July 23, 2013 STATEMENT — LIRS Statement for Hearing: ‘Addressing the Immigration Status of Illegal Immigrants Brought to the United States as Children’

Press Contact: Jon Pattee
202-591-5778, jpattee@lirs.org

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the national organization established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, is pleased to see the U.S. House of Representatives discuss steps to provide legal status to aspiring Americans who were brought to the United States as children and are undocumented.

People of faith have traditionally called for welcoming the stranger and LIRS and our network of social ministry organizations, churches, and church leaders have long urged welcome, compassion, and support for undocumented men, women, and children. Lutheran leaders have long supported the DREAM Act and advocated directly on Capitol Hill prior to the House passage of this legislation in 2010. After the Senate’s failure to advance the DREAM Act, Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America wrote a letter to Congress and the President on behalf of the church’s 4.2 million baptized members in support of the DREAM Act as well as comprehensive immigration reform. LIRS adamantly encouraged and supported DREAM Act Sabbath events to raise awareness within communities of faith about the critical need to change our immigration laws to welcome instead of deport undocumented immigrant youth. LIRS also actively championed in-state college tuition for undocumented youth in Maryland, the location of our headquarters.

Today’s hearing in the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security is welcome progress towards building a more compassionate and just immigration system that allows newcomers to flourish as Americans. We hope the hearing leads to tangible action that improves how migrants and refugees of all ages are treated under our immigration laws.

“Congress now faces a historical moment where they have a real opportunity to advance the common good,” said Linda Hartke, LIRS President and CEO. “Undocumented youth and their families are ready to give back to this country generously and with courage. LIRS and our network are committed to advancing immigration reform that provides a roadmap to citizenship for our neighbors, family members, and fellow Lutherans who are currently undocumented.”

“Creating a path to legal status and eventual citizenship would give young immigrants a chance at a new life and purposeful future,” said the Rev. Len Busch of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “I work closely with undocumented youth through my ministry and know how strongly they want to give back to their communities and families, and ought to be able to do so.”

Immigration reform that allows undocumented immigrants to fully contribute to our families and communities honors the United States’ history as a nation of immigrants and God’s heart for the sojourner. LIRS supports reform that provides an earned roadmap to lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants and their families.

Additional LIRS Resources

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.