Can we get along? A California conversation about immigration

Rebecca Goddard doesn’t understand why some of her fellow Californians have labeled her a racist simply because she supports increased enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws.

Vinisha Thornton supports legal immigration but says it’s unfair for illegal immigrants to reap the many benefits and privileges of living here. But Teresa Nuñez, who illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, says she can’t understand why undocumented immigrants who work hard and pay taxes aren’t more valued in the Golden State.

At a time when America’s political landscape has become so toxic, is there any way that strangers like Goddard, Thornton and Nuñez can come together to help find solutions and compromises in regard to the vexing, incendiary issue of illegal immigration?

The premise of the Talking Across Borders project is that progress will come when we figure out how to talk about the issue with civility — and the warring sides at least listen to the concerns of people with whom they disagree.

Making that conversation happen is the mission of Spaceship Media, a Bay Area nonprofit whose aim is to use journalism to bridge divides and reduce polarization. The media partners in the new project include the Bay Area News Group, the Southern California News Group and Univision, a national Spanish-language TV network.

As part of the project, more than 60 people across California will take part in a closed Facebook group over the next month. About half of them support greater enforcement of immigration laws. About half oppose increased enforcement. A smattering of those in the group have staked out middle-ground positions.

During the monthlong discussion, participants will be able to suggest topics and questions for the group to address. The effort will be moderated by Spaceship Media founders Eve Pearlman and Jeremy Hay, two veteran journalists who will also prompt conversation. Reporters from the media partners …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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