Back to Top

I Have a Confession

I have a confession: I talk about my congressperson more than I talk to my congressperson. I talk about politics more than I participate in politics.

I often rant about how disappointed, upset, or annoyed I am for how my representative voted on this or that, how he does not care, listen or have any sense. Is that gossip? Maybe. But, more importantly it is unproductive. What if I instead went to the actual person and let him know how he has disappointed me and then addressed how we can move forward?

Eugene Cho’s new book, Overrated, poses the question we want to avoid, “Are we more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world?” To young justice-lovers this question may sting because deep down we know that activism is more than ‘liking’ or retweeting an article. Changing the world comes at a cost and takes work. Now I ask myself, am I more in love with the idea of immigration reform than actually working toward making immigration reform a reality? Or, am I more interested in the idea of contacting my representative than actually contacting my representative?

Polls demonstrate that 70% of Americans want comprehensive immigration reform. If a majority of people agree we need reform, why has it not happened yet? The easy answer and reality is because Congress failed us this summer after not addressing the legislation that the Senate passed in June. Why would the House not take this up? Did they ignore us? Or did they not hear from us enough on this pressing issue? If 70% of Americans made one phone call or sent a letter to their respective congressperson, maybe we would not be stuck where we are now. But, here is the good news: it isn’t too late. We can still call. Reform still hasn’t passed. 1,000 people are still being deported a day. There is still a lot to do.

I visited my new representative for the first time a few weeks ago. I thought I would be one among many in the crowd and simply wanted to make a single statement that I think immigration reform is still critical for our future and for him to briefly respond. To my surprise, I was one of three who showed up, so I essentially had a private meeting talking reform with my representative for about an hour. I found out three things.

1) My representative is a human being. I was shocked how approachable and willing he was to converse with me. At a certain point in the conversation, I almost forgot with whom I was speaking because the conversation was both casual and interactive. I do not know who I imagined my representative to be, but above all he is a human whose job it is to engage with his constituents (us).

2) He does not have all the answers or completely accurate information. I was surprised how misinformed he was on immigration and how he viewed immigration reform advocates. I realized how important it is for us to speak with them to hold them accountable to correct information and to clarify our position.

3) He takes his job seriously enough that he talked with me for an hour. Congress people are motivated by the wants and needs of their constituents. They represent us, therefore need to know what their constituents wants. It is crucial that immigration reform advocates continue to be vocal and present so they know this issue is incredibly important to their constituents.  It is too easy to say that calling, writing, and attending do not make a difference and that Congress will continue to follow its agenda with or without us. Citizens have this right; the undocumented people of this country do not. Speak for those living in the shadows.

Though, some of us have called. Some of us have been emailing. We have attended meeting after meeting and our representative is no longer fazed by our remarks or presence. At this point we may want to throw up our hands and shake them furiously because we are angry, frustrated, and confused. Let us instead throw up our hands to God, the one who loves the both the congressperson and immigrant the most, and continue to #pray4reform to the one who has convicted us to participate in this work to begin with. May his strength work through us who are tired of engaging and frustrated that reform has not passed and that we are not being heard. Let his strength run through you to not give up. We must continue to pressure Congress. Whether it will be your 1st or 100th phone call, now is still the time to tell your representative we need comprehensive immigration reform and that we haven’t given up.

  1. Who is my representative
  2. Congressional switchboard number: 202-224-3121
  3. Simply read this script: “As a constituent and a person of faith, I am deeply concerned with the brokenness of our immigration system and its effect on undocumented immigrants. Many of the policies in place today are old and unjust, resulting in broken families and a perpetual underclass of immigrants desiring to achieve citizenship without the ability to do so. This is not only harmful for the millions of immigrants who desire to assimilate and naturalize to the United States; it is harmful to the very well-being of U.S. society. We need an up to date immigration system that provides workable legal pathways for future immigrants and for current immigrants who are in the U.S. without legal status. I urge you to take leadership towards and vote on bi-partisan legislation that will accomplish that goal.”

Editor's note: Canadians, interested in relating to your MPs or MPPs? Here's a blog post for you

[Image: Flickr user SEIU]

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.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.