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Engaging your Senators and Representatives on Twitter

Twitter is a great tool for engaging people that you wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to converse with, but it’s important to remember that engagement can be a process rather than an overnight success. Here are some tips and guidelines on opening a dialogue with your Senator.

Be polite. Be useful. Be interesting. Be unique. Be personable.


Write a letter to your elected official

Congress needs to hear from you. They need to know you support immigration reform and expect them to fix the broken system this year. We’ve included the sample letter below to your senator and representatives. Feel free to use this draft, modify it or write your own letter. The important thing is that you write the Congress today!

We’ve included the sample letter below to your senator or representative.  Feel free to use this draft, modify it or write your own letter.  The important thing is that you write the Congress today!

Click here to view a Sample Letter
Date

The Honorable ________
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

OR

The Honorable ___________
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515


Dear Senator/Representative:

I am writing today to urge you to support common sense immigration reform that will give hard-working immigrants an opportunity to earn American citizenship.  It is essential that Congress fix our broken immigration system this year.

I am particularly concerned about the young immigrants who were brought here as children, raised in communities and educated at our schools.  They are our friends, neighbors and classmates.  These undocumented youth currently have no way of ever becoming American citizens.  No matter how hard working or successful, these young people face deportation to countries they may not remember where people speak languages they may not know.  Congress must fix this.

The current broken system fails all of us.  By preventing talented immigrants from contributing fully to our economy, we both hamper our economic growth and waste tremendous resources on an enforcement system that all agree does not work.  The cost to deport all of those here without proper status would be staggering, with estimates that cost $23,000 to deport a single immigrant.  This makes no economic sense.

As Congress considers how to overhaul our nation’s immigration laws this year, I hope that you will keep these views in mind.  This issue is extremely important to me and to our nation’s future.  Please support common sense immigration reform and finally fix this broken system.

Thank you for your consideration.


Sincerely,

Your Name
Your Title
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip
Your Phone Number

Legislative Visit Tips

  1. Legislative Meetings
    Organizations are scheduling meetings with their representatives during this time to share individual stories and press for immigration reform.
  2. Calls to Congress
    Participate in call-in days to your Representatives to press for immigration reform dialing 866-563-5608.
  3. Education Workshops on the Immigration Reform Bill
    Attend an education workshop. Organizations are scheduling educational workshops to help community members understand what is currently in the bill and explain the legislative process on how a bill becomes a law. 
  4. Civic engagement
    It is important for us to continue to remind elected officials about the 2012 election and how much the immigrant vote mattered and will matter in the future. Don’t forget to register to vote and vote!

How to Meet with Your Legislator

Arrive early and as a group
Remember that you are not the only people meeting with the legislator and staff that day.  Arriving early may give you extra time and always makes you look more professional.  Late group members should politely wait outside the office rather than interrupt a meeting in progress. 
Introduce yourselves.
Briefly introduce yourselves individually and be sure to include your organization’s name and where you are from.

Have your group leader explain that you represent an important voice in your legislator’s district.
Keep your presentation simple.
Create your talking points in advance.  Know your facts and have your information easily at hand.  Stay away from using acronyms.

Tell powerful stories.  Stories are one of the most effective ways to leave a lasting impact on legislators and congressional staff.  A powerful story creates an emotional connection to an issue and links it to deeper values and personal experience.

Seek concrete commitments.  Come prepared to ask your legislator to take specific actions in support of your issues (e.g., introduce or cosponsor legislation, vote in favor or against a specific bill, communicate support to House or Senate leadership or head of a specific committee).  Seek clear yes or no responses to your asks, and be prepared to follow up.

Stay positive.  If a legislator or their staff ask questions you cannot answer that day, feel free to let them know that you could send them that information when you return to their district.

Stay polite.  You might disagree with a legislator or their staff; if so, make your point and move on.  You want to inform them of your position and make them feel comfortable going to you as a source of information in their district. 

Listen well.  Let them ask questions.  You may find new opportunities to interact with the legislator.


Sample Introduction to Legislator or Staff Member

Hello Mr./Ms. __________.  I’d like to first thank you for taking the time to meet with us today.  My name is _______________.  Our group has come from [STATE] in support of common-sense immigration reform. We come from different organizations, but together we represent an important voice in your district. During our time with you today, we’d like to discuss our concerns about and proposals for addressing ___________ [state your group’s priority issues].


Sample Legislative Meeting Request Letter

April XX, 2013

The Honorable First Name Last Name
Address
Address

Dear Senator/Representative Last Name:

On behalf of Group Name, located in City, State, I am writing to request a meeting with you and your staff on the morning of Day, Month, 2013 to discuss issues pertinent to the immigration reform bill.

Along with # members of Group Name and other leaders from the state (or your district is meeting on Long Island) Group Name works to improve opportunities for xx Americans (Make this specific to your organization) to raise awareness and support for legislative issues affecting the immigrant community. We wish to discuss issues and legislation, including immigration reform and secondary priority issue(s), which concern the immigrant population in State.

We are excited about this opportunity to speak with you and help shape a policy agenda that benefits all Americans. Please contact me at phone number or email address if you have any questions. I will follow up with your office next week. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Name
Title


Town Hall Tips

Generally, town hall meetings offer three opportunities for your voice to be heard:

  1. Raise your hand; ask a question. Best case scenario: the Member actually wants to hear from constituents (rare, but it can happen).
  2. Submit questions in writing beforehand. Member gets to answer only those questions he or she want to answer.

Here are some suggestions for all three scenarios:

  1. Oral questions: Make a point in the form of a question, quickly.
    What do you want to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom have lived here for over a decade, and contribute to our economy and society?

    What do you have to say to families who live in constant fear of being torn apart? Or to parents and children who have already been separated through the deportations and detentions of adults who, other than their immigration status, did not commit any crimes?

    Deportations are higher than ever under the Obama administration, while border-crossing has reached a 40 year low. Since the border is largely secure, would you oppose a trigger mechanism in immigration reform?
  2. Written questions: Make a point in the form of a question, with a little more detail.
    According to various polls, a majority of Americans support a pathway to citizenship. Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” plan was by and large rejected. Where do you stand on an earned pathway to citizenship for the undocumented members of our community?

    In an unprecedented demonstration of unity between labor and business, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO issued joint principles on immigration reform last week. If these constantly conflicting entities can do it, why can’t Congress work together and find common ground?

Digital Tools

With the Senate’s bill introduced, we must ramp up our contacts, especially calls, to our Senators to fight to improve the bill and keep it moving forward. We will also use our digital tools to share photos and videos, and promote turnout for district office visits and other events during the recess. Please use the hashtag #p2c for pathway to citizenship, and #timeisnow, so others can follow our work happening across the country during the recess.

Sample Twitter post: Tell our Senators: the time is NOW for immigration reform w/a roadmap to citizenship! http://bit.ly/call-for-reform #timeisnow #p2c


Sample Facebook message: Call on your Senators now to support reform now that creates a fair pathway to full citizenship! http://bit.ly/call-for-reform

 

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