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Notre Dame College Democrats, Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy travel to Washington D.C.

| Wednesday, March 23, 2022

This month, members of the Notre Dame College Democrats and the Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy attended Spring Lobby Weekend in Washington D.C.

Notre Dame students in D.C. speak over zoom with the staff of Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN).Courtesy of Matheo Vidal
Notre Dame students in D.C. speak over zoom with the staff of Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN).

The event, organized by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCONL), gathered approximately 400 young adults from across the country to lobby for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States. The FCONL is a “national, nonpartisan Quaker organization that lobbies Congress and the administration to advance peace, justice, and environmental stewardship.” This year’s event was held partly virtually and partly in-person in Washington D.C. 

Twenty-five Notre Dame students attended the event, along with three students participating in the Notre Dame Washington Program this semester. 

Spring Lobby Weekend took place from March 12-15. Students began the weekend learning how to lobby and listening to speakers, then met with staff of Indiana representatives in order to lobby them. 

The Notre Dame students met with the staffs of Rep. Jackie Walorski, who represents the district that South Bend is located in, as well as the staffs of Indiana senators Mike Braun and Todd Young. 

Senior Patrick Kelly, political director of Notre Dame College Democrats, said three students started off the lobbying session by sharing personal stories on why they were passionate about creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. They then allowed the staffer to respond, presented their legislative ask and engaged in a Q&A with the staffer. 

Senior Josie Flanagan, co-president of Notre Dame College Democrats, said the purpose of the advocacy was to ask the representatives to publicly support a better pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, rather than pushing them to pass a specific piece of legislation in this session of Congress. 

Kelly said the representatives they were lobbying were conservative, while their legislative ask was more liberal. 

“I would say [the representatives’ staffs] were not receptive at all, unfortunately,” said Kelly. “But I think it was a good learning experience.” 

Flanagan said while the staffers did not necessarily agree with their ideas, they responded respectfully to their advocacy.  

Senior Matheo Vidal, co-president of Notre Dame College Democrats, said the club’s current motto is ‘Campaigns, Community, Change,’ and the trip was particularly impactful for the community and change. 

“I think a lot of the students on the trip really got to know each other better, got to know the club better and grew the community of CDems,” Vidal said. 

Students were able to advocate for change and be the force for good in the world that Notre Dame strives to be, Vidal said.  

Flanagan said the trip was informative for students interested in advocacy work.  

Vidal said he and Kelly are working on compiling a document for future leaders of Notre Dame College Democrats detailing the Student Activities Office request, funding needed and what to plan for in hopes that the trip continues to happen in future years. 

“It is my very sincere hope that this is a recurring endeavor for CDems for sure,” Vidal said as he believes it was worthwhile for everyone to get real hands-on lobbying experience. 

“I think the biggest value was in teaching the students that their voices could have an impact,” Vidal said.

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