Feb. 13, 2013 NEWS RELEASE — LIRS Acts on Ash Wednesday, Welcomes State of the Union Call for Immigration Reform

Ash Wednesday Service Highlights Need for Congress to Act Now on Key Reforms Including Path to Citizenship

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

WASHINGTON, DC Feb. 13, 2013 — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) welcomes the emphasis on immigration reform in the State of the Union address, and urges lawmakers to use today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to follow through on President Barack Obama’s call to “get it done.”

“Now is the moment for all sides to come together for the good of America and pass humane immigration reform with a path to citizenship, and we saw that vision come closer to reality last night as members of both parties and chambers applauded the president’s call to action,” said Linda Hartke, LIRS President and CEO.

“All across this country, LIRS and Lutherans will be lifting up our voices and  engaging lawmakers from both parties to answer the president’s State of the Union call for fair and compassionate immigration reform that is both business and family friendly,” said Hartke.

LIRS co-sponsored an Ash Wednesday Service on the front lawn of the United Methodist Building at 8:30a.m. across the street from the Hart Senate building, where the Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hold its hearing on immigration just an hour later. A group of diverse clergy from the Franciscans, Interfaith Worker Justice, Church World Service, and the United Church of Christ led the event.

“Faith leaders at the Ash Wednesday Service called for national repentance from the structural sin of our broken immigration system that separates thousands of families every year and leaves children without parents,” said Folabi Olagbaju, LIRS Mobilization Manager. “Clergy leaders called on Congress to pass fair, compassionate immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship.”

“Ash Wednesday is a time for reflection, and we expect lawmakers in today’s Senate hearing to consider the somber plight of migrants and refugees facing family separation, detention, and life in the shadows under our broken immigration system,” said Hartke.

“LIRS and Lutherans look forward to standing with President Obama this year as he signs a fair and just immigration reform bill into law—one that provides a roadmap to citizenship, ensures enforcement measures are humane and just, protects families from separation, promotes integration of vulnerable migrants, and protects U.S. and migrant workers,” said Hartke.

LIRS calls for comprehensive immigration reform that reflects American values by:

•        Providing a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and their families
•        Ensuring humane and just immigration enforcement, specifically by reducing use of detention
•        Safeguarding families from separation and ensuring sufficient visas for families seeking to reunite
•        Promoting integration of those fleeing persecution and other vulnerable migrants
•        Protecting U.S. citizen and migrant workers

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.