Members of Congress go home for the month of August, making it the perfect time to schedule in-district visits with your lawmakers or their staff. The goal of these meetings is to tell your elected officials how disgusted you are with the conditions immigrants – including children – face in detention and urge them to close immigrant detention camps. Here are talking points to use during your visit.
Refresh your advocacy skills by reviewing NCJW’s Advocacy 101 training and resources. Next, read below for details on holding a meeting during August Recess. Last, tell us how your meetings went by posting on Facebook and Twitter and tagging NCJW during your meetings and filling out an advocacy visit report form after each meeting.
Schedule a Meeting
Call your lawmakers’ in-district offices to set up a meeting. Explain who you are, whom you represent, and that you and a delegation of [#] NCJW members would like 30 minutes to meet with the member of Congress to discuss the conditions of immigrant detention. Be persistent – you may need to call the office a few times to set up a meeting.
If the lawmaker is unavailable, always request to meet with the staff member(s) who works on immigration to share NCJW’s concerns with the office. Staff are important members of a legislator’s team and are relied upon heavily by the legislator.
Confirm the meeting
Confirm your meeting, including its location, in writing with the scheduler or staffer. Be sure to provide your cell phone number so that they can contact you with any last-minute changes. Share meeting details with everyone attending the meeting. Print a copy of the meeting confirmation to bring to the visit in case the scheduler doesn’t see your appointment in their calendar.
Make the Ask
Focus your August Recess 2019 in-district visits on immigrant detention camps. Speaking about only one issue during your visit will maximize its impact. Research your representative’s and senators’ history on the issue of immigrant detention, and tailor your ask accordingly. For example: Have they visited the border or a local detention camp? If not, ask them to visit. Have they called for additional oversight of immigrant detention? If not, urge them to do so. Even if your lawmaker is supportive on the issue, there is always more they can do.
You can also ask what more you can do as a part of NCJW to help #CloseTheCamps. Members of Congress or their staff might have ideas as to what support is needed, particularly from the faith or Jewish community, to advance the issue.
Here are talking points to use during your visit.
Leave Behind Folder
It’s important to leave behind a folder of information at each meeting. Below are suggested materials to include in the folder. These resources will also be helpful when preparing for your visit.
- #CloseTheCamps Talking Points – NCJW
- Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General Report “Concerns About ICE Detainee Treatment and Care at Four Detention Facilities,” June 3, 2019 (“highlights” on page 3)
- “Real Alternatives to Detention” – American Immigration Lawyers Association, Lutheran Immigration, and Refugee Service, National Immigrant Justice Center, Women’s Refugee Commission, Migration & Refugee Services
- “Five Investments in Our Immigration System to Address the ‘Crisis’ At the Border” – Immigration Hub
It’s a good idea to also include local NCJW information (brochures, bulletins, etc.) and a business card in each leave behind folder.
After the Visit
Send a thank-you note to the staff and/or lawmakers with whom you met restating your asks. Hold them accountable for any promises made during the visit and include any information you promised to provide. In-district visits provide a great opportunity to build relationships with members of Congress and their staff, which you can nurture long after your visit is over.
Don’t forget to let NCJW Inc. know how your visit went by filling out an advocacy visit report form after each meeting. You can either complete the form online or download a template form to bring with you to the meeting. If you download the form, scan and send it to Faith Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.