wing hate group is creating divisions among Republicans likely to be on the statewide ballot next year, with Gov. Charlie Baker and US Senate candidate John Kingston voicing opposition to the resolution, state Rep. Geoff Diehl, who also plans to seek the Senate nomination, supporting it, and a third Senate hopeful, Beth Lindstrom, punting on the question. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

New GE chief executive John Flannery is eyeing cuts to increase the company’s profitability, and that could include slicing positions at the new Boston corporate headquarters. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

The drama over Lowell’s new high school goes on, as the school board sues the city. (Lowell Sun)

Students at Somerset Berkley Regional High School will have to give up their cellphones while in classrooms under a new School Committee policy that bans the use of personal devices connecting to the school’s wifi. (Herald News)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and John Hickenlooper of Colorado unveil bipartisan recommendations for fixing Obamacare. (Governing)

The Trump administration has drastically cut spending on advertising and promotion for enrollment for the Affordable Care Act because they say there’s no evidence the programs work. But advocates for the health law say it’s just another way to sabotage its success. (New York Times)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA plans a crackdown on fare evaders on commuter rail trains. (Boston Globe)

Newton Yellow Cab of Newton, a 40-year-old company that has been owner Dick Johnston’s life, turned out the (head)lights on Wednesday, victim of the disruptive force of Uber and Lyft. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A New Hampshire regulatory agency puts off a decision on Northern Pass for six months, dealing Eversource a major blow in its bid to land a major clean energy contract with the state of Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)

Rebecca Elliott of the London School of Economics calls for a green energy New Deal in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. (New York Times) Gas prices around the state are on the rise as the US taps petroleum reserves in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. (State House News Service)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The lawyer for Joshua Hubert, the man accused of abducting a 7-year-old girl and throwing her off a bridge into Lake Quinsigamond, denies his client was even with the girl on the bridge (Telegram & Gazette)

The state’s Executive Office of Public Safety has launched a probe of the office that oversee breathalyzer tests in the wake of allegations from defense lawyers of widespread problems with the accuracy of the test used to gauge whether drivers are drunk. (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

An editorial in Worcester Magazine criticizes editor Walter Bird Jr. for flirting on Facebook with a female politician and also criticizes City Councilor Michael Gaffney for giving screenshots of the exchanges to an anonymous blog.

Northeastern University journalism professor and media critic Dan Kennedy says the New York Times “bends over backwards” to find positive things to say about President Trump while the Washington Post presents an unvarnished look at the presidency. (Media Nation)