One minute, one finger, your cell phone and five words. That is all you need to let our legislators know how you feel about any particular law or policy that you think deserves some attention. In the Moline Community Center, close to 200 people got their phones out and began bombarding Washington with calls during the Working for Change, immigration conference that took place on Feb. 24th. Keynote speaker Dr. Juan Hernandez asked everyone in the place to get their cell phones out and then instructed them to dial (202) 224-3041, it is the Washington offices of Republican U.S. Senator Mel Martinez of Florida. As he makes the call, he puts his blackberry phone up to the microphone and lets us hear through the speaker system. The voicemail picks up and he says his name,
where he’s from and the five words “I support comprehensive immigration reform.”
He hangs up and it only took less than one minute. He said he did the same when he spoke at a university campus earlier in the week were about 3,000 students called California Senator and Speaker of the House Nanci Pelosi. He said they filled up her voicemail box but he gave us the number anyways to try again. We all start dialing (202) 225-4965 and as he predicted the voicemail box was full. He told people to write down the numbers to call at a later time if they couldn’t get through at that moment. I saved the two numbers on my cell phone.
This is part of a new strategy that he is promoting, along with his new book “The New American Pioneers,” where as he travels across the country and the media circuit he is getting as many large crowds as he can to call the Washington offices of our elected officials. He says that these calls make a difference; I mean imagine you are a senator or representative and you get 3,000 voicemails saying that they support comprehensive immigration reform. You might think that people actually support comprehensive immigration reform and not a simplistic “build a wall and deport them” approach.
Now you don’t need thousands or hundreds of people, you can do it right before a meeting with a school organization like any of the Latinos Unidos around the area, a church group, or any other instance where you have a group of people with cell phones. Even of only ten calls are made on a particular day, then that is ten more calls that will call attention to this important issue.
Now I took more than one minute and gathered the numbers of some of our elected officials that can be reached very easily, but the calls I made to them took only seconds. Here they are and I hope you can do this before you go on reading other articles.
Representative Phil Hare D-Ill. 17th District Washington office: (202) 225-5905.
Representative Donald Manzullo R-Ill. 16th District Washington office: (202) 225-5676.
Representative Bruce Braley D-Iowa 1st District Washington office: (202) 225-2911.
Senator Barak Obama D-Ill. Washington office: (202) 224-2854.
Senator Richard Durbin D-Ill. Washington office: (202) 224-2152.
Senator Tom Harkin D-Iowa Washington office: (202) 224-3254.
Senator Chuck Grassley D-Iowa Washington office: (202)224-3744.
If you have extra time write to them, but this is easy enough that anyone can do it without saying that they don’t have time for it. Take one minute; make a difference because like Dr. Juan Hernandez said if comprehensive immigration reform is not passed in the next five months before congress takes a break, then they will sit on it until after the 2008 elections. Especially since Sens. John McCain R-Ariz. and Ted Kennedy D-Mass. are expected to reintroduce a comprehensive reform bill this week. The time to act is now, try calling these numbers, it actually feels good knowing that you helped make a difference by only taking one minute and saying the five words.