Show cover of The Rational Middle

The Rational Middle

In these divided times, a number of important challenges are facing our nation. One of the largest is immigration reform. Histrionics have ruled the day and started a firestorm of debate on the issue. Rational Middle is working to change that by providing a holistic view through conversations with thought leaders, legislators, business owners, and citizens which can help us find common ground in the larger debate surrounding comprehensive reform.


Exploring the Crisis of Immigrant Child Labor with Aaron Reichlin-Melnick
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Director at the American Immigration Council, speaks with host Omar Gallaga about the growing challenge of migrant child labor violations in the United States.
23:38 5/10/23
Randy Johnson: 40 Years of Policy Change
Randel Johnson, the former Senior Vice President of the Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, joins us today. Randy has over four decades of experience in shaping immigration policy, advocating for business interests, and collaborating with policymakers and stakeholders to address the complex challenges of the U.S. immigration system. Randy is currently a visiting scholar at Cornell Law School. Randy joins host Carter Carroll to share his insights and perspectives on American immigration, including his experiences at the Chamber of Commerce and his vision for the future of immigration policy in the United States.
20:01 5/3/23
Ahmed K. Ali: Knowledge is Important
Dr. Ahmed K. Ali is an associate professor of Architecture at Texas A&M. He is also the Director of the Resource-Based Design Research Lab at TAMU. This week, he joins host Loren Steffy to discuss his immigration story, his work in academia, and his observations on immigration in America.
25:19 4/26/23
Trying to Find the Middle: Theresa Cardinal Brown
This week, we are joined once again by Theresa Cardinal Brown. Theresa Cardinal Brown is the Bipartisan Policy Center's Senior Advisor for Immigration and Border Policy. Brown joins host Gregory Kallenberg to discuss how the BPC finds ways to be bipartisan, updates on her work at the BPC, and more. 
26:33 4/19/23
David Bier: What Congress Wouldn't Let Me Say
David J. Bier is the associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute. He is an expert on legal immigration, border security, and interior enforcement. He recently testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security, on immigration policy issues. He was invited to discuss how the border crisis is affecting Americans. However, the committee did not let him speak to the extent that he had hoped to, often interrupting Bier while questioning him. Host Chris Lyon catches up with David on his testimony and the things he wanted to get across to the committee.
23:49 4/12/23
Changing the Way We Think About Immigrants: Douglas Hotlz-Eakin
Douglas Holtz-Eakin is an American economist. He was formerly Director of the Congressional Budget Office and chief economic policy adviser to Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. Holtz-Eakin is the president of the American Action Forum, a conservative policy institute. Douglas joins host Omar Gallaga to discuss how we can reframe the thinking around immigrants and their economic impact in America. 
17:31 4/5/23
Fighting for Their Rights: Ahilan Arulanantham
Ahilan Arulanantham is a human rights lawyer and Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law. He's also the faculty co-director of the school's Center for Immigration Law and Policy. Ahilan has dedicated his career to defending the rights of immigrants, and his work has earned him numerous awards and accolades. He was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship and recently received the ACLU of Southern California's Bill of Rights Award for his tireless advocacy on behalf of marginalized communities.  Ahilan joins host Carter Carroll to talk about the work he is doing, TPS challenges, and more.
27:59 3/29/23
Small Steps to Move Immigration Forward: DW Gibson
DW Gibson is an American journalist, author, radio host, and cultural critic. He is also the author of the 2020 book, 14 Miles: Building the Border Wall, about the border wall that Former President Trump was building, and its impact on the lives of local residents. DW joins host Loren Steffy to discuss updates on the border wall and other movements that are gaining traction in the immigration policy reform space.
24:45 3/22/23
How Foreign-Born STEM Workers Are Making This Country Better: Amy Nice
Amy Nice is a Distinguished Immigration Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Cornell University.  She's had a long and storied career in immigration, but most recently spent 18 months at the White House at the Office of Science and Technology Policy,  where she worked on immigration issues primarily focused on STEM. She joins host Chris Lyon to discuss the importance of foreign-born STEM workers on the American economy.
