Constructive criticism on border fence

NY Times:

Advocates of tougher border security have sent thousands of bricks to Senate and House offices in recent weeks to make a none-too-subtle point with lawmakers about where many of their constituents come down on emerging immigration bills.

Leaders of the campaign, which has delivered an estimated 10,000 bricks since it began in April, said they had hit on the idea as a way to emphasize the benefits of a fence along the border with Mexico.

In an age when professionally planned lobbying campaigns have long since overwhelmed spontaneous grass-roots pressure, organizers of the brick brigade said they also saw an opportunity to deliver a missive not easily discarded.

"E-mails are so common now," said Kirsten Heffron, a Virginian who is helping coordinate the effort. "It is really easy for the office to say duly noted, hit delete and never think about it again."

If the impact was notable, so were the logistical difficulties, particularly given the mail screening and other protective measures put into effect at the Capitol after the anthrax attacks of 2001.

Initially, organizers of the Send-a-Brick Project encouraged people to send bricks on their own, and Ms. Heffron said things had gone relatively smoothly.

But many people, she said, preferred that the organization itself send the bricks and an accompanying letter to selected lawmakers.

The project will do it for an $11.95 fee. So when 2,000 individually boxed bricks showed up at once, Senate officials balked, threatening to force the group to pay postage to have each delivered to its intended recipient. The dispute left the bricks stacked up until an agreement to distribute them was worked out.


"Given the approval ratings of Congress these days, I guess we should all be grateful the bricks are coming through the mail, not the window," said Dan Pfeiffer, a spokesman for Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana.


There is more. The bricks are being sent to a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store in the Washington area.


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