As Congress begins its August recess, members return home to speak to their constituents about immigration reform. When it comes to immigration the facts are important, but in order to have a meaningful dialogue the facts must be married with a genuine desire to engage with other people’s views and concerns, and meet them where they are on the issue.

Some ideas for having a civil dialogue on immigration include:

  1. First, try to figure out why those who are upset about immigration feel the way they do. Knowing why helps you figure out if you are really answering the question.
  2. Next, identify the specific issues of greatest importance in your area, and arm yourself with information.
  3. If they agree that the system is broken, ask them what they think should be done to fix it.
  4. Accept that some people will think you are naïve, and may be mean.  Be willing to listen anyway.
  5. Once you’ve done all of that, you can articulate your vision of reform.

Are there any extra steps you would take? 

In your view, is it possible to have a civil dialogue on immigration?

What do you hear about immigration in your local community?

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  • Marti Jones

    I just returned from a four day long family reunion. I have a large family with a wide diversity of political opinion. During the trip I had three different conversations on immigration related politics. One with a brother-in-law who is a member of Utah’s state legislature. Another with a brother who really likes Glen Beck, and a third with my youngest sister, who is convinced Barack Obama is a raging liberal. What intrigued me about these conversations is that while my brother’s concerns about the Senate bill echoed much of the Republican line–he doesn’t think the House should follow the Senate because the Senate bill is too unwieldy and fundamentally unenforceable, and if the government can’t or won’t enforce it, they shouldn’t pass it–further conversation made it clear that both my brother and my sister would support a much higher level of border deregulation than anything Congress is likely to propose, let alone pass. Conservative Libertarians, they both (and they are 39 and 30, respectively) would support completely opening the borders to willing workers. Both of them believe immigration reform is necessary and important, but neither of them are convinced that Congress is able to enact reform that would simplify the immigration process, rather than make it even more unwieldy and unenforceable.