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  • Macaca
    12-27 07:31 PM
    'A Hole to Bury You'
    A first-hand account of how China's police treats the citizens it's supposed to serve and protect. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203731004576045152244293970.html)
    By TENG BIAO | Wall Street Journal

    On Dec. 23, the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons From Forced Disappearance came into force. China has declined to accede to this convention. My experience that same day is just one of many examples of how the authorities continue to falsely imprison Chinese citizens.

    That evening, I was in the Xizhimen area of Beijing chatting with my colleagues Piao Xiang, Xu Zhiyong and Zhang Yongpan. Ms. Piao had been disappeared after she and I went to Dandong on Oct. 7 to argue the court case of Leng Guoquan, a man framed by the police for drug trafficking; she had only been released on Dec. 20. Her abductors had been officers from the state security squad of the Public Security Bureau. I asked her to narrate the entire process of her disappearance in detail.

    Later, I suggested to Mr. Zhang, "Let's go and see Fan Yafeng's mom." The day before, we had contacted fellow human rights lawyer Fan Yafeng and found out that he was under strict house arrest. But he had said that his mother was going to be alone at home in the evening and so I thought we should go see her.

    Because I used to go there frequently I remembered clearly where she lived. As Mr. Zhang and I entered the block of flats and started walking up the staircase, I had a feeling that someone was following us. Observing that we went to the third floor, a young security guard asked us whom we were visiting. We said, "We're seeing a friend." Immediately, he called out for someone else to come up.

    We knocked on the door and were greeted by Mr. Fan's mother. But as we entered the flat, the security guard came with us, and a person in plainclothes stormed in just behind him. The man in plainclothes demanded to check our IDs in a very coarse manner. I asked him in a loud voice, "What sort of people are you? How can you enter a private residence without permission?"

    The plainclothes man said, "I am a police officer. We want to check your ID cards." "You're a police officer? I want to see your police ID." "If I am telling you I'm a police officer, then that's what I am. What are you doing here?" "Is that your business? How can you prove you're a police officer if you don't show your police ID card?"

    The situation was escalating. I ducked my head and used my phone to send out a message on Twitter, and Mr. Zhang made a phone call to a friend. It was then about half past eight. The plainclothes guy made a phone call asking for reinforcement. Later I learned that at that moment our own reinforcements were mobilizing.

    Two police officers showed up. One of them showed us his police ID. I asked Mr. Zhang to note down his police ID number and name, Shi Ligang, and pass it on to our Twitter friends. Then they wanted to check our IDs. I said, "According to Article 15 of the National Identity Card Law you have no right to check them in the present situation."

    He said, "We are conducting an investigation in accordance with the People's Police Law." I said, "You can only question people who are suspected of having broken a law. We've just come to a friend's home for a visit, so you have no right to question us."

    We quarreled for some time, and that state security squad officer in plainclothes kept making phone calls asking for more people to come over. The situation was getting worse, so I sent another Twitter message.

    I talked to Mr. Fan's mother and the older state security squad officer told her not to speak to me. I got angry. "You're not even disclosing your identity, do you think you can enter other people's flat as you please and order the flat-owner about�not to mention that that's illegal, it lacks every human feeling!"

    "You should think more clearly. Don't talk so much about the law with me. Do you know where we are? We are on Communist Party territory!"

    The state security squad officer later tried to beat me. I warned him, "As you haven't shown me any documentation, you don't even have the right to seek a conversation with me. Don't push me." Then he said, "Don't you know what place you are in? This is China! Now you've come here, don't think you can leave again!"

    After about 15 minutes, a large contingent of police officers arrived. I was in the washroom at the time. I could hear the police dragging Mr. Zhang forcefully downstairs. The plainclothes man banged madly at the door of the washroom, cracking a hole into the thin wooden panel of the door. I said, "I just want to use the washroom!" He said, "You're not allowed to," and kept banging against the door. He inserted his hand through the hole he had made, and undid the latch. Several police officers dragged me out. The state security squad officer took away my glasses. I am severely near-sighted, and as a result I was quite unable to see clearly. Later, I wasn't even able to read a police officer's ID number.

