Over the past week, the anti-immigrant group, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), has been urging its followers to flood Congress with phone calls demanding lawmakers vote “no” on the DREAM Act. ALIPAC’s president, William Gheen, ordered “Call your own representatives then call them all or as many as you can! When the offices close, fill those voice mail systems!”
However, due to the fact that Gheen is telling people to call as many offices as possible — regardless of whether they are a constituent of the respective representative or not — some of those calls are being met with skepticism. One commenter complained, “called, aide asked where I’m from, I didn’t have zip or town. Told aide about illegal aliens calling in favor of Dream, and legal U.S. citizens should have more say, evn [sic] if out-of-state.” Another similarly wrote, “All of the email forms, ask for zipcodes. They may be going through anyway but I get notices saying they cannot respond to those outside the district. I am warning them, though, about the deluge of lobbying from non-citizens.” Finally, a fellow commentator advised, “Here are a few with their zip codes: Don’t forget to block your calls *67, I hope it is free. I have been told by two different people that it is free to block your number.” A commentator affirmed, “Yes, that is what I do when I have a local office address, I just use that town and zip.”
Today, ALIPAC officially announced that it was sharing a list of zip codes for their supporters to provide when calling into offices of lawmakers who don’t represent them:
NEW TIP: We have added towns and zips of district offices beneath the DC contact info. If a staffer challenges you for town and zip to disuade [sic] your call, you may give them the ones we provide or you can say “If you are listening to illegal aliens today, you can listen to me because I am an American.”
There’s nothing wrong with grassroots advocacy that’s focused on putting pressure on key lawmakers. However, actually calling Congressional offices and pretending to be a constituent isn’t just disingenuous, it disrupts the democratic process. In other words, lawmakers may be duped into thinking an overwhelming majority of their constituents stand strongly against a policy when the people who are calling their office make up a small, vocal minority that doesn’t even live in their district.
In reality, many of the constituents lawmakers represent probably do support the DREAM Act. Polls show that 70 percent of all Americans do.
Republished with permission from The Wonk Room