August Recess: the key to pushing immigration reform forward in the House of Representatives

In just a few days, Congress will enter recess for nearly a month.  Members of Congress will be returning to their districts to meet with constituents and work to expand their base of support.

In light of immigration reform’s prospects in the House of Representatives, hundreds of faith based organizations, business associations, and private citizens –members from nearly all sectors of society – have planned an inspiring number of grassroots efforts intended to convince members of Congress to make the push for immigration reform once they all return to Washington. The number of these advocacy efforts, as well as their truly innovative nature, is nothing less than remarkable.  At a recent congressional briefing held by the Alliance for Citizenship, Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) announced that advocacy campaigns will take place in the districts of 52 House Republicans labeled as “target” individuals.  In those 52 target districts, Martinez identified a total of 360 distinct campaigns.  These campaigns, though co-sponsored by a few other organizations, are still nowhere near to capturing the total number of grassroots efforts that hundreds of other local civil society organizations will sponsor during the August recess.

Advocacy campaigns, especially in high numbers like those projected to occur during the August recess, can accomplish a lot in the  push for immigration reform in the House.  Members of Congress take the opinions of their constituents seriously, and are inclined to focus their attention on the issues that their constituents champion.  As local citizens are directly responsible for electing members of Congress, a strong indication from constituents in favor of immigration reform can give them the confidence they need to put their support behind legislation that includes a path to citizenship.

In addition to planning in-district visits with members of the House, many of these organizations have gathered materials for successful advocacy campaigns.  Reading through these toolkits is a great way to begin learning about the multiple dimensions that define a successful advocacy campaign. Drawing on useful pieces of advice from multiple toolkits can result in the formation of very strong campaigns.

Please take a look at some of the resources included in the toolkits provided below:

·        Jewish Council for Public Affairs: https://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5145/c/627/images/august%20recess%20toolkit.pdf

·        Alliance For Citizenship: https://wewerestrangerstoo.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/a4c-august-recess-toolkit.pdf

·        Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service-  http://lirs.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/AugustRecessCIRToolkit072513.pdf

·        Accountable Congress (a project that tracks events in congressional districts during the August recess) – http://www.accountablecongress.com/

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