November 19, 2009 STATEMENT — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Applauds Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Call for Immigration Reform

Press Contact: Stacy Martin, Vice President for Mission Advancement
410-230-2847, lirspress@lirs.org

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Applauds Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Call for Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 19, 2009—On November 14, the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) approved an immigration resolution entitled, “Toward Compassionate, Just and Wise Immigration Reform.” The resolution provides guidance to members of the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States on issues related to the legalization of undocumented immigrants, protection of immigrant families and workers, the humane enforcement of immigration laws, protection of refugees, and the root causes of migration.

“Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) applauds the ELCA for guiding Lutheran congregations nationwide down the path toward a more welcoming America,” stated LIRS Acting President Anne P. Wilson. The resolution notes that the ELCA has “become aware of the suffering people experience in connection with the U.S. immigration system” and that “social conditions and historical events in this decade call for renewed attention to immigration.”

The resolution acknowledges that the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States are “vulnerable to injustice and mistreatment.” The church also expresses concern about the increased use of detention which “imposes heavy financial and emotional costs on families.” Finally, the resolution “calls for renewed commitment to family unity and family reunification as a basic human right and integral to long term integration.”

The ELCA resolution declares that “now is the time…to pursue comprehensive immigration reform through the establishment of laws better aligned with America’s historic values…and more responsive to the needs of immigrants, society, and the economy.” Earlier this year LIRS issued a statement urging the 111th Congress and the administration to pass and enact into immigration reform legislation which accomplishes the following:

    • Provides an earned pathway to lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants and their families
    • Ensures the humane enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, specifically within the immigration detention system to reduce the reliance upon the incarceration of vulnerable immigrants and to promote community-based alternatives to detention programs
    • Protects families from separation and ensure an adequate supply of visas for families seeking to reunite in order to reduce the long delays currently experienced by immigrants awaiting family reunification
    • Ensures the protection of U.S. citizen and immigrant workers
    • Provides adequate resources and protections in order to ensure the successful integration of refugees, asylees, unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable migrant populations

Since 1939 LIRS has assisted and advocated on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable migrant populations. LIRS provides services to immigrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners. LIRS is the agency national agency established by Lutheran churches in the United States to carry out the churches’ ministry with uprooted people. LIRS is a cooperative agency of the ELCA, Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, whose members comprise over 7 million congregants nationwide.

The ELCA news release can be found at http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4349.

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