Norma – Congress in Recess

Norma in front of the White HouseFirst off I apologize for not posting in so long, things have been crazy. Where do I begin? Congress is back in session after the two week recess. The Hill is a different world when not in session. People walk around in jeans and flip flops, it felt a tad bit more homey. Everyone except us that is; I definitely had to continue to dress professionally at all times, the Senator is very serious about professionalism and appearance and rightly so. I personally think that this is a great thing, especially in D.C. because, again, you never know who you might see. It is always better to dress up than dress down.

So Congress in Recess is slow. There aren’t a dozen hearings per day, the Members and Senators aren’t in their offices, there are no crazed reporters trying to get a story, tourists still roam but not nearly at the same capacity. It is nice. The Senate is always more quiet as is, but the House side feels like a whole new realm. While other UCDC students on the House side were dressed down and leaving work early because of how slow it was I felt as though Senator Feinstein’s was the complete opposite. The work did not stop, there is A LOT going on in California, one of the biggest issues revolving around water, and a lot of prep to do for when Session is back in so I remained busy throughout the recess. That was great because after all I am here to work. While some may get overwhelmed I have found myself excited and re-energized as I have been able to work on some truly amazing projects. For example, I have recently been working on archiving for the office. While it sounds like a daunting task, it was an interesting one. Basically I had to read through old documents and manuscripts and save or throw them out based on a certain criteria. I got to read through the process of many bills that were introduced, and some which passed, it was like getting to experience the real process of how a bill becomes a law. There were old emails and letters between the Senator, staff, other Senators, Members, and the White House. Yes letters from President Obama, but also a lot of other older letters from the Clinton administration. It was an awesome experience.

Recess ended a week ago and the Senator is back, which means a lot of work around the Hill. I have been going back and forth from the Senate to the House on the daily for hearings, it has been interesting and enlightening. Working in the Judiciary Committee I have been doing a lot of work around immigration, my passion and reason for coming to the Hill, so it has been an invaluable experience. Some of the highlights: This last week Representative Grijalva from Arizona who does a lot of work around immigration reform sponsored a series by the Not One More Campaign and many other migrant and undocumented activist groups. There were a series of panels, films, and briefings. Many groups have come from all over the nation to join in on the Hunger Strike for Immigration Reform and deportation relief in front of the White House and I have valued the opportunity to hear their stories first hand. I have been to many of these briefings as has Representative Grijalva. This past week there was a film screening where I had the opportunity to talk to the Representative one on one for a good 15 minutes. It was great to have an educated discussion with someone in his position, as well as someone who has similar views on immigration in the U.S. as myself, and who was surprisingly down to earth and available. By the end of the conversation we were talking on a first name basis and definitely bonded on a multitude of things. However, the best and most reaffirming thing came a few days after that. Once again I was traveling back and forth from the capitol to the Senate building delivering a speech to the floor for Senator Feinstein when I passed by Representative Grijalva who stopped to shake my hand and greet me by name. Not only did he recognize me but he remembered my name and the context of our conversation. Later that same day I was walking back to the Senate when I ran into Senator Feinstein who also greeted me. The amount of access that I have had to these spaces and people is far more than I had expected.

There have been a lot of great programs happening all over the city. The culture of DC is vibrant and I couldn’t be happier with my choice to come to D.C. That is all for now. I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Best,

Norma Orozco

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