May 11, 2011 STATEMENT — LIRS Calls on Congress to Finally Pass the DREAM Act

Press Contact: Fabio Lomelino, Assistant Director for Media Relations
410-230-2721, lirspress@lirs.org

 

BALTIMORE, May 11, 2011—Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) urges Congress to finally pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, legislation introduced today by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA-28) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL-18) leaders. “Today we applaud the re-introduction of the DREAM Act and call on Congress, at long last, to embrace these ambitious and talented youth as permanent members of our communities,” said LIRS President and CEOLinda Hartke. “Lutherans all acrossAmerica stand for welcome and will not tire in extending opportunity to young people who strengthen the fabric of our nation.”

 The DREAM Act is critical legislation that would provide lawful permanent residency to undocumented youth who attend college or serve in the U.S. military for two years. DREAM Act supporters include President Obama, Secretary of Defense Gates, Secretary of Education Duncan, Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano, and a number of former President George W. Bush Administration officials. Last year, despite the bipartisan support from a majority of members of Congress, the DREAM Act fell five votes short of passage in the Senate.

At the age of five, Cesar Vargas’s parents brought him to the United States from Mexico. Since then, he has completed high school and college. He is currently in his final year at the City University of New York School of Law, maintaining a 3.8 grade point average. Unfortunately, like hundreds of thousands of other young people across the United States, Cesar is undocumented. Without a change in U.S. immigration laws or policies, theUnited Statesloses out on the important contributions that Cesar and many other young people offer, such as filling key labor gaps in the U.S. economy, increasing the earning potential of a significant number workers and the strengthening of American communities.

For too many years, the U.S. immigration system has kept thousands of promising young people from achieving their potential. “Many of these children have a difficult life as a result of decisions made on their behalf. Decisions they had no say in,” lamented the Rev. Gregory S. Walton, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod President of the Georgia-Florida District. “We can give them a hopeful future and help them become responsible, productive citizens.” In December 2010, LIRS convened President Walton and more than 40 Lutheran leaders in Washington, DC to discuss faith-based responses on immigration and to meet with members of Congress to press for the passage of the DREAM Act.

LIRS welcomes refugees and migrants on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with and 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.

If you have any questions about this statement, please feel free to contact Eric B. Sigmon, Director for Advocacy at (202) 626-7943 or via email at esigmon@lirs.org.

 

To read the December 20, 2010 LIRS response to the Senate DREAM Act vote, click here:  http://lirs.org/press-inquiries/press-room/122010statement/.

To read the December 17, 2010 LIRS statement on the DREAM Act, click here: http://lirs.org/press-inquiries/press-room/121710statement/.

To read the December 8, 2010 DREAM Act statement from President Obama, click here: http://bit.ly/exFu5E.

To read the December 6, 2010 DREAM Act letter from the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, click here: http://bit.ly/goqndi.

To read the September 21, 2010 New York Times article about Cesar Vargas, click here: http://nyti.ms/dmEb5s.