    I protested loudly against this treatment. A whole group of police officers pushed, shoved, pulled and dragged me down the stairs and into a police van. Mr. Zhang's glasses and mobile phone had also been taken away. As we were dragged away we were also beaten. My hand had been grabbed so violently that it was injured in a few places. A police officer wanted to take away my mobile phone, I resisted with all my force and he eventually desisted.

    When we arrived at the Shuangyushu police station, I said, "You have no right to take us into a police station. You can't be ignorant of the provision of Article 9 of the Police Law!"

    "Want to tell us what it says?"

    "'In the following four sets of circumstances, the police may take citizens to a public security bureau for questioning: (1) if the person has been accused of having committed a crime, (2) if a person has been discovered at the suspected scene of a crime, (3) if a person is suspected of a crime and if their identity is not clear, (4) if a person carries goods with them that may have been stolen." And if you want to check a person's ID card, you can only do that in the following cases: (1) suspicion of illegal behavior, (2) control of a site, (3) sudden incidents severely endangering the social order, or (4) other situations stipulated in the law - and such a law stipulating other situations must have been passed by the National People's Congress or its Standing Committee." I knew this stuff inside out.

    "But you are a person 'whose identity is unclear.'"

    "But according to the law, persons whose identity is unclear can only be checked if they are 'suspected of having committed a crime.' I don't belong in that category." Since there are more and more activists nowadays who are familiar with these two legal provisions and use them to challenge the police, I've been told by police officers that they hate the very bones of the legislators who created them.

    Mr. Zhang and I were taken to two different rooms on the second floor of the police station. A gang of police officers again came to wrestle my mobile phone from me; and there was another scuffle. All the things inside my pocket were taken out. I protested. Seven or eight police officers loudly insulted me. Two or three were swearing especially viciously, using mafia slang words to curse me.

    A police officer shouted at me to sit; I pushed the chair over with my foot. Several officers rushed forward and twisted my arms, punched my head and choked me, and pushed me to the ground. They took me to another room. In the corridor I cried out, "I am a law teacher, I know whether or not you are violating the law." I said this primarily to make them understand that they were dealing with someone who knew the law, to make them refrain from acting rashly and inflicting too much pain�and it was also meant for the ears of Mr. Zhang and the officers who were interrogating him.

    Several police officers pushed me into a corner and one guy came up and fiercely dragged at my tie until he finally managed to pull it off, and threw it to the floor. The police officers pointed at my nose and coarsely swore at me again, and again they cried, "Do you know where you are? If we beat you, what can you do?"

    After a while, a police officer came in and said that we had been detained because we had gone to Fan Yafeng's home. One officer, who I heard addressed as Xu Ping, went from merely loudly interrogating to roaring accusations at me: "O ho, that's how it is! In that case, you belong to the enemy! F- your mother, you went to see Fan Yafeng! That c-! In that case we don't have to talk about legal constraints at all! And you motherf- won't get out of here again! You traitors, you dogs! Counter-revolutionaries! The Communist Party feeds you and pays you and you still don't acknowledge how good it is! You keep insulting the Party!� We will treat you just like an enemy!"

    I was very curious. "How do you treat your enemies?"

    "Like Falun Gong!"

    "And how do you treat Falun Gong?"

    "You'll find out by and by."

    I felt a pang of horror.





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  • texcan
    08-05 02:25 PM
    You can't generalize everything. Do you care to show how this is as bad as labor substitution ?
    How about comparing the actual job duties of all EB2s and EB3s ? Not just what their lawyer says.

    Rules are made with good intentions and it is people that misuse them. But for the desi sweat shops selling labors , even the labor substitution has some merits in some cases (Again Not all).

