Students in Favor of Immigration Reform Encourage Peers to 'Call Congress for a Cookie'

Two Sanford School of Public Policy graduate students made it easy for their peers to get involved with immigration reform on Wednesday with a one-hour campaign they dubbed “Call Congress for a Cookie.”

Liz Hendrix MPP’15 phones her U.S. House representative to register her support for immigration reform. Carly Krause, a call-in organizer, watches in the background.

 

Jihye Lee and Carly Krause set up shop in the school’s Fleishman Commons and flagged down passing students, using a large plate of chocolate chip and M&M cookies to draw them in. “It takes less than a minute,” they promised.

Using an online call-in tool, Lee and Krause connected students with their U.S. House representative on the spot. They also provided a one-sentence script for callers to record onto the member’s answering machine. Their focus is H.R. 15, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which passed the Senate but stalled in the House last fall.

The goals of their campaign were to try to keep the topic alive in Congress, to raise awareness among students and to “continue the conversation,” Lee said. Legislators need to hear from residents of their districts about issues they care about, Lee said, whether voters are registering support for those who favor reform or trying to change the minds of members who oppose it.

If new legislation is introduced or HR 15 begins to move in the House, Lee and Krause may repeat their campaign on Duke’s main quad to pull in a wider audience.

“My policy focus is immigration reform,” Lee said. “I’ve been following it for a long time. I’m an immigrant. My dad’s family was able to relocate to America legally because of immigration policies, but I have relatives who are undocumented.”

Lee had planned to become an immigration lawyer, but when she realized existing laws “aren’t helping immigrants” she chose to pursue a master’s degree in public policy instead. “I want to help change the laws,” she said. Sanford School professors have put her in touch with guest speakers and helped her acquire analysis and advocacy tools. When she graduates in May she hopes to land her “dream job” in the field of immigrant advocacy.

Lee and Krause, who is pursuing a dual MPP/MBA degree, lead Bridging Communities. The Sanford student group strives to develop more socially conscious policymakers at all levels through curriculum, networking, mentorship and training.