January 31, 2014 STATEMENT — LIRS Statement on House Leadership Principles for Immigration Reform

January 31, 2014 — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the national organization established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, welcomes the announcement of principles for immigration reform released by Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) but urges bolder action.

“It is very encouraging that House leaders are taking steps toward immigration reform. We know that the American people increasingly support a sensible, humane solution to this national challenge. We urge the House to seek a solution for undocumented immigrants that creates a roadmap to full citizenship and integration,” said Linda Hartke, LIRS President and CEO.

“As people of faith, Lutherans have long called for just and compassionate reforms to our broken immigration system that acknowledge the dignity of every person and the blessings and contributions of newcomers to our nation, communities and families. House Republicans are taking important steps in this direction, and we urge them to go further.  This moment requires courage and boldness in living out fundamental American values and those of our faith.  Our nation is counting on their leadership.”

The Republican principles call for DREAMers, or undocumented migrants who were brought to the United States as children, who meet certain standards to be able to achieve legal status and eventual citizenship. The principles also provide for the ability of undocumented migrants to live in the United States “legally and without fear” once they meet rigorous standards. The principles stop short, however, on components LIRS believes in strongly such as providing full citizenship and integration for all undocumented migrants. LIRS is also concerned about the principles’ emphasis on a greater availability of employment-based visas over the availability of visas for family members.

LIRS will work with the 113th Congress to advance immigration reform legislation that aligns with our principles:

  • Provide an earned roadmap to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
  • Ensure the humane and just enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, specifically by reducing the use of immigration detention and expanding the use of community support programs for immigrants who do not need to be detained.
  • Protect families from separation and ensure an adequate supply of visas for families seeking to reunite.
  • Provide adequate resources and protections to ensure the successful integration of refugees, asylees, survivors of torture and trafficking, unaccompanied minors, and other vulnerable migrants.
  • Ensure the protection of U.S. citizen and migrant workers.

Started by Lutheran congregations in 1939, LIRS walks with migrants and refugees through ministries of service and justice, transforming U.S. communities by ensuring that newcomers are not only self-sufficient but also become connected and contributing members of their adopted communities in the United States. Working with and through partners across the country, LIRS resettles refugees, reunites children with their families or provides loving homes for them, conducts policy advocacy, and pursues humanitarian alternatives to the immigration detention system.

If you have any questions about this statement, please contact Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy at bnystrom@lirs.org or 202.626.7943.