    Again , I don't really care what happens with this law suite (even if that happens). Just wanted to impress that there are very good number of legitimate cases where the PD porting makes sense and it is required.

    Friend,

    Your questions are valid and great arguments.
    Do i care to answer them all, no. But since we are talking and not fighting, yes i will take some time to provide my input.
    Thankyou for asking my input nicely, i like to belong to a group of educated and people who wear a head on their shoulders.

    Now a days its in fashion to go to school and call oneself educated, which to me this is as absurd as buying a piano and calling one self musician. This is my version of an old saying (trying a little bit).

    Again thanks for your politeness, and showing brotherhood.

    Here is my input.


    you asked - You can't generalize everything. Do you care to show how this is as bad as labor substitution ?


    My 2 cents:
    It was bad because many people were selling labor certificates. I know people who bought them for 10K, and got in green card line and well ahead in line than me and probably you ( we both are on the group today).

    you said: How about Comparing job duties of all EB2s and EB3s
    My 2 cents: why, what will this give you , other than some unrest and one more fight/arguments.

    you said: Rules are made with good intentions and it is people that misuse them. But for the desi sweat shops selling labors , even the labor substitution has some merits in some cases (Again Not all).

    My 2 cents: Yes i agree. This lawsuit idea is also to stop unjust practice, with good intentions and not all.

    you said: Again , I don't really care what happens with this law suite (even if that happens). Just wanted to impress that there are very good number of legitimate cases where the PD porting makes sense and it is required.
    My 2 cents:
    you are right there are cases where porting makes sense, but you cant claim the same on all cases. There are cases where this practice is unjust and breaking the line.
    Why do peole always port in favor of date/time to get faster green card. If porting is so justified ( job duties) how come no one ports to a category that is too late than one they are in.


    Most importantly, you cant push people around, just be nice to people. Please.

    I stand with you in this fight, but remember you stand with me too, and we stand together
    to make a point for all.





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  • satishku_2000
    05-16 10:40 PM
    Is this bill in the senate committee or scheduled for voting sometime?





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  • nojoke
    04-15 04:31 PM
    We are mixing too many different aspects of home buying and creating confusion.

    We buy homes, when we have clearly done our home work and know we can afford what we are buying and our incomes are expected to be reasonably stable. Everyone knows this and no one is arguing against the above logic.

    The points of contention were home life vs. apt life, and home as a home vs. home as an investment. I got into this thread to point out how some people are so obsessed about resale value that to them a home is nothing more than a piece of investment which should appreciate with time and be sold off.
    But these topics appear to be rubbing some people the wrong way as they are hurt to discover that there exist people who do not think the way they do. For that reason, I will lay off this topic.

    That is not why we are debating. We are saying that the house values will fall down further, so save some money by buying low. Ofcourse if you were to sell immediately you would loose a lot. We are not advocating to look for profits when you sell your house.



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  • mbawa2574
    05-28 08:21 AM
    I think Indian Governernment should report this to WTO. America is creating conditions that are discriminatory and not business friendly. India should start cutting wings of American Companies selling goods in India. IT is our product and in case US people have problems with IT professionals from outside, they don't have any right to sell the goods to my people.





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  • new2gc
    03-24 06:19 PM
    My Dear Friend:

    Why do you want to defend crooks? Instead of ackowledging the fact that desi consulting companies are exploiting loopholes, you rather want to know why other companies are not feeling the heat. This is typical of us desis. There is absolutely no introspection.

    For once, accept that we are at fault.

    Its like this - You are in school and your teacher catches you copying off the next person. Now instead of correcting yourself, if you complain to the teacher that another classmate was also copying so you should not be penalized, will your treacher let you go?


    Again, I am not defending anyone, I am saying that we should point all the consultanting...not just desi consulting ones...just don't descriminate...from your theory, it looks it is ok to copy unless you are caught.....I don't want to argue on this and deviate from the OP .



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  • dontcareanymore
    08-05 02:53 PM
    I also resent the idea that all US Masters folks are just "rich kids".

