June 2, 2015 STATEMENT — LIRS Statement in Support of Senate Letter Demanding End to Family Detention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Miji Bell
mbell@lirs.org, (410) 230-2841

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, 33 Senators formally submitted a letter asking Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, to end the inhumane practice of detaining mothers and children who have fled to the United States seeking protection. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) applauds the powerful stance taken by these Senators and the 136 members of the House of Representatives who made the same demand in a similar letter to Secretary Johnson last week.

The Senators’ letter correctly characterizes mothers and children now held in immigration detention facilities as a population overwhelmingly comprised of survivors of trauma and persecution, locked in facilities that are wholly inappropriate and inhumane.

LIRS whole-heartedly agrees with the Senators’ sentiment that “we do not believe there is any system of mass family detention that will work or is consistent with our moral values and historic commitment to provide safe and humane refuge to those fleeing persecution.” Indeed, detaining mothers and children is harmful to their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

“As we approach the one-year anniversary of the rapid and massive expansion of family detention under President Obama, we are heartened by the bold call from so many Members of Congress to reverse this misguided and damaging policy,” says Brittney Nystrom, LIRS director for advocacy.

In addition to the letters submitted by members of the House and the Senate, in March, over 80 Lutheran and Catholic bishops also sent a letter to the Obama Administration calling for an end to family detention.

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Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is the second largest refugee resettlement agency in the United States. It is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through more than 75 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.