Editor’s note: The following is a letter that was sent to U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-16), which the writer chose to share with us.
Dear Congressman Manzullo,
On March 22nd, 2010, a day after my 23rd birthday, I participated in three meetings with the staff of my elected representatives. I was in Washington, D.C., for Ecumenical Advocacy Days and there to learn about the undocumented illegal immigrants in this country. Little did I know, I would end up feeling like I had no voice, much like them.
I was treated with class and dignity by my first two appointments (Durbin and Gutierrez), not so much with the third. I am sorry to tell you, but my third meeting was with your staffers. Michele was very nice and seemed open to different opinions. Your other staffer, on the other hand, was not. He frequently checked his phone and texted even as others in my group were talking to him. When we mentioned that immigration reform would create jobs, he rolled his eyes at us. I felt absolutely terrible about myself.
He said you were working on immigration reform, so we asked him how. He said that when we do business with a foreign country such as Japan, you need to get a visa to travel over there or vice versa, and that takes many days. Your assistant said you are working to change that. Well, I believe that is just business as usual. I would like to see you work for the everyday man and woman.
Big business got us into this financial crisis we are suffering through, and is now responsible for the environmental crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. I had to finance part of the trip from my own pocket because I firmly believe in the cause. I felt very disrespected that your staffer could not treat your own constituents with the dignity and respect that they deserve. I felt marginalized like the people I had come to represent. Some of my friends have been here close to 20 years, and they are still not able to gain citizenship because they came here illegally. To me, they are more important than speeding up visas so business can continue as usual. Thank you for your time.
Loves Park, Ill.
From the July 7-13, 2010 issue