"Many people think they don't need to contact an elected official when you agree with them," said Vanessa Alderete, one of Kamala Harris' aides, when we made our office visit today. "But the Senator really appreciates hearing from constituents, and so do we. We read every email and we report on what we learn to Senator Harris."
Our Advocacy Team had a great meeting with three of Harris's aides working on immigration issues. We found out she's co-sponsoring not only the BRIDGE Act (providing a path to citizenship for "Dreamers"), but also Senate Bill 688, a bill to nullify the effect of the recent Executive order regarding border security and immigration enforcement. Kamala is definitely a champion of immigrant rights who deserves our support.
The first African American Senator to be elected to Congress in our state. Harris has made immigration a major theme. In her "maiden" speech to Congress, she spoke out eloquently against Trump's immigration's policies:
"In the early weeks of this administration, we have seen an unprecedented series of executive actions that have hit our immigrant and religious communities like a cold front, striking a chilling fear in the hearts of millions of good hardworking people."She has not only spoken out about what's wrong with Trump's approach, she has shown its terrible impact on the lives of Americans young and old. We were especially moved by Sarah Wire's story in the LA TImes about how a young Latina girl was devastated when her father was arrested on his way to work. He had been a hard-working resident for 25 years and never committed a serious offense.
When we told Harris' aides how moved we were by this story, they shared how it moved them to tears. They also told us that Senator Harris is extremely interested in stories like this about how Trump's misguided policies are impacting people's lives. If you have such a story, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Harris' aides were not only extremely well versed in all aspects of immigration, they were also very simpatico. And they were in no hurry for us to leave. Our visit lasted almost an hour.
All of us who took part in this Congressional visit learned a lot. Some of us were seasoned lobbyists; others were making their first lobby visit. Mark, who works as a teacher, brought his sixteen-year-old daughter, the youngest in our delegation. The oldest in our group (I won't mention any names) was an 80-years-old. Our delegation included a novelist, a professor, a therapist. We were racially and ethnically diverse, a microcosm of America. Each person had a chance to speak and share their stories. And everyone had something worthwhile to contribute.
After our visit, we adjourned to a coffee house called "Legal Grounds" in the basement of the Court House and had a leisurely "debriefing" over lunch. We got better acquainted with each other, and became more bonded. That's the goal of faith-based lobbying: to build long-term relationships with our elected officals, their aides and each other. That's important because we have a lot of work ahead of us if we hope to preserve our democracy and the values we hold dear. As Fatima said, the race we are running is like a marathon. And as the Apostle Paul said, the important thing in a race is to stay faithful and keep running until we reach the finish line (2 Timothy 4:7.) It's much more pleasant when we run the race together!