This week, your federal elected officials are home for District/State work. This provides you with the opportunity to visit their local offices and events such as town hall meetings and advocate for needed reforms even if you were unable to be in Washington, D.C. for the “official” NDA.
If you are an AILA member, I urge you to get involved in local NDA-related activities this week. You can find your local coordinator here. So when you go to your Congressmember’s office, or local event, what do you do? What do you say? Here is some background (from AILA) and a concise message on three specific issues:
1. VAWA re-authorization. Background: “First enacted in 1994, VAWA includes several provisions that protect battered immigrants whose noncitizen status can make them particularly vulnerable to crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The abusers of undocumented immigrants often exploit the victims’ immigration status, leaving the victim afraid to seek services or report the abuse to law enforcement and making them fearful of assisting with the investigation and prosecution of these crimes. Through the VAWA self-petition, T visas, and U visas, VAWA enhances the safety of victims and their children and provides an important tool for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes. The current VAWA reauthorization bill, S. 1925, was introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and has an additional 61 co-sponsors (as of March 22) of which 8 are Republicans and 53 are Democrats. In February, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill and soon the full Senate will vote on it. The House does not yet have a bill. In the Judiciary Committee, Senator Grassley won inclusion of an amendment that would make it an aggravated felony upon a third drunk driving conviction. If this provision stays in the bill it will be the first time since VAWA was enacted that VAWA includes provisions not germane to its purpose of protecting victims of violence.” The Message: Keep VAWA focused on protecting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
2. Detention funding. Background: “This year, the American taxpayers will spend over $2 billion to detain 34,000 immigrants per day—an arbitrary, congressionally-set figure not based on demonstrated need. By law, some individuals must be detained. But thousands of others do not. ICE has all the tools it needs to safely release thousands of individuals it chooses to hold in detention.” The Message: Immigration detention is costly to taxpayers and should be used only when necessary. ICE has other options, like bond and ankle bracelets.
3. Prosecutorial discretion. Background: “In June 2011, ICE issued an updated policy on prosecutorial discretion and in November, it issued additional guidelines on how it would be implementing the policy. ICE said it would put on-hold low priority cases pending before the overburdened immigration court so that it could focus on individuals posing a risk to national security and public safety, and other priorities.” The Message: Prosecutorial discretion by ICE is about prioritizing resources and ensuring fair and just outcomes. Discretion strengthens enforcement.
If in-person advocacy is not your cup of tea, why not make your voice heard via Twitter? You can find your member of Congress here (scroll down to search by name or zip code), or see a list of accounts for various government agencies and elected officials here. Logged in to Twitter, found your Congressmember and unsure what to say? Lucky for you, the “messages” above are all under 140 characters long – all you have to do is “tweet” them.