25:43 3/15/23
The Problems inside Detention Centers: Mary Yanik and Homero López
We have two guests on the podcast this week! Homero López is the legal director at Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy (ISLA) in Louisiana. ISLA is the primary legal services provider for detention centers across Louisiana. We also have Mary Yanik. Mary is the director of the Tulane Immigrant Rights Clinic. She specializes in assisting immigrant workers including victims of labor trafficking and in defending the constitutional rights of immigrants.    Homero and Mary join new host Omar Gallaga to discuss the Biden administration's supposed consideration of reinstating detaining of migrant families, the current conditions of detention centers, and the treatment of said detainees. 
23:43 3/8/23
What needs to change to help Asylum Seekers: Zachary Manfredi
Zachary (Zak) Manfredi is the Litigation and Advocacy Director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP). Zak oversees ASAP’s litigation matters and policy advocacy, and he often represents ASAP in strategic partnerships and coalitions. Zak joins host Chris Lyon to discuss ASAP's work and what asylum seekers want to see change about the system.
28:37 3/1/23
There is No America without Immigrants: Dr. Hasia Diner and Dr. Carl Bon Tempo
Dr. Hasia Diner and Dr. Carl Bon Tempo are our guests this week. Dr. Diner is the Paul and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History at NYU, and Dr. Bon Tempo is an associate professor at the University at Albany. Their new book, Immigration: An American History, came out last year via Yale Press. The book covers stories of immigrants throughout American history. The pair join host Carter Carroll to discuss the book. Read an excerpt from the book here.  
27:56 2/22/23
Then and Now: Immigration Reform with Charles Kamasaki
Charles Kamasaki is the Senior Cabinet Advisor of UnidosUS, (formerly the National Council of La Raza), the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization, and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Cornell Law School. He is also the author of Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die. Charles joins host Loren Steffy to discuss the book and the findings therein. 
28:07 2/15/23
Shahid Haque and the Open Borders App
Shahid Haque is an immigration attorney based out of Helena, Montana. He runs a law firm called Border Crossing Law, and he recently launched an app to automate immigration consultations. The app, named Open Borders, seeks to help those seeking citizenship and other avenues of entering the US by giving them the information they need to be able to enter. Haque joins host Carter Carroll to talk about his career, immigration in Montana, and the new app.
30:24 2/8/23
Tech Layoffs and the H1-B Visas with Gaurav Khanna
Gaurav Khanna is a respected scholar whose research focuses on development economics, labor economics and applied econometrics. He is an assistant professor of economics at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at USC San Diego and a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development.    Khanna joins host Loren Steffy to discuss recent tech layoff trends, the issues that H1-B Visa holders are facing, and how these visa holders have impacted American economics over the last 20 years.
27:20 2/1/23
What does Biden's Trip to Mexico Really Mean? with Tony Payan
Tony Payan is the Director of the Center for the United States and Mexico at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. Payan joins host Chris Lyon to discuss Biden's recent trip to Mexico and El Paso, Texas. What does this trip mean for immigration policy, and are the outcomes going to be effective? 
25:49 1/25/23
How Will the New Congress Handle Immigration? With Charles Foster
Charles Foster is an immigration attorney and chairman of Foster LLP in Houston. His work includes being a Senior Immigration Policy Advisor for George W. Bush, an immigration policy advisor on the 2008 Obama campaign, and many others. His work in immigration law has made him one of the foremost experts in the field.    Foster joins host Loren Steffy to discuss the new Congress, what needs to happen to come to rational immigration policy changes, and much more. 
22:56 1/18/23
What Comes After Title 42 with AILA President Jeremy McKinney
The end of Title 42 is looming. What comes next? And what exactly is Title 8? Jeremy McKinney is the American Immigration Lawyer Association (AILA) President and an immigration and naturalization lawyer in North Carolina. AILA has recommendations for Congress on how to handle the transition to Title 8 and beyond. McKinney joins host Chris Lyon to discuss these issues and more on this week's episode.
