June 24, 2015 STATEMENT — LIRS Statement regarding proposed DHS reforms to family immigration detention policies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Miji Bell
MBell@lirs.org, (410) 230-2841

(WASHINGTON, DC) — Today, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced several important reforms to the inhumane practice of immigration family detention. This action came just prior to a press conference called by eight members of the House of Representatives to discuss their tour of two Texas family detention facilities earlier this week. In recent weeks, 136 members of the House of Representatives and 33 members of the Senate sent letters to Secretary Johnson asking the Obama Administration to end the practice of detaining mothers and children who have fled to the United States seeking refuge. Over 6,300 individuals have been booked into a family detention facility since July 2014; some families have now been detained for over a year.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is encouraged that the Obama Administration is now recognizing that the practice of family detention is an inefficient use of federal resources. Detaining families is also inherently inhumane. While the measures Secretary Johnson is proposing may make detention stays shorter for some, LIRS remains concerned that detention of mothers and children who have sought protection in the U.S. will still result in unnecessary and enduring spiritual, psychological and emotional suffering.

“It is not against the law to arrive at our borders seeking asylum in the United States,” said Linda Hartke, President and CEO of LIRS. “These are mothers and their babies fleeing terrible and unfathomable violence and evil who deserve to be comforted and welcomed by our great nation.”

LIRS remains firm in our position that there is no humane way to detain families for any length of time in secure facilities. We implore the Administration to explore lower-cost, more humane options such as case management and community-based release programs that provide support, achieve the government’s goals, and cost tax-payers significantly less money.

“There is no justification for jailing mothers and children who come to our country seeking protection,” says Brittney Nystrom, LIRS director for advocacy. “We will not be satisfied with changes or patches. This inhumane and damaging practice needs to end.”

 

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Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is the second largest refugee resettlement agency in the United States. It is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through more than 75 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.