    Never said that. That was just a "story" response to a "story" post. The intent of the post is DO NOT TRY TO FRAME THE ISSUE IN ONE STORY. THERE ARE MANY STORIES.





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  • anurakt
    12-26 07:21 PM
    when was this news ??



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  • natrajs
    08-05 11:14 AM
    Friends,
    I need to find out how many people are interested in pursuing this option, since the whole interfiling/PD porting business (based on a year 2000 memo) can seriously undermine the EB2 category.

    I am currently pursuing some initial draft plans with some legal representation, so that a sweeping case may be filed to end this unfair practice. We need to plug this EB3-to-EB2 loophole, if there is any chance to be had for filers who have originally been EB2.

    More than any other initiative, the removal of just this one unfair provision will greatly aid all original EB2 filers. Else, it can be clearly deduced that the massively backlogged EB3 filers will flock over to EB2 and backlog it by 8 years or more.

    I also want to make this issue an action item for all EB2 folks volunteering for IV activities.

    Thanks.

    I am a EB2 - I filer (This is my third EB2- 1st on 2001, 2nd on 2002 and finally I got settled with my third EB2 (2004) and employer)

    I was lucky that all my employers were understands that I am EB2 plus the job description warranted for EB2, But in many EB3 cases they were exploited by attorneys and employers and it is very unfair

    It�s my opinion, I am sure that you will differ on mine, that is ok,





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  • jonty_11
    09-26 12:29 PM
    all the speculation aside, it would be good know waht IV core thinks abt this...or whats the Outlook of our Lobbying firm...for McCain or Obama



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  • gcisadawg
    12-22 06:23 PM
    So tomorrow if I loose a job and kill someone considering responsible for it is justifiable? Where is the gray area?

    Dude, if you havent heard about it, it is already happening.
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/11/15/a-sad-day-in-silicon-valley/

    One the serious note, you didn't get the crux of my post. Read my previous reply to another poster.





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  • unitednations
    08-14 09:12 PM
    Sorry to post in this thread, but I was wondering if United Nations would be kind enough to answer two questions for me (well, actually one is from my colleague). They are kind of generic so it might help other people too, I hope. I posted this on other threads but I havent gotten any responses for the longest time, so Im posting here. Very sorry to those who are following this thread for the original topic.

    1) From my colleague: As per his family customs, his mothers FIRST name was also changed after marriage. Before marriage she was Vimla Patil, and now she is Anasuya Deshpande. She uses her married first name and last name on her passport, childrens birth certificate, etc. Only her school leaving has her maiden first name, maiden last name.

    He was wondering how to put this info on his I-485/G-325a form. They ask for Mothers Maiden name in one column, and then first name in the next. If he puts down Patil and then Anasuya - it wont be correct as such a person doesnt exist. What is the best way to represent her name. (remember, the birth cert that he will be submitting for himself will have her name as Anasuya Deshpande)

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    2) My question (and this has been asked before, but no one has a rock solid answer). My husband's labor has been approved, approved I-140, his priority date is Oct 2006. I received a labor sub (please dont scream at me.. I dint have anything to do with the matching... it just came my way:o) , but pending I-140, my priority date (if I-140 is approved) will be Feb 2005.

    I wanted to know if we should only choose one of these two applications to proceed further or file two I-485 applications- One with me as primary and him as beneficiary, and the other with him as primary. There are these rare postings where people have said that USCIS can reject both applications/ drop both or deny one initially itself, or ask you to choose one upfront. No one has talked about successful multiple filings, so we dont have unbiased statistics in this space. What is your thought on this issue? Which way would you recommend we proceed? Frankly, I am nervous about my application until the I-140 clears, (and my I-140 was only applied in July 2007) ... yet my husbands pd is almost 20 months after mine. Please enlighten.

    Thanks!

