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Advocacy Works!

For the past four months, the Office of Social Justice has published a blog entitled, “The Chipping Away of U.S. Legal Immigration,” an exhaustive list of policy changes and events that happened each month regarding the U.S. immigration system. Though necessary to stay informed, reading these blogs often leaves me feeling tired and hopeless. My job is to equip churches and church members to advocate for just systems that will contribute to human flourishing. Based on these blogs, I sometimes wonder if all of our advocacy efforts make any kind of a difference, other than providing an opportunity to worship. Do our emails, postcards, tweets and calls reach anyone in power? Or do they enter a void, from which we never receive a response or see any kind of change?

Without their advocacy efforts, the trip never would have happened.

Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX) gave an interview in 2017, during which he shared a story of leading a congressional delegation to Tijuana to visit deported veterans -  legal permanent residents who served in the military but were later deported. The subject had first been introduced to him eighteen months earlier by his constituents reaching out through social media and in-person visits. Without their advocacy efforts, the trip never would have happened.

In both Canada and the U.S., constituents can contact their elected officials through phone calls, emails, letters, in-person visits, and increasingly, through social media. As of 2017, Castro shared that almost all Members of Congress are on Facebook, and most are on Twitter. Elected officials can also be found on Snapchat and Instagram. Unlike other forms of contact, social media provides an opportunity for constituents to not only engage with their legislators on different topics, but also to create awareness for these issues and mobilize support from friends and like-minded individuals. 

These different forms of communication can help sway a member’s vote.

According to the Congressional Management Foundation in the U.S., all of these different forms of communication can help sway a member’s vote if they have not yet firmly decided on an issue. Castro stated that he checks social media before voting on major issues, as well as asking his staff for a survey of constituent support based on the calls and written communications the office has received. Usually, legislators try to respond to each of the thousands of emails they receive every month, so sending repeated messages to a Member of Congress about a single topic can also serve as a way to keep a legislator engaged on that issue. 

By sharing stories of impact, constituents can also influence their officials.

Effective advocacy in Canada relies on strong, evidence-based research, something that organizations like the Centre for Public Dialogue, Kairos, and Citizens for Public Justice can help provide. This information is best shared through in-person meetings that allow officials to have nuanced conversations with their constituents. Oftentimes constituents can be an invaluable source of knowledge, as elected officials are not able to be experts on every topic on which they have to vote. By sharing stories of impact, constituents can also influence their officials to adjust their stances or enact new policies. 

Over the past several months, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in in-person meetings on both the state and the federal level. Almost all of my meetings have been amiable, with staffers willingly engaging in dialogue, responding to questions, taking notes, and even asking for policy recommendations! While I’ve been grateful for these experiences as part of my fellowship with the Office of Social Justice, ultimately, legislators prefer to hear directly from their constituents. It is their constituents to whom they have a responsibility and whom they directly serve. So take action now to “seek justice [and] help the oppressed” - because advocacy works! (Isaiah 1:17)

Take Action:
  • Check out our U.S. and Canada Biblical Advocacy 101 guides for more information on how to request in-person meetings with your elected officials

  • Email, tweet at, and call your elected officials using our action alerts

Photo by Guille Álvarez on Unsplash


The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

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