2 Important Lessons I Learned in Washington

Photo: Creative Commons

We are standing in front of the representative’s office, mustering the courage to knock. A friend jokingly pantomimes kicking in the door, and I laugh because I almost wish we could storm the place with our impassioned plea for reform. In reality, I’m wildly intimidated.

We are, after all, on Capital Hill, one of the most powerful places on earth… right?

First, Lobbying Ain’t No Thang

Once inside the office, we were ushered to a conference room, where a young woman in her early to mid twenties sits down with a notepad, ready to hear us out. Wait… what? I came here to talk to my congressperson…

Turns out “meeting with a congressperson” is really “meeting with an aide.” I found myself both disappointed and relieved.

We visited multiple offices and never once met with an actually representative. I had no trouble telling my story to aides and scribbling notes, documenting how many people were present, where they lived and what they wanted. And I was glad to feel that my being there was being logged in a way that might lend support to the movement.

Also, thanks to Evangelical Immigration Table, I’ve realized how easy it is to simply email my representative. In many ways, politics are a numbers game and the squeaky-er our wheel, the more likely to receive attention.

Second, We Are Not Alone

I have always approached immigration from a relational justice perspective and a faith view that instructs us to welcome the stranger. I was stunned to realize how many others care about immigration reform, maybe for reasons I’m not even sure I agree with, but want to see it passed all the same.

To give you an idea, Wal-Mart was a sponsor of this event to push reform. Wal. Mart.

Yes, Wal-Mart. And the Agriculture industry was well-represented, speaking from the stage of the economic impacts of immigration. “Even farmers aren’t raising their kids to be farmers. We need workers.”

On the bus, I sat beside a woman from the Food & Beverage industry in Las Vegas. She explained to me how she’s a die-hard Republican and all her Facebook friends were railing her for attending. She was certain this issue is not counter to the Republican agenda and must be addressed for purposes of the economy.

A super cool woman from the Tech industry in Houston told me how much talent is being excluded because we won’t allow young immigrants to work. She also was wearing a Google glass, which is like a tiny, headband computer that I’d never heard of before in my life. She let me try it on because… well, she was that cool.

I came away from this event wondering who on earth is against immigration reform.

The opportunity to go to Washington was unexpected and truly blessed me. I write on this blog and Billy and I share our story whenever we are invited, but it felt empowering to actually approach elected leaders and remind them that residents of Georgia care about immigration reform.

Because we do. And we are not alone.

Have you ever approached your national representatives? What was your experience? 

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