STATEMENT – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Statement regarding today’s SCOTUS decision regarding travel ban

For Immediate Release:
June 26, 2017

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Miji Bell
mbell@lirs.org; 410-230-2841
Michelle Blundell
mblundell@mrss.com; 202-478-6176

WASHINGTON, DC – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court ruling that will allow a portion of the travel ban to go forward. This decision will have an immediate effect on our ability to conduct the lifesaving work providing safety and protection for refugees.

“Today’s decision is not a final one, nor should it be seen as a victory for anyone,” says Linda Hartke, LIRS president and CEO. “Limiting the U.S.’ ability to protect the most vulnerable is not a victory, nor was this ruling essential to ensuring a thorough review of the refugee vetting processes. While we wait for the Court to hear the case this fall, we encourage the Administration to conduct its review of the refugee program as expeditiously as possible, and in good faith towards the shared goal of continuing to protect the safety and security of our country, while continuing the lifesaving protection that the refugee program offers to the vulnerable few.”

The Court’s ruling narrows the scope of the lower courts injunctions, and will mean individuals whom the U.S. has historically offered protection through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) will be denied that protection – at least for now – despite their having been appropriately vetted through top security and intelligence agencies. “There are many unanswered questions as to how this narrowed injunction will affect resettlement agencies and the refugees we are committed to protecting,” Hartke continued. “What we do know is that the Court’s ruling will impact our immediate ability to provide safety and protection to those most vulnerable, incuding unaccompanied refugee minors, torture survivors, and those persecuted for their faith.

The U.S. has historically been a leader in offering protection to refugees. Last week, as we marked World Refugee Day, we learned that worldwide displacement crisis is now the worst in recorded history. LIRS hopes that the Administration will adhere to being generous with admitting refugees with family ties and ‘a bona fide relationship with an entity in the U.S.’, as the Court has ruled.

“At LIRS, our faith calls us to do this work and protect the most vulnerable,” stated Hartke. “We have seen this commitment through our dedicated faith partners, and in communities across the nation. While today’s decision may make it harder for us to protect those who need our assistance the most, our call to live out our faith through our vocation is undeterred.”

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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.