Activism Guide: Call Your Member of Congress
Calling your Member of Congress is one of the easiest and most influential ways to communicate your thoughts. Use the guidelines below to help make your call go smoothly and ensure that your call was effective.
Call Your U.S. Senator or Representative
Visit our Action Center to enter your ZIP code and find out who represents you in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
Decide if you are going to call the office in Washington, D.C. or the closest district office. Legislative and policy matters are typically handled by the Member’s office that is located in Washington, D.C., so it’s a good idea to begin there. Local district offices generally focus on aiding constituents with a particular need, such as problems with Social Security benefits. Calling both offices can be effective, but understand what to expect when either calling the Washington, D.C. office or a district office. Typically, legislative concerns are forwarded to D.C.
Once you have located your Member, visit their official website or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to connect with the office of your member.
Understand Who Will Answer the Phone
When calling the Washington, D.C. office, a staff assistant or intern will likely answer your call. Staff assistants and interns are trained to keep phone calls short due to the large number of calls the office receives.
Don’t ask the person who answers your call how he/she personally feels about particular immigration issues. Congressional staffers are responsible for representing their Member of Congress, not themselves. They are also unlikely to have specialized knowledge of legislative issues like immigration, so don’t expect him or her to answer detailed questions about your Members’ views.
The staff assistant or intern who answers your call will be relaying your information to a more senior legislative staffer, so it is vital to be concise & speak clearly when relaying information.
When Making Your Call
To make your phone call as effective as possible, be concise and prepare your comments in advance. If it helps, write out your question ahead of time and use it as a script during your call.
During your call, stay on topic. Keep to one issue in each call. If you want to discuss other matters, call back another time.
Giving a well-organized and understandable comment means it will be more accurately passed along to the next staff member.
Provide Your Name & Address
If you are a constituent of that Member’s district, don’t forget to give your name and address so that you can receive a response letter and keep up with your Member’s response on the issue.
Be Courteous and Respectful
When making your call, always be polite. Staffers deal with ranting callers every day and will tune out any callers who yell or employ insults and obscenities. Comments of callers who are rude or disrespectful are often thrown in the trash, if they are even written down at all.
Calling Outside Your District
Don't be afraid to call a member of Congressional Leadership, such as the Speaker of the House or Senate Majority Leader, OR a Member of Congress who tends to wield particular influence over a certain policy matter. However, keep in mind that if you are not a constituent of that Member’s district, the person answering your call may refuse to take your comment. At that point, you may ask them to forward you to your Congressman’s office, if you wish.