August 6, 2012 NEWS RELEASE — Americans Must Reach Out to Immigrants and Refugees in Wake of Sikh Temple Shootings

Press Contact: Jon Pattee

LIRS, LSS Call on Communities to Challenge Words and Deeds that Cultivate Discrimination and Hate

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 6, 2012 – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) today condemned the killing of Sikhs at their temple in Oak Creek, WI and called on Americans to stand with immigrants and refugees against hatred and racism.

Linda Hartke, LIRS President and CEO, said: “Yesterday’s tragic shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin took the lives of six beloved men and women in that community and wounded America’s proud legacy of welcome to newcomers. The shooting is a painful sign that when fear and hatred of our neighbors take root – whether it be for the color of their skin, their faith, their culture or any other reason – the results can be catastrophic.”

Hartke said: “As a national organization that stands for welcoming immigrants and refugees to American communities, we stand in prayerful solidarity with the Sikh community and call on all Americans to reach out to immigrants and refugees in their own communities in simple acts of hospitality and to challenge words and deeds that cultivate discrimination and hate.”

David Larson, President and CEO of LSS of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, said: “The board and staff of LSS stand with the Sikh community in the wake of this tragedy. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those involved. LSS stands ready to assist the Sikh community and those affected by this horrific event. We continue to be in conversation with federal, state, and local authorities as well as partner organizations to coordinate our efforts and encourage all members of our communities to join together in support and solidarity. ”

Lutheran Social Services (LSS) is a non-profit organization that offers a wide range of community-based and residential services to people throughout Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. LSS is an affiliate of LIRS and has resettled refugees and worked with the immigrant community for over 30 years. Other LSS programs include adoption, foster care, counseling, delinquency intervention, and enrichment services for older adults and people with developmental disabilities. Last year, Lutheran Social Services helped over 100,000 people of all ages and faiths. Lutheran Social Services is a United Way agency and a member of the Alliance for Children and Families. Learn more about LSS by visiting

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.