July 20, 2012 LETTER — LIRS Applauds Introduction of the Help Separated Families Act

July 20, 2012

The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard
U.S. House of Representatives
2230 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Roybal-Allard:

On behalf of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the national organization established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, I thank you for introducing the Help Separated Families Act, H.R. 6128.

As one of only two organizations that provides specialized foster care and family reunification services to unaccompanied refugee and migrant children, LIRS knows how vital it is to ensure that children separated from their parents are reunited with safe and appropriate caregivers regardless of immigration status. While it is typically in the best interest of children to be placed with family members, some child welfare agencies are reluctant to place children with otherwise qualified relatives simply because they are undocumented.

As you know, the Applied Research Center recently reported that approximately 5,100 children remain in foster care as a result of separation from parents who have been detained or deported and can even be permanently separated from their families. The Help Separated Families Act provides a number of important protections to ensure that immigration status alone is not a barrier to family reunification for children separated by our broken immigration system.

LIRS welcomes your leadership to protect immigrant families and applauds your continued attention to the unintended consequences of immigration enforcement. We look forward to working with you to build support for this legislation. Please feel free to contact Nora Skelly, LIRS Acting Director for Advocacy, at (202) 626-7934 or via email at nskelly@lirs.org with any questions.
Yours in faith,

 

Linda Hartke
President and CEO
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service