    FYI, both of us have been in the U.S since 2000, but for various strokes of timely bad luck we couldnt file until Dec 2006, So I hope there arent too many hard feelings from people who have also waited as long as we have. I know the feeling.


    Where they ask for her name; then on a separate piece of paper she should explain the different names. Isn't much of a problem.


    Surprisingly; people in the situation where both spouses have 140's pending/approved have opted to file four 485's. My experience is that just about everyone has chosen this option.

    Only risk is that somehow when you file multiple 485 filings; uscis opens up two different alien numbers for you. Once they figure it out then they have to consolidate your files which may take some additional time. However; this is very rare that this happens because there is enough detail that a person puts on the g-325a that uscis systems would be able to detect that a person has multiple filings and they won't create a second alien number (file).

    Biggest advantage:

    One of the spouses 140 gets denied/revoked and can't use portability.

    One of the spouses gets stuck in name check and other spouse can't get approved until primary gets cleared through name check.

    Divorce/separation is an issue (surprisingly this comes up quite often where in some dispute one of the spouses wants to cancel others greencard....happens more often then people think).

    One of the spouses actually pass away (i know of a situation such as this and the other spouse left the country).

    Other then it costing some more money; I don't see much of a risk.



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  • axp817
    03-26 05:52 PM
    Does this mean that H1B is also location specific?

    Per my understanding, it absolutely is. An LCA amendment has to be filed each time there is a location change outside of commutable distance from the original location for which the H-1B was filed.





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  • priti8888
    08-09 06:43 PM
    Hi UN,

    Sorry to post here. I have posted in some other thread but no response.

    I just got my FP notice for Aug 23rd for myself,spouse and 8yrs old son.My wife and son is in India, we cancelled our trip back in May for my 485.We waited till we got our receipts,they went to India for some important work.At this point they cann't make it by Aug 23rd. They both have valid H4 I797 with them.

    Can you please advice, what is the best procedure to follow here.

    1. Can I take my FP and request to postpone of my wife & son ?
    2. Postpone for all three members, and request for a later date ?
    3. Can we go after Sep3rd with the old receipts dated for Aug 23rd 2007?

    Thanks In Advance,
    kSR

    since u r the primary applicant choose option 1



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  • GCScrewed
    07-13 06:34 PM
    Needless to say that the distincation between EB2 and EB3 has become so meaniningless now. How many positions really satisfy the EB2 requirements? From what I heard that most people just try to get around the system to get an EB2. One of the persons who filed EB2 told me that a high school graduate would probably be able to work in that position too.

    Just my observation.

    If you believe this to be the case. ie that a high school graduate should be able to do that job. Then that person should not get a green card for that job.

    People, please think before you post and write letters. It is important to be rational and not put your foot in your mouth.

    This is EB immigration and it is hierarchial. That is quite simply a fact not an opinion. The sooner people understand that, the better, and then everyone can channel their frustrations into broader fixes. Unless that can be done we will see these less than well planned, less than well coordinated, fitful efforts, and an internecine warfare that will make us a laughing stock and undermine the heroic efforts of IV core.[/QUOTE]

    I am just stating the fact. The position was not my position. So I can't speak too much about it. But that was the person who worked there told me. The most important point is that a lot of EB2s do not deserve it at all. This is especially true for smaller companies including those body shops, where a lot of wiggle room exist on how you describe the job requirements. In large companies, they tend to have more strigent requirments on what category to file. A lot of people filed under EB3 before the retrogression starting in late 2004 and 2005 because they did not pay too much attention on this issue (that's their bad - lessons learned).

    Although I don't see the data yet, I bet if you compare the proportion of EB2 applicants (or EB3 applicants), you will see a great difference before and after late 2004. Why? Because that's when the EB3 retrogression started and people began to move onto EB2. Are there so much more EB2 positions after 2004 than before? I doubt.

    I think that's what really make people upset, esp. those got stuck in every stage, from BEC, I140, from name check and 485. All these simply because they changes something without considering those in line already.





