On Saturday morning the organizations Mi Familia Vota and MIRA USA organized a phone banking session intended to reach out to the Hispanic community and encourage them to contact their local members of Congress in support of immigration reform.
Twelve volunteers were tasked with calling registered voters and asking whether they support what they referred to as “commonsense immigration reform”. If the response was positive they would be given a number to contact either Dennis Ross' or Gus Bilrakis' office.
“The reform hasn't been passed in the House,” said Angela Trujillo, Tampa Branch Director of MIRA USA. “We need their vote. We want to create a consciousness and tell the people to ask their representative to vote for it.”
The districts of Bilrakis and Ross were the session's primary target, as the two congressmen were the Bay area's representatives of the House contingent opposing the passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, the bill crafted by the Gang of Eight that made its way out of the Senate this past June.
While it will likely be a contentious issue once the House returns from their summer break, Trujillo feels that by informing people about the fact of the law and removing negative misconceptions, support will grow.
“Many people, even though we are all speaking about immigration reform, many people don't know exactly what is going on and what exactly they are asking for. Many don't know the difference between passing citizenship right away or not. So that's another part we're doing. Educating people, giving information on what's going on.”
Volunteers found that most recipients were responding positively to their calls.
“The experience has been great,” said Juan-Carlos Serrano, who has been volunteering with MIRA USA for a decade. “We have been receiving great support from the callers. It's very important that the reason why I'm here today as a citizen, is that we need to make sure that our voices are heard. We need to show our beliefs and convey the message that we are in full support of immigration reform and we're reminding the callers to let their voices be heard, to make sure that they stand and make the congressman do what they do best: their job. … Today people have been very open (to our calls). I think that the thing is that we're not calling with a sales pitch, we're not calling to do that. I think it's the way we convey ourselves, our message. People have been listening and they understand this is not a call for money or donations.”
Organizer's hope that the success of the phone drive will lead to more support, be it in volunteers or calls to elected officials, and a general understanding of the positives the passing of immigration reform can provide for the country.
“Everybody needs to think about this,” said Guillermo Gomez, Central Florida Regional Director of MIRA USA. “It's going to benefit the United States. There's going to be more jobs, there is going to be more opportunities, there is going to be more tax payers. Everybody is going to be in a better situation if we can get rid of these differences.”