Understandably, I’m a bit peeved.
We elect our officials so that they can represent and support every single person in the state. Lawmakers aren’t just there for folks who vote for them, or fat cats with deep pockets. Once they sign the oath of office, they serve all of us, politics be damned.
But that’s not how things have played out. House Bill 318 is called the ‘Protect NC Workers Act.’ It does anything but. First, it eliminates certain forms of ID that immigrants use to find work and identify themselves in their communities.
Second, it ends the practice of sanctuary cities — places where undocumented workers do not face immediate deportation if arrested or detained.
Finally, it removes a food stamp provision that allows workers in rural areas with high unemployment to receive benefits longer than three months.
To be frank, I can’t understand the reasoning behind these measures. Surely it benefits us to allow those searching for work to continue to eat. And I can’t imagine why we’d want to take away immigrants’ ability to find employment, rent an apartment, or enroll their children in schools.
It feels punitive, as if McCrory and the lawmakers who drafted this bill, want to punish those with fewer resources than those who live in large cities, have higher education, and access to more resources. Furthermore, it feels clear that laws like this are not in the best interests of all citizens. Why make immigrants feel ostracized from our communities, or unsafe?
Election season for many of these lawmakers isn’t until next year. So what can we do in the meantime, when it becomes clear those in the highest offices aren’t representing us?
- Make some noise. Social media is king. So many people aren’t informed about the issues, or think they don’t matter. Share your viewpoints on Twitter or Facebook. Talk about why these measures bother you or why you find them unfair.
- Write it up. Newspapers might feel like a dying medium, but letters to the editor and op-eds still count for a lot. Write 200-800 words about why you don’t feel represented. Spotlight how this affects you and your community. Ask a friend to read your letter before you send it in. You’d be surprised how many lawmakers and other important figures still read the editorial section.
- Refuse to be ignored. Make an appointment with your state representative to sit down and share your views. They work for you, and meeting with constituents is a huge part of their job. Don’t be intimidated: just speak your truth and hopefully they will listen.
- Join a movement. Women AdvaNCe’s Advance teams work together to affect changes in their communities and on the statewide stage. Connect with your local team, or find some other non-profit to join forces with. Rally, shout, and let it be known you will not back down.
How do you handle it when your representatives don’t act in your best interests? Aside from voting, what do you think is the best way to be heard?