Working for Change: Immigration Policy Advocacy in Washington, DC

By Sora H. Friedman, PhD, Professor and Chair, International Education

(From left to right) Gregg T. Nunziata, General Counsel, Office of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), with International Education low-residency students Ashley Sansotta and Maria Lourdes (Malou) Amparo.

(From left to right) Gregg T. Nunziata, General Counsel, Office of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), with International Education low-residency students Ashley Sansotta and Maria Lourdes (Malou) Amparo.

At the end of March, I had the pleasure of spending one week in Washington, DC, with 18 graduate students from SIT for an intensive field course. The program, structured around the field course “International Policy & Citizen Advocacy,” focused on how individuals can advocate for change at the US federal level, exercising both their rights and responsibilities as citizens in a democracy. The course used a theoretical framework developed by SIT Professor Charles Curry-Smithson (ret.) that traces how advocates for policy define their issue, identify stakeholders, create coalitions, develop tactics, implement strategy, and evaluate their success.

Over the course of the week, students met with staff from nongovernmental organizations that advocate for change—including the National Immigration Forum, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and American Immigration Lawyers Association, among others—as well as governmental offices that implement various aspects of immigration and migration policy, including the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration Customs Enforcement.

For SIT students, the course culminated in the application of their experiential learning through personally organized visits to the offices of their senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill. Overall, the 18 students visited a total of 19 offices—seven in the House of Representatives and 12 in the Senate.

SIT students together with professor Sora Friedman, PhD during their visit to Washington, DC for the field course "International Policy & Citizen Advocacy."

SIT students together with professor Sora Friedman, PhD during their visit to Washington, DC for the field course “International Policy & Citizen Advocacy.”

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