September 24, 2013 STATEMENT — LIRS Welcomes the Protect Family Values at the Border Act

Press Contact: Jon Pattee
202-591-5778, jpattee@lirs.org

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the national organization established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, welcomes Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard’s (D-CA) introduction of H.R. 3130, the Protect Family Values at the Border Act to better protect migrants and refugees in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and to protect families against unnecessary separation.

This bill moves the U.S. government closer to treating all newcomers who arrive on our shores safely and fairly. Children who migrate alone are particularly vulnerable. Many embark on a dangerous journey from their home countries to escape persecution or other violence, or to reunite with family already in the United States often enduring trafficking or abuse during their journey. Children who are initially apprehended by CBP immigration officers can be separated from family members and held in substandard facilities. The Protect Family Values at the Border Act would require more specialized training in child welfare for CBP officers. The bill would also require DHS to establish standards to ensure all individuals in CBP custody receive basic humane treatment such as the provision of food, emergency medical care, translated legal documents, timely transfers and access to facilities by non-governmental organizations.

The bill promotes the United States’ commitment to family unity and protection of vulnerable populations.  The Protect Family Values at the Border Act would lead to better screening of migrants apprehended by CBP to determine whether they are parents or are in need of humanitarian protection. The bill provides DHS flexibility to prevent separating families and endangering the safety of women and children. Specifically, the Act ensures that women and children are not deported in an unsafe manner or needlessly separated from family members with whom they are traveling.

“The Protect Family Values at the Border Act represents the kind of reforms the United States needs to uphold family unity and protect vulnerable populations, including children, in our immigration policies,” said LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke. “We applaud this bill and remain committed to working with Congress and the Administration and our broad network of social ministry organizations, churches and church leaders to advance fair and humane immigration reform.”

LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States. For more information, please visit www.lirs.org.

If you have any questions about this statement, please feel free to contact Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy at (202) 626-7943 or via email at bnystrom@lirs.org.