May 27, 2014 PRESS RELEASE — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Announces National Advocacy Campaign to Support Unaccompanied Alien Children

For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Miji Bell
mbell@lirs.org, 410-230-2841

WASHINGTON, DC – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service today announced the launch of a national advocacy campaign, led by youth and young adults, to bring attention to the influx of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) crossing the borders into the United States. This year, more than 60,000 refugee minors are expected to enter the U.S. from Central America and other regions. That number is expected to double in 2015. The “#ActOfLove” campaign urges the White House and lawmakers to designate the situation an emergency and fund it accordingly.

At a press conference in Washington on Tuesday, young people from across the U.S. expressed their concerns for the refugee children and detailed plans for a social media campaign which includes a petition written and signed by young people and addressed to President Obama, Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. It urges lawmakers to provide adequate emergency funds to address this humanitarian crisis, improve protections for children and collaborate with UN agencies, other NGOs and faith communities to offer safety to children. “We must protect victims of trafficking, survivors of torture, and migrant children who are subject to abandonment, abuse or neglect,” the petition states. “These kids have compelling humanitarian needs that require a response.”

“We may be young, but that does not mean we are powerless,” says Chelsea Allison, one of the young adult ambassadors leading the campaign. “Our act of love is to stand up for other young people in desperate need of protection.” Allison has served various humanitarian projects in the U.S. and Africa.

Amy Hoffman, a rising sophomore at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County said she was compelled to become involved with the campaign because, as a Lutheran, she believes that “we must fight for those without a voice and continuously show God’s love through our actions”.

The Rev. Dr. David Vásquez, campus pastor for Luther College in Decorah, IA and outspoken advocate on immigration issues and youth development, will serve as spiritual advisor for the campaign. A first responder during the aftermath of the immigration raid in Postville, Vásquez was an invited participant in a Town Hall Meeting with President Obama in Decorah in 2011.

The full petition and details regarding the #ActofLove campaign can be found at lirs.org/actoflove.

Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is the second largest refugee resettlement agency in the United States. It is nationally recognized for advocating for and with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for serving migrants through 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States. Celebrating 75 years of service and advocacy this year, LIRS has helped more than 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.