Field Toolkit for 5.24.13- 6.3.13 Congressional Recess- Take Action!!

Memorial Day Recess

 Immigration Reform

5.24.13- 6.3.13

Field Toolkit

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 Photo: Faith Leaders Pray in Hart Senate building during Senate Judiciary Mark Up


For the last few months, people of faith have dominated news headlines and defined the terms of the national debate for comprehensive immigration reform. People of faith have been an extremely important part of this movement both in creating hundreds even thousands of congressional visits, actions, vigils and by calling into their senators leading up to and during the recent amendment process in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which helped get modest improvements to the bill and defend the bill against anti-immigrant amendments.


We must drive this momentum we’ve generated and continue it during this important upcoming Memorial Day congressional recess. From Friday, May 24 thru Sunday, June 2, Senators and House members will be back at home, meeting with constituents, donors, and voters where they’ll be confronted about several issues, and immigration will be central.

We are entering a new phase as now the bipartisan Senate bill goes to the floor for debate in June, and a House bill becomes more public. We must escalate our actions. We need to know where our elected officials stand, continue to isolate the opposition and not allow them to hijack or take control of the immigration debate with fear tactics, and continue to activate our supporters to be vocal and visible in the push forward. We need to continue to show the strength and power of our movement, and work to protect and extend the path to citizenship for all and ensure family unity is at the heart of the reform law.


This Memorial Day recess should focus on three areas:

Congressional Visits: Schedule meetings with members of Congress and/or their staff to share your stories, leave behind the report about the economic benefits of immigration reform for the state. Neighbor-to-Neighbor Toolkit IIC resource on Congressional Visits.

Raise Visibility at Congressional Town Halls: Organize lots of people to attend and speak at congressional town halls to urge Senator and Representatives to support Immigration Reform. Call Your Senator Today and Ask when and where the Town Hall Meetings will be held. Find Preliminary List at this Link

Interfaith Vigils: Bring together many people of faith and pray for immigration reform at a symbolic public place, even the Senator’s office. Family Unity Vigil Toolkit

Veterans and Memorial Day: Join a Memorial day event with immigrant veterans, Op-eds from Immigrant Veterans or faith leaders who are veterans.



  • Schedule Local Congressional Meetings- Neighbor to Neighbor Visits- over recess May24- June 3rd, try and get a face to face with member if possible.
  • Get Senators and House members on the record in support of comprehensive immigration reform
  •  Escalate activities and visibility in the community, to Senators and members of Congress, and neutralize any opposition that may arise to make sure the public narrative is one of welcoming immigrants
  • Lift up the faith voice and show support in numbers from your congregation
  •  Generate local media news coverage of local and state events about our core principles and the faith perspective
  • Continue the momentum that America needs a solution to our broken immigration system this year

Draft Talking Points for Congressional Visits

Introductions: The Facilitator should start the meeting by thanking the member for their time, introducing

the group as a whole, and then having each person introduce themselves. Each participant should state the faith community they represent to show the power of the group.

People of faith throughout _____________ (town/city/state) are committed to acting out our faith by

being good neighbors to immigrant families. We do this by _______________ (describe the work you and other faith communities have done in support of immigrants – ESL classes, legal clinics, advocacy, etc.

We are encouraged by the work of the bipartisan group of 8 senators who have drafted the immigration bill, S.744, that recently was approved by a bipartisan group of senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee. We would like to share with you why this legislation is so important to us, and urge your support to help enact immigration reform that prioritizes family unity and creates a pathway to citizenship.

Personal Story: Share a personal story showing the need for immigration reform.

Specific Issue Points: Provide the materials, including the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s Letter for Compassionate Immigration Reform and compiled faith statements regarding S.744, and explain why specific issues, such as family unity and a path to full citizenship, are important to your community.


Path to Full Citizenship – Currently, there are very few ways for someone who is undocumented,

including undocumented youth, to become documented. We have been generally pleased thus far that the Senate bill would create a process by which undocumented immigrants can earn a pathway to full

citizenship. We are concerned, however, that many people would not be eligible due to the stringent income and employment criteria, and the cut-off date of January 1, 2012. We urge Senators to support amendments to make the pathway to citizenship more accessible, and to oppose amendments that would delay or narrow the pathway laid out in the current Senate bill.


Family Unity – Families are the basic unit of strong communities. Thousands of families have been

separated by detention and deportation, and should be reunited. Lengthy visa backlogs force families to choose between being separated for extended periods of time or illegally entering the country.

Immigration reform must strengthen the family immigration system. We appreciate the positive reforms to family unity in the bill, specifically making it easier for green card holders to reunite with their spouse and minor children. We are disappointed, however, that the current Senate bill would prevent U.S. citizens from sponsoring their sister, brother, and married children over the age of 30. We urge Senators to support amendments that would make it easier for these family members to be reunited.


Humanitarian Principles – Record deportations and record spending on interior enforcement and

border security have led to hundreds of thousands families being separated. It is now time to reform the broken immigration system. We urge Senators to oppose amendments that would make the enforcement ‘triggers’ more stringent and unnecessarily increase enforcement actions.