32:24 1/11/23
The International Student Experience with Rajika Bhandari
Rajika Bhandari is an international higher education expert, writer and speaker. She came to America, from India, to further her education. Her award-winning Memoir, America Calling: A Foreign Student in a Country of Possibility, came out 2021. Bhandari joins host Chris Lyon to discuss the experiences of many international students here in America, and the issues that they face.
41:50 12/21/22
Glenn Altschuler and Immigration Misconceptions
Glenn Altschuler is an American writer, as well as a professor and administrator at Cornell University. Altshuler joins host Melissa Brannan to discuss his recent op-ed and common misconceptions about immigration in America.
31:03 12/14/22
Rational Middle Roundup: 150 Episodes
Hosts Chris Lyon, Loren Steffy and Melissa Brannan join new host Carter Carroll to look back at the first 150 episodes of the podcast. The crew discusses favorite past episodes, recent immigration news, and the future of the podcast. 
32:28 12/7/22
Marshall Fitz and Title 42 Challenges
Marshall Fitz is the Managing Director of Immigration of the Emerson Collective. The Emerson Collective "develop(s) strategies to remove barriers to opportunity, and work with community partners to advance common sense solutions to systemic problems." Marshall joins host Chris Lyon to discuss the Emerson Collective's work in immigration, as well as the Title 42 challenges that many immigrants are facing in America. 
33:52 11/30/22
Douglas Rivlin and Pro-Immigrant Policy Changes
Douglas Rivlin is the Director of Communication for America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund. The mission of America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund is to build the public support and the political will needed to enact policy changes that secure freedom and opportunity for immigrants in America. Rivlin joins host Loren Steffy to discuss the recent mid-term elections and how American voters are pushing for immigration reform. 
32:47 11/23/22
Mariko Hirose and the Global Refugee Crisis
Mariko Hirose is the U.S. Litigation Director at International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP.) Mariko joins host Loren Steffy to discuss IRAP's work in aiding refugee's worldwide and here in America. They also discuss IRAP's recent letter of recommendation to the US government on how to help refugee's trying to make it to America.
25:11 11/17/22
Tran Dang and the Hurdles for Bi-National Citizens
Tran Dang is the founder and executive director fo the Rhizome Center for Migrants. Their mission is to support and defend forcibly displaced persons and uprooted people at risk around the world. Dang joins host Melissa Brannan to discuss the work of the center, as well as the problems facing bi-national families at the border between the US and Mexico.
26:29 11/9/22
Midterms Vault: Having Productive Conversations About Divisive Topics with Karl Krumm
On the last of our Midterms Vault Episodes, we revist the first of our Mythbusting series. Consulting psychologist Karl Krumm kicks off the series with a provocative discussion of confirmation bias and other traps to watch out for when trying to talk—productively—about contentious issues.
19:38 11/2/22
Midterms Vault: Theresa Cardinal Brown on Solutions for the Undocumented
As we near the midterm elections, we are re-visiting our interview with Theresa Cardinal Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center to discuss why we fear immigrants, particularly undocumented ones, and what the realistic solutions might be.
29:06 10/26/22
Midterms Vault: Border Town Police Chief Andy Harvey
As we near the midterm elections, we are re-visiting our interview with Chief Andy Harvey, Chief of Police in Pharr, Texas, as well as its newly-appointed City Manager, joins Melissa Brannan to discuss some of the components of life in a border town: the blockade at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, Operation Lone Star, what it's like being on the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, and more.
23:01 10/19/22
Angelica Razo and Building Latino Political Power
Angelica Razo is the Texas State Director for Mi Familia Vota, an organization dedicated to building up the political power and representation of Latinos in the United States. Razo joins host Loren Steffy to discuss the recent work of the organization, including a memo calling for Democrats to fight harder for immigrants.
25:33 10/12/22
Eunice Cho and the Rise of ICE Detention Centers
Eunice Cho is a staff attorney for the ACLU National Prison Project, a project that is working for prison reform and the rights of prisoners around the country. Cho joins host Melissa Brannan to discuss her work with the National Prison Project, as well as how ICE Detention Centers are growing in America.
28:06 10/5/22