Feb. 14, 2013 STATEMENT–LIRS Applauds Improvements to the Family-Based Immigration System; Welcomes the Re-Introduction of the Reuniting Families Act

Press Contact: Jon Pattee, LIRS Assistant Director for Media Relations
202-591-5778, jpattee@lirs.org

BALTIMORE, Thursday, February 14, 2013 —Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the national organization established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, welcomes Representative Mike Honda’s (D-CA) re-introduction of the Reuniting Families Act, H.R. 717. The bill contains a number of key reforms to our dysfunctional legal immigration system. LIRS emphatically endorses provisions in this legislation that enable family members to reunite with their loved ones more quickly and reduce hardships faced by families at risk of being separated.

“LIRS and Lutherans all over America strongly believe that our nation’s immigration system must stop tearing families apart and must instead protect family unity for all migrants and refugees. The love, commitment, and support of family is a great gift that creates purpose for individuals, is central to our faith, and grounds the very structure of our society. Every immigrant entrepreneur I have the privilege to meet is eager to tell me the story of how their family made it possible for them to succeed and give back to this country that welcomed them. Families being whole and healthy are also of vital importance to Lutheran congregations and local communities. The value of family strengthens our resolve to stand for meaningful and just reform of this nation’s family-based immigration system,” said Linda Hartke, LIRS President and CEO.

Although family unity is one of the primary goals of our immigration laws, the current system forces families to wait much too long to be together. Adult siblings of U.S. citizens can wait decades to reunite. Spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents, or “green card holders,” can wait years to be together. To separate families for this long is contrary to our American values and the moral imperative that families belong together.

The Reuniting Families Act would reduce the time that some family members must wait before being able to be with their loved ones. The bill would also provide for faster reunification for the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents. Finally, it would give the government authority to ameliorate hardship faced by families who might otherwise be forced apart by the current restrictions in immigration laws.

Passage of this legislation would allow immigrants and their families to utilize legal immigration channels more efficiently, alleviate pressure on U.S. borders and continue to foster the development of vibrant American communities. We applaud Rep. Honda for his leadership and urge all Members of Congress and the President to take note of the improvements in this important legislation.

LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States. For more information, please visit www.lirs.org.

If you have any questions about this statement, please feel free to contact Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy at (202) 626-7943 or via email at bnystrom@lirs.org.