How to lobby for immigration reform?

In my column This week's Consulta Migratoria® answers a reader's question about how to advocate for immigration reform before the U.S. Congress.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the immigration history of each person. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

This is the column:

I am a U.S. citizen born in Chicago. My grandparents are of Mexican descent and thanks to their sacrifice I have a better future in the United States. I believe the country would be better off if there was immigration reform, how should I advocate for it with my representatives in the U.S. Congress? -Teresa M.

Teresa, one of the most effective ways of lobbying for immigration reform is to write, call or visit your federal representatives. It is important to flood them with letters and calls from all people living in the U.S., including permanent residents and U.S. citizens, asking them to support a bill that would allow for comprehensive immigration reform.

When writing a letter or making a phone call, it is important to be polite, identify the legislation for which you are communicating with your representative and explain why you believe it is necessary.

If you decide to visit your representative in person, make an appointment. Be punctual, courteous and patient. Be as brief and concise as possible in presenting your arguments for immigration reform. Above all, be prepared to provide information to support your point of view.

For information on immigration issues, I recommend that you read Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports. CRS reports are written in English for members of Congress and generally contain objective, non-partisan information.

Unfortunately, CRS reports are not available to the public unless a member of Congress distributes them publicly. You can find some of the CRS reports on immigration that have been distributed to the public at the following website:

Members of Congress are elected to represent you, so they should hear what you think about any legislation and how lawmakers are doing their jobs. Contacting your representatives and leaders in the House and Senate before an important vote can be a good strategy for influencing our federal legislators.

To contact members of the Congress, you can find the name, phone number and e-mail address on the following web page:

The more people who communicate with their representatives, the better. That is why every family member, employer and friend living in the U.S. should be encouraged to join our efforts and call their representatives in Congress to ask them to support immigration reform.

In particular, U.S. citizens should contact their representatives to let them know their views. In addition, they should go out and vote in every election.

Finally, lawful permanent residents of the U.S. must become citizens in order to exercise their vote. Unfortunately, there are some politicians who will not listen to you unless you can vote or contribute to their political campaign.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog

Send your questions to Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States). He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Los Angeles Westlake South Neighborhood Council. To contact Mr. Castillo's office, please call (213) 537-VISA (8472).