When I lived in Illinois my congressman was Henry J. Hyde, and meeting with him required nothing more than a phone call requesting a date. Upon arrival, it wasn't unusual for him to offer visitors a soft drink and a light snack.
Not exactly what you'd expect from a man who spent his entire House career as a member of the powerful Judiciary Committee, including six years as its chairman, and led the efforts to impeach President Clinton.
But he made you feel at home.
It apparently doesn't work that way with my current congressman, Wisconsin's Rep. Mark Pocan (D-2nd). Like many Americans concerned about the federally created immigration crisis that too many in Congress argue can be ended only by issuing a blanket amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens, I wanted to use the August recess to air my concerns to Mr. Pocan.
But here is what I would have had to provide before even being considered for inclusion in his meeting schedule:
SCHEDULING REQUEST FORM: NAME OF ORGANIZATION
TO: Representative Pocan
CC: Luanne Kostelic, District Scheduler
Contact from the Organization
NAME OF ORGANIZATION:
MEETING LOCATION: 10 EAST DOTY STREET, SUITE 405, MADISON
PURPOSE OF MEETING / TOPIC: Example: To discuss issues on X
PARTICIPANTS: All participant names/addresses that will be in attendance—please include where they are from in the state/district. Example: Jane Smith, Executive Director of ABC Group, Madison WI. If there are numerous participants please send in bullet form.
BIOGRAPHY: Please include bios for any executives or participants the group wants to highlight.
LEGISLATIVE ASKS: Please state any legislative asks this will include signing onto a bill or letter, please include any and all background on the asks. Indicate your support or opposition. Example:
• HR 123 – The Education X Act - this legislation is being introduced by X and will amend the X. This legislation has not been scored. The ABC Group supports this because X—state your reasoning.
BACKGROUND: Please state the background on the organization and any additional information.
WI IMPACT: Any state and/or district impact on the issue. Example: There are 16 schools that would be directly affected by this legislation or there are 1600 jobs that will be created if this legislation were to pass, 100 of those jobs would be in your district.
NOTE: Please include if the organization or any participants have met with the Congressman or staff previously. Please include any additional information
MEETING CONTACT: Name, numbers, email of the person to contact on the day of in case of conflict or emergency. Example: Jane Smith, 555-555-5555
MEETING WITH STAFF: If there is a schedule conflict, would your organization like to meet with the appropriate staffer: Yes or No
Rep. Hyde never made me jump through hoops to sit down with him, and I wasn't about to do it to gain an audience with Rep. Pocan. I strongly suspect that requiring such information in order to be considered for a meeting is nothing more than a tool to screen out constituents who want to discuss unpopular issues.
Meeting with Rep. Pocan would have been limited to 20 minutes, more than enough time for me to explain that giving work permits to millions of illegal aliens and doubling annual immigration to 2 million people would be grossly unfair to the 20 million Americans, many of them barely above the poverty level, who can't find full-time work.
I don't think I should have had to write what amounts to a short story to get his attention about a public policy issue that affects not only his constituents but all Americans. So I didn't.