May 13, 2016 STATEMENT — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service’s statement on ICE’s plan to arrest and deport families and children seeking safety

Press Contact: Miji Bell; 410-230-2841

WASHINGTON, DC — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is gravely concerned about recent reports that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is planning to again target for deportation unaccompanied children and families who came to the U.S. seeking protection. Reports indicate that this enforcement surge will be implemented over thirty days in May and June. In short, the most vulnerable among us are now the top targets for arrest and subsequent deportation.

LIRS remains concerned that families and children targeted for deportation have valid claims to humanitarian protection here in the United States, but are unable to successfully navigate a system that is unfairly stacked against them. Many families and children lack adequate legal representation or adequate notice of a court date.

Further, the Central American countries from which these families and children escaped remain extremely dangerous.

LIRS urges Department of Homeland Security officials to exercise careful and compassionate prosecutorial discretion when determining whether to deport families or young people seeking refuge.

As we have stated previously, vulnerable individuals should not be further endangered based on their inability to access justice or in hopes of deterring others from escaping life-threatening circumstances in search of safety and hope.