How Can I Contribute to Change? – Alexis Grady

OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ Victory Institute. Learn more about the internship at victoryinstitute.org/vci.  

This weekend the President tweeted that progressive Congresswomen who had criticized the current United States immigration policy should instead “go back to their own countries” and attempt to fix the governments there instead of interfering with ours. Besides the overtly racist tone of his tweets, President Trump also missed the fact that three of the four progressive Congresswomen he was referencing were born in the United States, the other having been a citizen for nineteen years. His tweet punctuated a week filled with multiple committee hearings on the situation at the border and the announcement of ICE raids in major cities. As someone whose partner is an immigrant, and someone who wants to work on immigration policy, these events have been a sobering reminder of the importance of the work that I want to do.

Understandably, immigration has been the most talked about issue this week on the Hill. Even in the face of this difficult issue, as interns, we are expected to remain professional. I have answered calls where people blame me for the death of migrant children. At times when this became overwhelming, especially near the end of the week, I reflected on Representative Rashida Tliab’s call not to avert our eyes away from what is difficult. I know that my active participation in finding solutions and challenging my peers to speak up is a moral responsibility and something that will prepare me emotionally to work on this issue full-time.

The issue of immigration has often come up in my personal reading. Even before the events of this week, I committed to reading every day on the metro. I selected the book Call Me American by Abdi Nor Iftin, a Somali immigrant who overcame great odds to escape dangerous conditions and come to America. Reading his story on the way to an internship on Capitol Hill emphasized the privilege we have as Victory Congressional Interns. It reminded me to connect policy to people and to take every opportunity to learn tools to bring back to my community.

Finally, the urgency of our immigration crisis has challenged me to think about how I can contribute to a solution. It is frustrating to feel so far away from becoming an attorney when there are people who need help now. But, our cohort visited Georgetown Law School last week and it reminded me that there are others in my shoes. As a DC based student, I have often wondered how, if at all, law schools like Georgetown incorporate the political processes happening down the street. I was surprised to learn that even those who aren’t studying public policy have obligations to invest in how law is impacting people’s lives. The visit motivated me to expand my view of how I can contribute my energy and labor to the issue and make a difference.