December 11, 2008 NEWS RELEASE – LIRS Applauds Passage of Trafficking Bill That Protects Vulnerable Children

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

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Applauds Passage 
of Trafficking Bill That Protects Vulnerable Children

BALTIMORE, December 11, 2008—Last night the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed the William
Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA), H.R. 7311, putting before President
Bush a landmark opportunity to protect thousands of trafficking victims. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS)
applauds the passage of this bill, which includes long-sought reforms to aid and protect vulnerable immigrant children.
Every year thousands of foreign-born children arrive in the United States with no adult to accompany them. Among those
taken into federal custody to undergo immigration processing, many have been trafficked, persecuted in their home
countries, or subjected to domestic violence, abuse, and neglect.

“In a country as great as the United States we must ensure that children are treated humanely and in accord with national
and international standards, especially when so many have experienced shocking violence and abuse,” said LIRS
President Ralston H. Deffenbaugh Jr.

The TVPRA sets new standards for how children will be treated in custody, the kind of mental health and other services
they will receive, and the conditions under which they can be sent home. “This law makes clear the joint responsibility of
all federal agencies to be sure these children are safe,” said LIRS Vice President for Protection Susan Krehbiel. “For the
first time, federal officials will be required to follow child welfare principles, including the ‘best interests of the child’
standard, when making decisions about their care and their return.”

The TVPRA will assist in the identification and protection of trafficking survivors and those who are eligible for asylum
and other forms of immigration relief. The bill will help ensure that more trafficked children receive protection and
critical services.

“LIRS is grateful to sponsors of the trafficking bill, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Rep. Berman (D-CA) and the late Rep. Tom Lantos
(D-CA),” said LIRS Director for Legislative Affairs Gregory Chen. “We extend our deepest appreciation to Sen. Dianne
Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who have worked tirelessly for eight years to pass legislation that protects
vulnerable unaccompanied children. Without their efforts, these critical reforms would never have become a reality.”
For three decades LIRS has resettled unaccompanied refugee children, administered foster care for trafficked youth and
provided services to minors in federal immigration custody. LIRS is a cooperative agency of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran in America.

If you have questions about this statement, please contact Eric B. Sigmon, Interim Director for LIRS Washington Office, 202/626-7943, esigmon@lirs.org.