Leadership Toolkit #16

Leadership Toolkit, October 2014 issue
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Inhumane Detention is Growing

PrayerVigil_300The incarceration of mothers and children is unjust, costly and must stop. This practice is contrary to American values of care for the most vulnerable, liberty and justice for all and the values of compassion and welcome taught by our faith.

The forthcoming South Texas Family Residential Center and similar family detention facilities in Artesia, New Mexico, Karnes City, Texas, and Leesport, Pennsylvania, may provide food and beds, but they are not appropriate places for babies, toddlers, teens or parents who have fled horrific violence as they seek refuge in the United States.

Humane alternatives to detention exist, and the facts support that mothers seeking protection for their families in the United States have great incentive to show up for their immigration hearings when they finally have a chance to tell the story of their experience. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service remains firmly opposed to family detention and asks that the Administration end this practice and instead utilize proven and cost-effective alternatives to detention.

Let us continue to educate and inform people about the issues around detention and continue to challenge our country to be better. Be on the lookout for a soon to be released follow-up to the 2007 report Locking Up Family Values. Read and share this challenging reflection from Liz Sweet, Director of Access to Justice at LIRS on her visit to the new family detention center in Karnes City, TX.


Community Sharing

PrayerVigil_300Congregations across the country are making lasting impacts for those on the move. There are churches deep in conversation about creating a House of Welcome. People are challenging themselves in Bible Study, educating in forums, and responding to all those who seek safety with an #ActofLove. Please continue to keep us in the know of all the wonderful things you are doing and let us know how we can help! E-mail outreach@lirs.org with questions, requests, or with great stories!

One such moment is coming up this month! In close proximity to the Karnes Family Detention Facility, members of the Southwest Texas Synod of the ELCA are responding to the call to welcome the stranger.

On Monday, October 20th, advocates for the humane treatment of migrants will join together in public prayer. If you are nearby – or know someone who is – please join in at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 408 S Davison, Karnes City, TX 78118 at 11:00 AM. More information and the event flyer here.


Border Crisis Mythbuster

Mythbuster_border_crisis_300The moment happens to everyone. A family member or friend shares his or her latest scoop on the influx of children and families crossing the border, and you know what was said just isn’t quite right. With the hearts and minds of all those in the United States making an effort to process this particular migration, there continues to be a lot of misinformation shared.

LIRS recently created the Border Crisis Mythbuster to help in this moment. Get the facts straight on who is crossing the border, why they are crossing the border, and what happens to this vulnerable population of people once in the States. As always, we are grateful to the excellent work and research done by Women’s Refugee Commission, American Immigration Council, and National Immigration Forum.


Foster Care Recruitment

GiveTheGiftofFamily_300The recent daily headlines about children fleeing for safety created an unprecedented spike in loving families committing to Give the Gift of Family. A special thanks to the many of you who also considered that call!

As the focus from the news has shifted to other matters, those calls, e-mails and inquiries have slowed down considerably. But the need is as clear as ever: There are unaccompanied children from across the world who need care, protection and a home.

LIRS will forever be committed to these children and need help to recruit others. We are also committed to helping with that recruitment and want to start by sharing some wonderful new stories. These videos capture not only the lasting impact foster parents make on foster children, but also how children have a deeply transformative impact on their parents. It doesn’t take a special degree to change a child’s life. As one foster parent said, “kids just need one person to believe in them and be on their side.”

Please watch and share today.


LIRS Congressional Advocacy Guide

RefugeeAcademy300Two months ago, we shared the August Congressional Recess Guide. Though August is now past, the updated LIRS Congressional Advocacy Guide is as important as ever.

Congress has not passed any legislation to address the needs of these vulnerable migrants, including much-needed funding measures. Before heading home to their districts for the November election, Members of Congress passed a temporary funding measure to fund the government from the start of Fiscal Year 2015 on October 1 through December 11.

The stopgap measure includes no new funding for immigration and refugee agencies within the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Health and Human Services (HHS) or Justice (DOJ) that care for vulnerable refugees, children and families seeking safety in the United States.

Now is the time to urge your Members of Congress to support legislation that maintains our nation’s proud legacy as a safe haven for those fleeing persecution. We must continue to urge Congress to provide critical funding for government agencies that care for children and families seeking refuge, and resist eroding safeguards for children arriving at our borders seeking protection.

As people of faith, we must use our voices to let Members of Congress know their constituents care about vulnerable migrants. With Members in their homes districts, this is a great opportunity to make your voice heard by setting up an in-district visit with your Members of Congress and their staff. Use the LIRS Congressional Advocacy Guide to help you.