What To Do If Your Congressman's Mailbox Is Full (When You're Calling To Oppose Family Separation Policy)
If you're opposed to the family separation policy, then calling your local congressman to protest is one way to make your opinion known. But sometimes all you get in response is a full mailbox, and no way to leave a message. In this case, knowing what to do if a congressman's mailbox is full will give you plenty of additional options. Don't give up just yet.
Given the controversial nature of the family separation policy, it isn't surprising that so many people are trying to make their opposition known to representatives right now. Basically, the policy results in the separation of parents from children at Mexican border crossings. And it's affecting a large number of families. From April 19 to May 31, roughly 1,995 children were separated from their caretakers at the U.S. border, according to TIME Magazine. Although many citizens have expressed outrage at this policy, leaders are standing by it. "If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It's that simple. ... If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as noted in NPR. Plenty of Americans disagree with this separation of parents from children, and there are still many ways to make those opinions known.
If you want to contact your representatives, then Resistbot is your new friend. Just text the word RESIST to it at 50409 on SMS and it will deliver the message to your officials in less than 2 minutes. If you're at a computer, it's also reachable on Telegram, Messenger, and Twitter. Oh, and it's a free service that requires no downloads. You go, Resistbot.
Sure, phone calls are probably the best way to get anyone's attention. But sending a strongly worded email is still an option, too, if you can find the address. Each member of Congress handles their own office's policy of email management, so you'll have to look for it on the member's own website. To find your representative, enter your ZIP code on the United States House of Representative's official website and go from there. I was able to find my representative's email directly from that form, so hopefully you'll have the same luck.
3. Social Media
Social media activism is a force too big to ignore now, so don't underestimate the power of a hashtag or DM. "Most Americans think you have to be a special interest group with a big campaign involving hundreds of people to be heard by Congress. But this shows that a couple dozen people can make a big impact by weighing in on a member's Twitter or Facebook page," said Brad Fitch, president and CEO of the non-partisan Congressional Management Foundation, in USA Today. The foundation conducted a survey in 2015 and found social media posts could be an effective way to reach those officials (or at least their staffers). Chances are, those tweets and posts are only more effective now.
4. Video Testimonial
Put your vlogger skills to use for political purposes. Take to YouTube or Countable and publish a video directly addressing the issue. You don't need to be a media professional to make your voice heard in a direct and immediate way. Tag your representative's social media with the vid for even more impact. It's like a town hall meeting right on the screen.
Make old tech work in your favor. Use FaxZero to send a free fax to your congressional representative. A surprising number of representatives still accept faxes, so don't rule it out.
6. Write A Letter
When in doubt, don't underestimate a good old physical letter. If you don't feel like finding a stamp, then Snail Mail Congress will print and mail your letter to your representatives for you. It couldn't be easier.
7. Call Back Later
The exact times your representative's staff actually empties that full voicemail box will probably vary from office to office. For more numbers to ring, use 5calls to quickly reach your representative's main line, as well as several additional local office numbers. They even give you a script to read. Keep calling. Eventually your message will be heard.