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Neighbor to Neighbor
April 03, 2009

Neighbor to Neighbor
Visits to Your Member of Congress in Support of Immigrant Families


Theological Grounding:

Our hospitality for our newly arrived neighbors is supported by the sacred texts of all faiths, and is rooted in the inherent integrity and humans rights of all individuals.

For Christians, Jesus teaches that in welcoming the sojourner, we welcome Jesus himself. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35). The ethic between neighbors that Jesus models and teaches for all of his followers to exemplify is found in the Good Samaritan story, when he defines who the good neighbor is as “the one who showed mercy” (Luke 10:37).

The Hebrew Bible teaches that “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

In Islam, care for the neighbor is affirmed in teachings to “seek for mankind that of which you are desirous for yourself, that you may be a believer; treat well as a neighbor the one who lives near you” (Sunnah). 


Between April 6-17 faith communities throughout the United States will be conducting Neighbor to Neighbor visits with their members of Congress while they are at home in their districts on Congressional Recess.

If you haven’t gotten started organizing for this, now is a great time to make what should be a very powerful opportunity for sharing with your Representatives your passion to serve your immigrant neighbors and your hopes and expectations for what Congress should be doing to fix a broken immigration system in a just and humane way.

The momentum is building and House and Senate offices are excited about the conversations you will be having with your Members of Congress throughout the country in April!

As we continue to send the message that the faith community is ready for comprehensive immigration reform to be passed this year, here are four things you can do this week: 

  • Find a small group of people to attend the meeting with you. There are a couple of ways you can be strategic on this: either do a meeting with just your faith community which covers the district or state your Member represents, or find a number of representatives from various faith groups in your community. You want to have people who are in direct relationship with immigrant neighbors so that they can share their stories and how the broken immigration system impacts them. We have been asked about the size of the group quite a bit, and normally, somewhere between 5-10 works well, but a larger size can be a powerful sign of support for the issue as well. You might check with the scheduler to see what is acceptable for them and always be sure your meeting is focused on the message and controlled as to who is delivering that message.

  • Call your Member’s in-district office and schedule a meeting sometime when they are home during the April 6-17 recess. You can find that number just by Googling their name. Please see below for tips on getting started and setting up your meeting.

  • Schedule a call or time for meeting participants to sit and talk over how the meeting should flow. You don’t want to show up to the meeting with having never talked, so go ahead and find a time that everyone can talk and begin to plan it out.


Neighbor-to-Neighbor In-District Meetings

Establishing close relationships with your members of congress is crucial to enacting humane immigration reform. 

Purpose of Neighbor to Neighbor In-District Meetings:

  1. To understand where the member stands on the issue.

  2. To understand that member’s interests.

  3. To (hopefully) get a commitment of support for our issue.

  4. To build relationships between our people and public officials and institutions influencing our community.

  5. To train ourselves to “act” in public arenas.
Because the process of change takes time, lobby visits should be viewed as a part of a larger process. We need to gather information, build power, and continually get better at what we do and how we do it.



BEFORE YOU MEET

Have a plan

Before you enter into a lobby visit always meet before hand and assign roles! Roles should include who will credential the group, who will take lead on each issue, who will make the ask and who will jump in if someone decides to lobby on an issue the group had not agreed to upfront.

The Credential

This is who you are and who you represent! You are more than ‘a constituent’. You are a constituent who represents other constituents back home and you’ll report back to them. Remember, politicians pay attention to numbers.

The Team Work

It is important to follow the plan you set during the pre-meeting. Of course you’ll need to be flexible.

The Ask

Why just tell them what you want – Ask if they’ll support you! “Can we count on the Senator’s su

Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
communications@jrsusa.org
202-462-0400 ext. 5946