Digging deeper into immigration debate

An immigrant protest rally in 2006, the closest the United States came to comprehensive immigration reform. (PHOTO: Robin Taylor, Flickr CC)

Immigration policy burns at the heart of the political and cultural battle presently tearing this nation asunder.

So, it made for a great topic for our most recent podcast of “Dig Deep.” This radio/podcast hybrid features conservative commentator Chuck Marohn and myself, the liberal commentator. My friend Heidi Holtan produces the program for Northern Community Radio.

Last week we broke the topic into three short episodes that aired on the radio. Then we added a special podcast-only conversation that got into great depth about the emotional politics of immigration.

In the first episode, we dug deep into our personal immigration stories and the local history of immigration.

The second episode dives into the economic arguments surrounding immigration and labor policy.

Our concluding third episode attempts to piece together immigration policy in a way that might actually lead to resolution between the immovable “sides” of the argument.

The podcast only episode was a fascinating discussion. Chuck processed his thoughts on why so many Republicans continue to reject arguments against policies that Democrats label “racist.” We got to some important truths that won’t make either side particularly happy.

In total, I think this was one of the best Dig Deep series we’ve done, a good example of our unique brand of political talk. We try to listen more than shout on heated topics like this. We stick to real outcomes and avoid soundbite logic.

A number of people have asked why political debate can’t be more like what Chuck and I do. And of course the answer is that Chuck and I have the luxury of just talking about these things. We don’t have interest groups pushing us one way or another, nor we don’t have to survive primaries in our home parties. But if enough people decide they want something to change, it will change. Often this occurs when “opposite” sides realize they have something important in common.

In August, Dig Deep heads to the big leagues. Heidi, Chuck and I will be moderators of the first gubernatorial debate between the winners of the Aug. 14 primary.


  1. I will definitely check out these podcasts. I would not have pegged you as the “liberal,” so congratulations on being an honest dealer so that your leanings aren’t immediately apparent.

    • I’m a trained journalist, which is something I take seriously. I’m also pretty pragmatic and curious about other points of view, so I don’t reflexively fall back to partisan soundbites. But my heart bleeds! 🙂

  2. Wow, great conversation, probably the most informative and thought-provoking immgration conversation I’ve heard since the days of the Gang of 8 in 2007. I wish our national discourse on a whole host of topics could be like the conversation you guys had.

  3. Gerald S says

    A little disappointed to hear the “open borders” schtick — fewer people favor open borders than favor rounding up all Muslims and locking them in concentration camps — it’s just another right wing marketing schtick.

    What most liberals favor is fairness — not just the concern that there are people waiting overseas who are going through the hoops to try to immigrate, but also the concern that someone brought here at age 2 months and raised speaking English and in our culture should be deported to a country they never have seen where people speak a language they speak either poorly or not at all rather than make the contribution to our economy that the taxpayers have invested in, and that people who face threats caused by our policy that they or their children will be forced into gang life or prostitution cannot be considered for asylum in our country, and that someone who has lived here for 25 years and runs a multimillion dollar business started form scratch and employs 30 people can be deported if they came here illegally originally, and so on.

    In the end, if we are really serious about stopping illegal immigration, there is one way and one way only that it will work, since all the walls and all the troops just make it harder and more expensive to get in and waste our money, not making illegal entry anywhere near impossible. If we are serious, we need to adopt a national employment and education ID, where everyone, from Native Americans whose families arrived 20,000 years ago to people whose ancestors came on the Mayflower to the people who crossed the border this afternoon has to present a national picture ID, backed up by verification on the Internet, in order to get a job, get into school, get any government benefit, and so on, and that employers who hire people who do not present a valid checked ID are subject to large fines or prison time. If you really want to stop illegal immigration, that will do it.

    Then we can go on to a rational discussion of asylum, of pathways to citizenship for people who have become part of our communities, of recruitment of highly skilled workers, and so on, deciding just who we want to have in this country.

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