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  • satishku_2000
    05-17 02:57 PM
    If some comapnies are not paying on bench as you some people call it , employees can always goto DOL and lodge a complaint. If DOL starts investigation Employers are screwed totally.

    As far as I know companies like INFY, WIT , TCS or patni they start paying the employee from day one , well the amount may be peanuts compared what they make on consulatants .

    People have to come up with proof before they make blanket statements about consultants and consulting profession.

    Consulting is an honest profession which survives purely on proving value added service to the client. For the same reason consultants get paid a premium by clients. Ask hiring managers in companies how much IBM charges for their consulting services per hour.

    Consulting requires ability to learn quickly , ability to analyzie the problem quickly, ability to come up with a working solution quickly and honestly consulting is not a profession for every one.



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  • walking_dude
    09-29 03:47 PM
    Please read my post. I wrote 'contribute' and not vote! I know LPRs cannot vote, but they can certainly contribute to election campaigns. Assuming USCIS uses even 100,000 of available visas and taking the conservative estimate of 50,000 (50%) of them to be adults, there will be at least 200,000 new EB LPRs between now and 2012. These EB immigrants can definitely help shape the future of their future country of citizenship through their contributions.

    And why should I pray? If this country doesn't need me, I'll move over to some other that better respects me. And whom should I pray for? Mcain - author of CIR 2007 -who doesn't care either way?

    I would rather have Durbin send me back in a year rather than have McCain waste 4 more years trying to sell CIR to extreme right-wing-nuts who form the base of Repub party,and Hispanic voters. And get the resulting medley passed through a Dem congress. It will be another repeatition of CIR 2007, which was incidently authored by McCain.

    I would rather have the issue resolved one-way or another fast in a year or two rather than waste 4 more years for something which I might never see in this life.

    And you think majority of those ppl will get Voting rights by 2012....forget it...Most of the ppl here are lucky to get tehir GreeN Card by 2012....

    There is no reasoin for him to pander future voters......He will be most likely agnostic to EB issues, however, as noted..if Durbin is his Immigration advisor..then we are toast...so pray for the best...





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  • gondalguru
    07-08 08:00 PM
    Assuming your husband is here from 2000, they are asking for 7 years, i.e. 12 * 7 = 84 months of paystubs? This is ridiculous. How many people keep paystubs from 7 years ago? Infact in those days paystubs used to have their social security numbers on them, they should be shredded, atleast that's the common advice.

    My pay stub still has SSN.

    Its always good to keep all the paystubs / w2/ tax returns / employment verifications letter / what ever other evidences you have.. especially employment based GC applicants





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  • pitha
    04-08 05:43 PM
    Bill Preskal (I am not sure about the spelling of his name) is going to introduce a semilar bill in the house within the next few weeks. Seems like there is a well oiled machine which is stream rolling this.





    DSJ
    05-16 08:26 AM
    Cool down.....

    I am not saying Infy and others are doing it right. If US asking more explanation that is fine with me, they should have used their brain before approving cases, not after. My point is consulting is not new to H1, even so called big company also do that via "permanent job".

    No this is not correct. If consultancy companies are not there we could find a permanent job. I do not think if H1b is banned for consulting H1b numbers will be reduced so much. H1b rotation will be reduced. But still TCS, Infosys will survive as they have lot of other options like L1 and B1.But US persons will make more money in consulting as there is no restriction for them. So impact is minimal for US companies and also H1B persons. impact will be severe for bodyshoppers. Also current H1b people will not be impacted as most of them will file I 485 as Skil bill be passed. But H1b abuse will be minimised.





    Macaca
    09-24 04:30 PM
    How To Write To Congress (http://consumerist.com/consumer/your-government/how-to-write-to-congress-302775.php) BY CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER | Consumerist, SEP 23 2007

    Writing to Congress is the single best way to express your view on public policy. The average consumer has a surprising ability to influence legislation by crafting a well written missive and avoiding several common mistakes.

