March 18, 2016 STATEMENT–LIRS Applauds the Re-Introduction of the “Reuniting Families Act” to Improve the Family-Based Immigration System

Washington, DC —Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the national organization established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, welcomes Representative Mike Honda’s (D-CA) re-introduction of the Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 4798). The bill works to reform our dysfunctional legal immigration system by enabling family members to reunite with their loved ones more quickly. LIRS emphatically endorses provisions in this legislation that uphold the value of family unity and reduce hardships faced by families at risk of being separated.

“LIRS and Lutherans all over America strongly believe that our nation’s immigration system must stop tearing families apart and must instead protect family unity for all migrants and refugees. The love, commitment, and support of family is a great gift that creates purpose for individuals, is central to our faith, and grounds the very structure of our society. Families being whole and healthy are also of vital importance to Lutheran congregations and local communities. The value of family unity strengthens our resolve to stand for meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform,” said Linda Hartke, LIRS President and CEO.

Although family unity is one of the primary goals of our immigration laws, the current system forces families to wait much too long to be together. Adult siblings of U.S. citizens can wait decades to reunite. Spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents, or “green card holders,” might be forced to endure years apart. Separating families for this long is contrary to our American values and the moral imperative that families belong together.  The Reuniting Families Act would aim to reduce prolonged family separation for American citizens, as well as for the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents.

Passage of this legislation would allow immigrants and their families to utilize legal immigration channels more efficiently, alleviate pressure on U.S. borders and continue to foster the development of vibrant American communities. We applaud Rep. Honda for his leadership and urge all Members of Congress and the President to take note of the improvements in this important legislation.

If you have any questions about this statement, please feel free to contact Joanne Kelsey, LIRS Assistant Director for Advocacy at (jkelsey@lirs.org).