Make your ask: We believe that in order to truly be good neighbors to immigrants living and working in our communities, we must recognize the contributions and value they bring. Can we count on your support for the immigration reform bill, and for amendments that help reunite separated families and make the pathway to citizenship more accessible? How can we best support you in our mutual goal?


Listen well and take notes. Much of advocacy involves providing opportunities for the member to ask questions, looking for indications of their, and finding opportunities to provide helpful information. Members and staff will appreciate the chance to be heard instead of only being talked at. Ask questions and engage in conversation. Answer questions honestly. If you don’t know the answer, say that you don’t know but you will find out. Assign one person in the group to follow up.

Thank you & invitation to prayer vigil: Thank you for your time and support. We will be hosting a prayer vigil for immigration reform in the upcoming weeks. Can we count on your attendance?

Remember to get the contact information and cards for the staffers you meet. Consider also asking the member and staff to take a photo with your group – most politicians love the photo op!


Resources from Partner Groups


Sample Actions During 5.24- 6.3 Recess

  • NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus are coming to Greenville, SC to support commonsense immigration reform. Prayer Vigil and music will be followed by a talk by Sr. Simone Campbell Sunday 6/1/13 1 PM St. Anthony of Padua –
  • Chicago Religious Leadership Network of Latin America  Interfaith Prayer Day for Immigration Reform will be hosted by our partners at DePaul University!  Join Methodist BishopSally Dyck, UCC Associate Conference Minister Vertie Powers, Rabbi Brandt Rosen, and leaders of all faiths as we lift our voices for a reform bill which reflects our values of fairness and compassion.Immediately following the event, a delegation of religious leaders will walk to the Federal Building for meetings with the offices of Senators Kirk and Durbin.


Get your event in the media- see communications toolkit here

Sample Media Advisory Template

 For Immediate Release:                                      Contact: NAME, PHONE ##

April XX, 2013



THURSDAY MAY 23, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. (ET)


National Leaders and Families Keep Up Momentum for Immigration Reform

Teams of Faith Leaders and Families to Deliver Book of Testimonies to Senators Leaving on Recess


WASHINGTON, DC – As the bipartisan immigration bill heads to the Senate floor, the momentum escalates as people across the country raise their voices for commonsense immigration reform. National immigration reform leaders and immigrant families will echo this call tomorrow, announcing the next steps ahead to ensure passage of a smart and fair bill in the Senate.

National leaders will speak briefly then send off teams of families and faith leaders who will spread across key Senate offices delivering a book of testimonies and offering prayers of reflection to Senators leaving for recess. The personal entries in the book are authored by diverse aspiring citizens from across the nation who supports reform. Each visiting team will ask Senators to spend their flight home reading about the impact of the broken immigration system on American families.

Also at the press conference, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) will launch “Remember November,” a campaign where over the Memorial Day congressional recess, FIRM members in 30 states will lead over 100 voter registration rallies, town hall meetings, marches and congressional visits to remind Republicans of the power of the Latino and immigrant vote.

Latinos marched, rallied and voted in November, successfully putting pro-immigration reform lawmakers into office. We urge Republicans to remember our power as they continue to debate the immigration bill.



WHAT: Immigration Leaders from [ORGANIZATION NAME] React to Senate Immigration Bill






Sample Op-Eds (Example from Phoenix Bishop)

Getting an Op-Ed Placed Generally it is good to look for a friend who knows the editorial staff. It is often helpful to have it signed by 2-3 faith leaders or community leaders, the more well known they are, the more likely it is to get placed. It is wise to submit your Op-Ed 4-5 days before you hope it would be placed, because there is usually a queue from others who have submitted on a similar issue.


Social Media

Facebook: Take photos at the event and post to their facebook page. Tag friends in the photo as a way to show their support for the event. Use Facebook app on smart phone to load photos, and quotes quickly. Post on your local coalitions FB Page.

Twitter: Ask members to tweet using the hashtags that follow: #TimeIsNow #familyunity #faith4citizenship #CIR #RI4A #A10 #not1more #niunomas

Suggested tweets:

  • · The #TimeIsNow that we treat all people with respect, and create a path to citizenship for immigrants! #Faith4Citizenship
  • · I support immigration reform because families are too important to be destroyed over this #timeisnow lets do this! #familyunity
  • · My Faith Tradition tells me to welcome the sojourner and love my neighbor #familyunity #timeisnow #faith4citizenship
  • · I’m here today to let @SENATOR/ Representative_NAME know it’s been too long. It’s time to create a path to citizenship. @TimeIsNow
  • · Faith Communities welcome a pathway to citizenship, but lets make sure #familyunity is a priority #faith4citizenship #timeisnow
  • · Enough separation of families #not1more stop deporting our friends and congregants #timeisnow #familyunity

Interview each other, put up quotes of faith leaders. Take pictures of each other at events, and ask each other why they support immigration reform. Then your members, or you, can send this information in to

Sign up events and actions at






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