Monday, August 06, 2007

Dropping the Temperature On the Immigration Debate's Heat

Are you having a cookout next weekend? Invite your local Congressperson!

The temprature in Washington rose last week in a debate on the federal agriculture approrpations. House Republicans stormed out of the Congressional chambers when a motion to bar the provision of housing to undocumented agricultural workers in the FY 2008 agricultural appropriations bill (HR 3161) failed. The bill eventually passed the bill by a vote of 237-18, which most Republicans boycotted.

The August recess provides the opportunity to bring cool conversations to the heated debate and allow for cooler heads - and temperaments - to prevail. Starting today, legislators are in their home districts for the month-long Congressional August recess. When not spending quality time with their families, Congressional leaders will be attending picnics and barbecues, back-to-school events, town hall meetings and social activities which provide a refreshing opportunity for constituents to seek out their Congressional representative.

One message from this year's immigration debate rang loud and clear - the movement for immigrants rights will be won at the grassroots level. Now is the time to make your voices heard. Your members' ears will be closer to those whose voices matter most - you.

Here are some tips on bringing your concerns and how to bring your representative to your backyard cookout and gathering:

  1. Contact Your Members' District Offices

  2. Check FCNL's online Congressional directory for your members' contact information, as well as background information, committee assignments, and voting records. You can also call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or check the government pages of your phone book.

  3. Schedule a Meeting or Host an Event: Invite Your Congressperson!

  4. For tips on how to schedule a visit click here. For tips on making your visit successful click here. Remember to invite Congressional staff as well.

  5. Share Your Voice in Town Hall Meetings

  6. Some members host August Town Hall meetings in their districts. Visit and for your members' websites and information.

  7. Involve the Press

  8. Invite the press to events and write letters to the editor. If you are hosting an event with a Congressional member work with your member's office to include local reporters.

  9. Maintain the Momentum

  10. After sharing your concerns, make sure you establish a verbal or written relationship with your Congressperson. Identify her/his key aides including the legislative aide involved in immigration policy, civil and human rights matters.