Leadership Toolkit #9

Leadership Toolkit, August 2013 issue
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Comprehensive Immigration Reform Mythbuster launch

mythbuster300We’ve all been there: A family member or friend argues against immigration reform because they’ve been misled by damaging myths they heard on TV.

You want to stick up for your immigrant friends and win another supporter for fair reform. But where can you find the facts to gently debunk the myths?

For just these moments, LIRS recently released the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Mythbuster, a unique infographic resource. It provides you with the truth about reform’s social and economic benefits, while debunking widely propagated misinformation. It gathers the most solid data available, and we’re grateful to our friends at the Center for American Progress and the American Immigration Council for helping to ensure its accuracy. The Mythbuster also cites the excellent research of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the National Immigration Law Center, the Migration Policy Institute, the Alliance for Citizenship, and the Immigration Policy Center.

Curious? Visit our Mythbusters page to view and download! You can preview the new Comprehensive Immigration Reform Mythbuster by clicking on the image at the top of the page, and download by clicking the link towards the bottom of the page.


Put pressure on the House this August Recess


“August is a month in which either legislative proposals die, or they survive.” — Sen. Robert Menendez, (D-NJ), co-author of the Senate immigration reform bill (Associated Press, July 18, 2013)

“I pay more attention to what I hear in my district than what I do from various groups.” — Rep. Charles Boustany, (R-LA) (Associated Press, July 18, 2013)

The quotes above confirm what we all know: We’re at a pivotal moment in our efforts to pass a compassionate immigration reform bill that truly embodies our biblical call to welcome the stranger. We need you to act, using the LIRS August Recess Toolkit for Action.

The urgency of this moment is why LIRS is calling on all Lutherans to rise up, take action, and be an effective voice for immigrants and refugees at this crucial time in our nation’s history.

Why is this a critical time to act? The Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill (S.744) in June, but the House of Representatives has yet to show the same kind of bipartisan leadership. While new polls show that a majority of Americans support immigration reform and respectable reports including one from the Congressional Budget Office have shown that immigration reform will boost the economy and reduce our budget deficit, House Republican leaders are promoting a piecemeal approach to reform that promises, at most, to tinker with a few of the many ways our immigration system is broken.

Even worse, harmful immigration legislation has advanced on partisan votes through House committees. One of these bills is the SAFE Act, which would make it a crime to provide assistance or transportation to an undocumented person, would mandate even more detention of immigrants, while expanding a program that encourages racial profiling.

We have come too far in our struggle to be turned back now. The time is now for people of faith to raise our voices in support for compassionate immigration reform.

Once again, you can do that by using our August Recess Toolkit for Action. Please download and share it with friends, members of your congregation, family, neighbors, and colleagues. It provides you with resources for:

  • Meeting with your elected officials
  • Writing and publishing media advisories, op-eds, and letters to the editor
  • Organizing events to drum up support for reform in your community
  • Engaging your congregation with prayers and prayer vigils
  • Mobilizing for many other creative actions

Thank you for personally taking action for fair and humane immigration reform in August. To say this is a make-or-break moment would be an understatement!


LIRS’s 75th Anniversary recognized by LCMS Convention

LCMSConvention300LIRS  was moved and honored when the National Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) Convention unanimously passed a resolution “To Give Thanks and Praise to God for LIRS 75th Anniversary.” We’re constantly thankful for the many ways LCMS leaders and congregations stand for welcoming immigrants and refugees. This resolution is yet another reminder of how important their work is.

Here is the text of the resolution:

WHEREAS, In 1939, Lutherans in the United States, committed to the mercy work of the church, rose up to 41 help Lutheran refugees from Europe displaced by World War II; and

WHEREAS, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), in partnership with Lutheran congregations 44 across the country, has resettled over 400,000 refugees in its 75 years of ministry; and

WHEREAS, Christians are called to welcome the stranger (Deut. 10:18–19; Matt. 25:36), working to protect, 47 embrace, and empower migrants and refugees through ministries of service and justice; and

WHEREAS, LIRS in partnership with Lutheran congregations continues to serve over 10,000 refugees and 50 20,000 detained torture survivors, victims of trafficking, and unaccompanied children every year; and

WHEREAS, The ministry of LIRS is still sorely needed in today’s war-strewn, conflict-ridden world; therefore be it

Resolved, That the Synod declare Sunday, June 22, 2014, as Refugee Sunday in which congregations offer 1 thanks and praise to God for the 75 years of mercy work for migrants and refugees through Lutheran Immigration 2 and Refugee Service; and be it further

Resolved, That the Synod invite congregations to tell the stories of their acts of welcome to refugees and 5 migrants―signs of witness, mercy, and life together; and be it further

Resolved, That the Synod utilize its communications mechanisms to share these stories and inspire action 8 throughout the LIRS 75th anniversary year; and be it finally

Resolved, That the Synod encourage congregations and organizations to engage with and support the LIRS 11 mission of welcoming the stranger through gifts of time, talent, and treasure.


S. 744 Webcast Powerpoint available for download

WebcastStill300The passage of S.744 earlier this summer marked a huge step towards what Lutherans across our country, and the majority of Americans, are calling for: immigration reform that keeps families together and offers a roadmap to earned citizenship.

Soon after S. 744’s passage, Congress took a serious look at how to move forward with immigration reform. And while Republicans in the House of Representatives retreated for a highly publicized caucus meeting on immigration reform, emerging without clear consensus on the best path forward for immigration reform in the House, the Democratic senators from the Gang of Eight crossed Capitol Hill to meet with their counterparts in the House, emerging with a renewed commitment for a roadmap to citizenship.

There’s been extensive media coverage of the outcomes of both meetings and with all that’s been written, debated, and discussed, it’s understandable if you have felt frustrated or confused. And that’s why LIRS recently hosted a live webcast with our Washington, D.C. advocacy team on July 24th.

If you weren’t able to attend, you can still download the Powerpoint presentation and access other materials discussed during the webcast by clicking here. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to be in touch with either Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy or Nora Skelly, Assistant Director for Advocacy.


Thanks for helping make World Refugee Day a success

WRDLTK300We’re proud and grateful to share that World Refugee Day was a great success! We welcomed nearly 30 former refugees, all of them now community leaders, who traveled to Washington, D.C. to call for a strong U.S. refugee resettlement program as part of immigration reform.

The delegates shared their personal stories of courage and determination during meetings with over 30 congressional offices on Capitol Hill on June 20. One delegate, Omar Bah of Rhode Island, was even able to meet personally with his state’s entire congressional delegation. Their engagement in the democratic process in Washington and in their new hometowns testifies to how much our country benefits from welcoming refugees.

“I’m grateful and feel honored to be invited to participate in the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service leadership team that’s visiting the U.S. Capitol to advocate on behalf of the thousands of refugees not only in the country, but the whole world, and for the United States to continue to support us venerable people,” Los Angeles resident and former refugee James Payveh told our staff during the day of visits.

Several of the leaders who visited Capitol Hill were prominently featured in their hometown papers.  The Providence Journal covered the advocacy of Omar Bah; the Grand Forks Herald featured Hussan Al-Kayali; the Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel ran a story on Rev. Yohannes Mengsteab; and multiple Vietnamese-American media sources covered our Walk of Courage Award recipient, Chris Phan.