June 28, 2012 LETTER — LIRS Welcomes Introduction of Legislation Permanently Reauthorizing the Religious Worker Program

Press Contact: Jon Pattee, LIRS Assistant Director for Media Relations
202-591-5788, jpattee@lirs.org

June 28, 2012

The Honorable Patrick Leahy                         The Honorable Charles Grassley
United States Senate                                      United States Senate
433 Russell Senate Office Building                135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510                                  Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Leahy and Grassley:

On behalf of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the national agency established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, thank you for introducing S. 3245, legislation to permanently reauthorize the special immigrant non-minister religious worker program.

In a nation becoming increasingly diverse, the religious worker visa program helps Lutheran churches and organizations fill unique and specific staffing needs in areas such as community outreach and social service provision. Combining Lutheran beliefs and training with cultural knowledge and language skills, foreign religious workers are necessary to ensure our churches continue to welcome and provide meaningful worship experiences for all members of our communities.

Originally introduced in 1990 with a sunset provision, Congress has extended six times the non-minister religious worker visa program with bipartisan support. Your legislation would free Lutheran churches and organizations from the uncertainty of having to rely on Congress to reauthorize the program periodically, allowing us to continue the work without interruption.

LIRS applauds your leadership on championing the religious worker program and we look forward to working with you to advance this legislation. Please feel free to contact Eric B. Sigmon, LIRS Director for Advocacy, at (202) 626-7943 or esigmon@lirs.org if you have any additional questions.

Yours in faith,

 

Linda Hartke
President and CEO
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service