December 2, 2015 STATEMENT — Statement Opposing Governors Rejecting Syrian Refugees

Press Contact: Miji Bell
MBell@lirs.org; 410-230-2841

WASHINGTON, DC — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service remains deeply committed to welcoming and serving refugees who come to our country after passing through the US government’s thorough security screening processes. We see today’s refugees as assets to our communities and nation – just as our own ancestors were.  The US Refugee Program is emblematic of American values – protection of the most vulnerable, freedom, and fairness.  As a public-private partnership, we invest alongside the federal government to: ensure that refugees are supported as they begin their new life in America; launch their journey of being integrated in to the US; and engage receiving communities in welcoming newcomers.

In states where governors have expressed a desire to halt Syrian resettlement, there are many mayors and city/county level government officials that remain supportive of welcoming Syrian refugees in their communities. The generosity of citizens, private charitable organizations, corporate and foundation donors, community groups, congregations, and vast volunteer networks that exist in all of the communities around the country where we work have always contributed to the successful resettlement and integration of refugees. We will continue to ensure that refugees are treated fairly, that their rights are protected, that they experience America as a nation of welcome, and that they receive the services to which they are entitled – no matter the funding source.

Lastly, as refugees are U.S. residents admitted under federal immigration law, they are eligible for federal services administered at the state and local level. It is our understanding that withholding services to individuals lawfully residing in the United States on the basis of their religion or country of origin is discriminatory and our continuing obligation to comply with federal law remains.

We pledge our continued commitment to work with the highest levels of state leadership in all areas where refugees are resettled, and strive to have an open dialogue through the consultation processes already in place.

*Portions excerpted from RCUSA member organizations’ letter to state Governors  11/30/2015