Earlier this week, I wrote about the importance of talking to our elected officials about the policies and laws that are important to you. On Wednesday night, I went to Milton and the town hall meeting hosted by my representative, Dr. Tom Price. It was eye-opening, and not necessarily in a good way. Three topics took up the majority of the event’s time: Obamacare, Tax Reform, and Immigration.
Out of the hundreds of questions that were written and given the Congressman, mine was one out of about ten that were randomly selected for answering. My question was “what are your solutions for the fixing the broken legal immigration system.” Perhaps I was too vague, but the answer included building up our economy and keeping the federal government out of our lives. To be fair, that wasn’t the crowd to address the impossible decisions that families face every day about doing things “the right way” – but to do so means they will be separated for ten years. I wasn’t booed, hissed, or had anyone yell out nasty remarks, so I consider it a small success that an immigration question was met with nonchalance by the majority of the audience.
Other immigration questions and concerns came up later. One person asked why we even “allow Muslims into our country,” continuing by stating that her five years spent in the armed forces was not for defending “the Mexican way of life.” Other concerns were that President Obama had created an open border (despite the border being more secure than ever before) and that 25% of our under-five population was Hispanic. One statement that struck me was “We are losing our country to the illegal and legal immigrants.” I know it’s been said before, but most of us can trace our ancestry to another country. That diversity is what makes the United States great, in my humble opinion.
People are often scared of change. And there was a lot of anger and fear expressed tonight. I could have left the event dismayed, disgruntled, and disgusted. But, I knew this was an opportunity to do good. I sought out a staffer and had a really great conversation with her. I asked about her work with immigration, about the calls the office receives, and how she thought the event went. She appreciated my point of view (even after I mentioned I don’t generally vote Republican), the type of work I do, and my willingness to help out as a resource. I don’t know if anything will come from our conversation, but I left the event a little bit more hopeful than I would have, had I not spoken with her.
Small steps. Changing the world overnight may not always be possible, but small changes and small steps can lead to great things.