May 27, 2015 STATEMENT — LIRS Statement in Support of Congressional Letter Demanding End to Family Detention

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

WASHINGTON, DC – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) applauds the efforts of 136 members of the House of Representatives who issued a joint letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson today demanding that the Administration end the inhumane practice of detaining mothers and children seeking refuge in the United States.

The letter, spearheaded by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), correctly characterizes the practice as “detrimental to mothers and children and is not reflective of our nation’s values.” It also calls particular attention to reports of inadequate medical care for detainees, including mothers and children traumatized in their countries of origin and en route to the United States. Many of these details have been echoed by immigration advocates, including LIRS, for quite some time. A 2014 joint report issued LIRS and the Women’s Refugee Commission, “Locking up Family Values, Again”, detailed the harm that comes from locking up mothers and children seeking who are survivors of persecution and extreme violence.

“We are extremely pleased to see the groundswell of support to end what we have long known to be a very troubling practice,” says Brittney Nystrom, LIRS director for advocacy. “Perhaps now with so many lawmakers drawing attention to this critical issue, the United States will end the detention of these vulnerable mothers and children. Now is the time to close these facilities and enact lower cost and more humane alternatives to detention.”

In March, over 80 Lutheran and Catholic bishops also sent a letter to the Obama Administration calling for an end to family detention.

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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.