Much has been said about President Trump’s decision to end the ‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals’, program. The program was put into place by the Obama administration and its purpose was to shield the children of undocumented immigrants who were very young when they were brought to the country illegally. But even though this protection only applies to a narrow group of individuals who were technically illegal residents, many have perceived the program as not just immigration reform, but full on amnesty.
In any case, if Congress does not pass its own version of DACA within the next six months, all beneficiaries of the program- about 800,000 “Dreamers” will be forced to leave the country, despite having been socially and culturally naturalized over the past few decades.
This dire situation illustrates the need for orgs advocating on behalf of minority groups, (like Dreamers) to have an engagement strategy ready to go in order to mobilize support. In fact, Trump’s decision didn’t really come as a shock; he made it one of his campaign promises to gut the program. Progressive orgs fighting for amnesty should have built a series of campaigns that could be deployed quickly in response to President Trump’s decision.
Now, more than ever, orgs like the National Immigration Law Center, Educators for Fair Consideration, and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference need to leverage the techniques of fundraising and peer to peer organization in order to put pressure on lawmakers. Converting those who already empathize with Dreamers isn’t really the issue, the challenge is getting ordinary Americans voters to jump on board for the cause. For this task, the tools of personalized communications and targeted appeals are indispensable. The orgs advocating for action need to illustrate how the mass deportation of young, productive, and well-adjusted immigrants would adversely affect the lives of ordinary people. Narrative- based campaigns must tell the Dreamers’ story in a way that speaks to the innate American values of freedom, opportunity, and meritocracy that most citizens of this nation possess.
nterestingly, data analytics can be brought to bear on the monumental task of converting voters on the fence with regard to the issue of amnesty. By obtaining some simple background information on the people who have been targeted by the org to receive campaign materials, the message in the appeal sent to them can be tailored to best connect with each audience segment. Most likely, those advocacy groups running the influence campaign pre-selected their target audience based on factors such as their political leaning, their interests, and even the causes they donated to in the past. The same sort of psychographic dimensions can suggest which specific argument should be made to each type of audience member.
For example, if we know that the target prospect is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the appeal sent to him should emphasize DACA beneficiaries are vital to American businesses, both small and large. Letting this prospective supporter know that almost 75% of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ Dreamers, according to the Center for American Progress might depend on the reader’s political affiliation, given that it is left-leaning think tank!
The point is that the appeal letters’ language, substance, and style must be tweaked depending on who the letter is being sent to. For Advocacy orgs, especially, the arguments they present- whether they appeal to reason or passion- must be crafted to resonate with the target audiences personal beliefs, biases, and concerns.
This is the next generation of advocacy campaigning, and only time will tell if the orgs fighting to save DACA have what it takes to save the Dreamers.
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