April 2, 2014
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
As people of faith, we pray and call for immigration policies that keep families together, protect individuals forced from their homelands or fleeing persecution, and value the great gift immigrants are to our churches, communities and nation.
On behalf of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and the undersigned leaders from the Lutheran Immigration Leadership Summit and the communities we represent, thank you for today’s meeting with staff from your Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and for your willingness to hear our concerns.
We join the cry of the prophet Amos: “…let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
We lift our voices in speaking to members of the House and Senate, and to your Administration. Compassionate immigration reform must become the law of the land. Every day without action does harm to families, to communities, and to our nation.
We were encouraged by your announcement that you will review immigration enforcement practices. We believe that such a review is long overdue. While we await legislative action on just, compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform, we are counting on your Administration to exercise its authority to bring about an end to the excessive detention and deportation of immigrants by providing for:
- Broader and increased use of prosecutorial discretion at all points of law enforcement decision-making to reduce harmful enforcement practices and family separation.
- An end to the arbitrary use of detention and to the detention of vulnerable migrants such as asylum seekers and survivors of torture, and true access to justice.
- Increased availability of community-based alternatives to detention that do not unnecessarily deprive individuals of their freedom and for migrants who are neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk.
Today, we and fellow Lutheran leaders are meeting with Congressional leaders to call for swift immigration reform that reflects our American values and the calling of our faith to love and serve our neighbors. We yearn for a nation that honors the contributions that new and aspiring Americans make to our society and economy, and we long for immigration policies that strengthen families within our borders.
You, as President, can ease the pain caused by unnecessarily high rates of detention and deportation. While we appreciate your leadership on comprehensive immigration reform, we urge you to alleviate the hardships and separation experienced by families caught up in our unjust immigration system. We pray that you follow this way of justice, and by doing so, show the positive impact that stabilizing migrant communities can have of all of us.
Yours in faith,
Rev. Dr. Stephen Bouman, Executive Director of the Congregational and Synodical Mission unit, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Gloria Edwards, Board of Directors, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
Ross Edwards, Volunteer, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
Rev. Maristela Freiberg, Director for Evangelical Mission, New Jersey Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Linda Hartke, President and CEO, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Mary Lyndon Haviland, President, Lyndon Haviland & CO LLC
Nancy Langer, Interim Director for Mission Advancement, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Rev. Dr. Yohannes Mengsteab, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Board of Directors, Director of Ministry Programs, The Lutheran Foundation
Tara Mulder, Director for Marketing and Communications, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Chak Ng, Assistant Director for Quality Assurance and Capacity Development, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Joanne Otte (ELCA), Director of Programs, Wheat Ridge Ministries
Laura Schmidt, Transitional Care Coordinator, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Evelyn Soto, Director of Synod Partners for Mission/Unit Operations, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Linda Stoterau, Board of National Missions, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
Regional – Southeast
Rev. H. Julian Gordy, Bishop of the Southeastern Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Michael Rinehart, Bishop of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Robert G. Schaefer, Bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Gregory Walton, President of the Florida-Georgia District, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
Rev. Dr. Herman Yoos, Bishop of the South Carolina Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Regional – Northeast
Rev. Claire Burkat, Bishop of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Shelly Callahan, Executive Director, Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees
Rev. Richard Graham, Bishop of the Metropolitan Washington D.C. Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Marie Jerge, Bishop of the Upstate New York Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Dr. Robert Rimbo, Bishop of the Metropolitan New York Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Regional – West/Southwest
Rev. Floyd Blair, President and CEO, Lutheran Services of Georgia
Betty Boyd, former Colorado State Senator
Susan Brook, Director of Children’s Services, Lutheran Community Services Northwest
Patricia Gunn, Volunteer Visitation Program Coordinator, AIDs NW
Rev. Wayne Miller, Bishop of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Dr. Larry Stoterau, President of the Pacific Southwest District, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
Rev. Stephen Talmage, Bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Dana Anderson, Program Manager, Bethany Christian Services
Rev. Dr. Amsalu Geleta, Associate Pastor, Christ Lutheran Church, Baltimore, MD
Richard Gitlen, Executive Director, Lutheran Children and Family Services, PA
Melissa Graves, Board of Directors, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, CEO, Lutheran Social Services National Capitol Area, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Holly Hoffman, Diaconal Minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Medical Director, Christ Lutheran Health Ministries and Living Water Dental Health Ministry, Carlisle, PA
Rev. Ilze Larsen, Pastor, Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Grand Rapids, MI
Rev. Antonio Lopez, Canoga Park Lutheran, Canoga Park, CA
Rev. Bruce Osterhout, Pastor, Saint Luke’s/Christ Partnership Parish, Reading, PA
Rev. Dr. Carmelo Santos, Pastor, Saint Mark’s/San Marcos Lutheran Church, Springfield, VA
Mark Stutrud, CEO, Lutheran Social Services Michigan, Chair, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Board of Directors
Rev. Dr. Kristine Suna-Koro, Pastor, Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Board Member, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Board of Directors, Professor, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
Rev. Linda Theophilus, Pastor, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, PA
Rev. David Vásquez, Campus Pastor, Luther College, Decorah, IA
Rev. Michael Wilker, Senior Pastor, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Washington, D.C.