You are on page 1of 2

GUIDE TO CONTACTING YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

Methods of Contacting your Legislators

 Write a letter. Letters are an important and effective way to introduce yourself and
your purpose. Short handwritten letters are best, and always remember to be specific
about the action you want your member of Congress to take (e.g. sponsor the DREAM
Act when it is introduced). Only send letters to the Representative from your local
Congressional District or the Senators from your state. Your vote helps elect them -- or
not -- and that fact alone carries a lot of weight. Sending the same "cookie-cutter"
message to every member of Congress may grab attention but rarely much consideration.
Make sure to include your full address so that they know you live in their district. Avoid
petitions, as they are not as effective. (See Sample Letter to Legislator below)

 Make a Phone Call. You can call your U.S. Senator or Representative by contacting the
Capitol Hill switchboard at 1-202-224-3121. Once you are connected to the right office,
ask to speak to the staff member who handles immigration. Clearly have in mind a
specific request of your representative (become an original cosponsor of the DREAM
Act).

 Meet with your Member of Congress. This is the most effective method of lobbying.
o You can organize a meeting with your Member of Congress or his or her staff in
their Washington, DC or district (hometown) office. Members of both the House
and Senate will be in their district office on the following dates, so schedule your
district visits on these dates:
 April 6 - April 17
 May 25 - May 29
 June 29 - July 3
 August 3 - September 4 (Senate: August 10- September 7)

o Representatives often host town hall meetings open to the public where you can
ask questions about specific issues. Call your member's district office (check the
blue section of the telephone book for the telephone number) to see if any are
scheduled.

o Invite your Member of Congress to a DREAM event you have organized.

Preparing for your meeting


Wherever or whomever you meet, always prepare thoroughly for your conversation.

1
o Familiarize yourself with basic information about the DREAM Act (below) and
the talking points.

o Practice what you are going to say. Practicing will build your confidence and
add to your effectiveness.

At the meeting
o Be specific. Make a point to mention the bill by number, give reasons why you
support the bill, and let them know that you are a constituent.
o Be accurate. To build a working relationship and get action, you need to be a
credible source of information. If you don't know something, just say so. Tell
them you will find out and get back to them. Contact anyone on the United We
Dream Policy Team (listed below) for help getting answers to questions.

o Be persistent. If you find that the staff people you need to speak with are out of
the office, leave a message for them with your name and number. If they don't
return your call within two to three days, then call again. Keep track of your calls,
but remember that they are very busy.

Following Up
After meeting with a member of Congress or an aide from his or her office, it's important
to continue to build on the relationship. You will need to stay on top of the situation. To
maintain contact:
o Get the name of the staff person you speak to and try to deal with the same person
each time. The ultimate goal is to build a positive, long-term relationship.

o Thank your representatives for listening to your concerns.

o Provide information as needed. Send a follow email sending any information


requested during the meeting. If there any articles, events related to DREAM,
forward to the staffer. Use your discretion so as not to overwhelm or email the
staffer.

o If they take action, commend them publicly, including letters to the editor or
items in newsletters. (Be sure to share them with their staff.)

o Help UWD stay connected and coordinated by completing meeting evaluation


forms. It only takes a minute and increases our collective effectiveness
exponentially.