On Friday, January 27, 2017, Donald Trump signed the latest in a series of sweeping executive orders that have rocked the country onto its heels. The sweeping lockdown on immigration from select countries in the Middle East has stranded people at airports, gotten legitimate visa holders placed in detention, and turned away students in their last semester of study at MIT.
And there are people cheering these moves, applauding how President Trump is going to prevent terrorists from coming into the United States. Of course, they’re also ignoring how the travel ban doesn’t apply to countries where the actual 9/11 terrorists came from or countries where the Trump Organization has business interests. In light of this ugliness, it’s easy for you to feel helpless.
It’s easy to feel like a white girl holding a salted caramel latte, because you can’t even.
Don’t. Don’t feel that way. There are things that you as a concerned citizen can do. That doesn’t mean you should take to the streets and riot. Don’t participate in illegal activities. But you can draw a line in the sand and say, “no more.” Here are ways you can help your fellow human beings in these trying times.
Phone Calls Work
Per an article on Vox published in November of 2016, just after the Trump election, Emily Ellsworth, a blogger who used to work for a congressional representative, shared her opinion on how to impact your local congressman.
I worked for Congress for 6 years, and here's what I learned about how they listen to constituents.
— Emily Ellsworth (@editoremilye) November 12, 2016
Her tweets go on to say the following.
“Second, writing a letter to the district office (state) is better than sending an email or writing a letter to DC. But, the most effective thing is to actually call them on the phone. At their district (state) office. They have to talk to you there. We repped half a million people, it was impossible to read and respond personally to all letters. Impossible. This was something in particular that I cared about as a staffer and worked very hard on, but the sheer volume of emails is overwhelming. So, we batched them with computer algorithms and sent out form letters based on topic and position. Regardless of method received. But, phone calls! That was a thing that shook up our office from time. One time, a radio host gave out our district office phone # on air. He was against our immigration policy and told our constituents to call. And they did. All. Day. Long. All I did all day was answer phones. It was exhausting and you can bet my bosses heard about it. We had discussions because of that call to action. If we started getting a pattern of calls, I called up our DC office and asked if they were getting the same calls and we talked. Also, recognize that your letters and your emails get seen by staffers, just like your phone calls get answered. That’s the way of it. If you want to talk to your rep, show up at town hall meetings. Get a huge group that they can’t ignore. Pack that place and ask questions. We held town halls consistently that fewer than 50 people showed up for. And it was always the same people. So, shake it up. As always, please be kind but firm with those staffers. They will listen and talk to you. I always, always did.”
So, call your congressman and let them know you don’t like what’s happening. Because unfortunately, in this case, silence implies consent to your representative. And if you don’t consent to having innocent people turned away and blocked from returning to their homes, you need to make your voice heard.
What to Say
If you aren’t sure what to say, then use this script.
Sample Call Script Re: Refugee Admissions, 1-28-17
Department of Homeland Security Comment Line: 202-282-8495
Department of State Customer Service Line: 202-647-6575
Hello, my name is XXXX and I am calling to urge [Secretary Kelly, Acting Secretary Shannon] to use his discretion to allow refugees into the US. It is urgent for the Secretary to allow in refugees currently at US airports and in transit to the US so that they will not be sent back to countries where they will be killed. I also ask the Secretary to admit refugees who have helped US troops and those who have already been issued visas or accepted for admission into the US. To do otherwise would be bad for US interests and could be illegal under international and US Law. [You may only have time to leave this message.]
Sending a refugee back to a place where his or her life would be endangered is illegal under US and international law. Refusing to admit refugees who have been accepted for admission to the US or given visas already would put them at risk for being sent back to dangerous circumstances and would cause them tremendous suffering. If we do not admit refugees who helped US troops, this will discourage others from helping US troops in the future and gravely damage our national interests.
I urge the Secretary to act now to admit refugees whom the US has already made a commitment to help. I also urge the Secretary to continue to admit refugees who need US assistance going forward, in accordance with our prior resettlement commitments and international law.
If you’re calling your congressman, substitute the word congressman for secretary.
If you aren’t sure who your local representative is, you can use the official website to locate their contact information based on your zip code. Look up your U.S. representative here and your senator here.
It’s important to realize that your voice is important. By yourself, you may feel like you’re just yelling at the darkness, but you aren’t alone. You aren’t the only one who is feeling this way. By lending your voice and words, you’re joining the millions of people who feel that President Trump is wrong in this latest unilateral executive action. Let your voice be heard, because it’s important to realize that you can even.
[Featured Image by Andres Kudacki/AP Images]