    Why Personal Letters Beat Form Letters

    Don't get suckered in by the quick and easy "Write to Congress!" form letters littering the internet. Form letters are not an expression of values; they are a show of organizational strength. If the NRA convinces five million people to send letters opposing gun control, it shows that the NRA can muster five million people to action, not that five million people necessarily care about gun laws. Congressional offices know this and generally disregard form letters.

    So what happens when you send a letter?

    Every office has its own procedures for tabulating constituent correspondence, but most will produce a report at the end of week breaking down how many letters were received by issue area, separating out form letters from letters sent by individual constituents.

    Members treat each type of letter differently, but most look for individual letters as a barometer of their district's concerns. These are the letters that have the most influence, the ones we will show you how to write.

    What Should Your Letter Say?

    We adhere to the three paragraph rule: introduce yourself, introduce your issue, request action. Congressional offices have staffers whose days are spent solely on the mail, so make their lives easier by keeping letter succinct and to the point.

    Introduce Yourself: There is a two-prong test for determining your worth: 1) Are you a constituent? 2) Are you an important constituent? Feel free to puff up your chest. Are you a lifelong member of the district? Are you associated with community groups? Say so! Convince the reader that yours is a voice of experience and wisdom.

    Be specific: Don't just ask a Member to oppose mandatory binding arbitration agreements. Ask them to rush to the floor to support S.1782, The Arbitration Fairness Act of 2007.

    Marshall Facts: Your argument - and you are making an argument - must be supported by facts. Feel free to use facts gleaned from us or other sources, but don't copy and paste paragraphs of pre-written text from form letters. Personal experiences are particularly effective, and often moving. Share them!
    Be Exceedingly Polite, Please: Congress attracts haughty personalities. Staffers don't appreciate being spoken down to or insulted. You are trying to rally them to your cause, so be nice!

    Clearly State Your Request: Plainly tell your representative that you want them to support or oppose a certain bill. If you want a response, explicitly (but politely!) ask for one.

    It should go without saying that your letter should follow all formal style guidelines, such as a return name and address, and should be free of spelling and grammatical errors.

    Send Your Letter To The Right Place

    Only write to your representatives. You have three: one Representative in the House, and two Senators. Do not send more than three letters. Some citizens try to get their voice heard by writing to all 435 members of the House. Congressional courtesy compels the 434 Members who do not represent the zealot to forward his letter to the one lucky Member who does. This angers the Member's staff greatly at the expense of any point you are trying to make.

    The addresses for your Representatives and Senators are available online, but don't waste your time with an email. Letters carry significantly more weight. Send your letter to the Capitol, where the legislative staff is based, though it will take a while to arrive since all incoming Congressional mail is irradiated thanks to those still-unidentified Anthrax mailers.

    For an even greater impact, send your letter care of the staffer covering the issue. These staffers - called Legislative Assistants - are the Member's eyes and ears on their assigned issue areas. Finding the staffer destined to read your letter is easy: call the Capitol switchboard (open 24 hours a day!) at (202) 224-3121, ask for your Member's office, and ask the person who answers for the name of the staffer handling the issue area or bill number. Once you get that name, address your letter like this:

    Member Of Congress
    c/o Staffer
    Office Building/Number
    Washington, DC 20515

    What Should You Expect In Return?

    Depends. There are 535 Congressional offices and each handles constituent correspondence differently. The vast majority respond to letters with either a form letter pre-written by a Legislative Assistant, or with a more personal response written by a Legislative Correspondent. Controversial issues that attract many letters normally receive a form letter response, while smaller issues or specific questions often receive the attention of a personalized response.

    Conclusion

    Members of Congress work for you. Without your votes, they won't stay in office. They go to great lengths to cultivate a positive relationship with you, their boss. Very few people take the time to write to a Member of Congress, so the few that do carry a disproportionate influence.

    Fifteen minutes is well worth the time to influence a $2 trillion enterprise.