Contacting Members of Congress
NEW TOOLKIT FOR AUGUST RECESS
JULY 31 - SEPTEMBER 4 2017
It is more important than ever to meet with your local, state, and national policy makers to educate them about the vital role that refugees and all newcomers play in your communities. Because the process of change takes time, meetings with policy makers should be viewed as part of a continuing process of gather and sharing information, building relationships, and developing and carrying out advocacy strategies.
A good time to meet with your Members of Congress and / or their staff is during Congressional recesses when they are in their states and local offices; the annual August recess from 31 July - 4 September 2017.
Refugee Council USA created this Toolkit to assist you, at the grassroots level, to engage effectively with your representatives during August recess. The Toolkit contains steps for preparing and organizing your meeting, representative's contact information, and even sample letters, call-in scripts, and tweets that you can use to elevate your support for refugees in your community.
Global Context & The Need for Advocacy
65.3 million people are displaced globally, the highest numbers since World War II. The Syrian conflict alone has left nearly 8 million Syrians internally displaced and caused almost 5 million Syrian refugees to seek safety in other countries. While resettlement is not the answer to solve global conflicts, it is a life saving solution and a visible demonstration of support for front line countries that host large numbers of refugees.
It is important to share information about how the resettlement process works, the contributions that refugees make in communities around the U.S., and to let your Senators and Representative know that you care about displaced people overseas and refugees resettled in the United States.
Increased Funds Are Needed to Protect Refugees Internationally and Resettle Refugees in the U.S.
It is critical that refugee admissions are accompanied by robust international assistance and funds to ensure local communities in the U.S. have the resources they need to help welcome refugees and foster self-sufficiency and integration. All refugees should be adequately welcomed and provided the opportunity to succeed in their new communities.
COMBATTING Anti-Refugee Sentiment
There has been a lot of attention paid to those who do not choose to continue the proud American tradition of welcoming families who were forced to flee in order to find safety and security. However, communities around the country continue to welcome refugees from around the world. Increasing numbers of people are volunteering their time and resources to help refugees start their lives anew in the United States. Congregations, businesses, civic groups and community leaders are actively working to promote refugee resettlement. These stories need to be told in all sorts of different ways, including to decision makers. It is critical that policy makers learn about the importance of resettlement from refugees themselves and supportive community members. We want policy makers to both support positive legislation and oppose proposals that would harm refugees or otherwise undo our strong tradition of providing welcome.
Positive Reforms to Help Refugees and Communities
There are positive pieces of legislation that have been introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that would improve the U.S. refugee resettlement program that would help refugees reunite with family members, better integrate into their communities, and succeed in their new lives. Many of these bills have had bipartisan support but can only pass if more Members of Congress are knowledgeable about resettlement and held accountable by constituents calling for change. Learn more about these bills.
The Power of Advocacy
Your story as a refugee, staff member, or supporter of refugee resettlement is your most important qualification as an advocate! Through phone calls, emails, or in-person meetings, you can talk about the way your community welcomes refugees, the reasons refugees need more assistance, and the many and varied positive contributions refugees make to your community. When policy makers know that their constituents care about refugees, they will increasingly vote for increased funding for refugee protection and resettlement, as well as productive policies that help refugees.
Connect with your Members of Congress
Look up their direct contact information here:
State and Local Officials
it is also important that your state and local officials hear from you as well. You can contact your Governor, State House Senators and Delegates, Mayor, City Council, Council Executives, and more. Find directories to contact them here.