STATEMENT – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Deeply Disappointed That Today’s Decision Will Needlessly Block Refugees from Coming to the U.S.

For Immediate Release:
July 19, 2017

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Michelle Blundell
mblundell@mrss.com; 202-478-6176

BALTIMORE, MD – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is disappointed by today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that will continue to needlessly block refugees with “formal assurances” from being allowed to access safety and welcome in the U.S. Those with assurances from a U.S. based resettlement agency, such as LIRS, will continue to be blocked from entering the U.S. pending appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Despite the good news that the administration must now accept the broadened definition of a “bona fide relationship” to include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, the ban will still largely apply and negatively affect tens of thousands of refugees who were already thoroughly vetted by intelligence and security agencies and approved to come to the U.S., and had welcoming communities waiting to help them in their search for safety in the United States.

“While we are pleased the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision to broaden the definition of close family ties, including allowing grandparents and aunts and uncles, we are very disappointed that today’s decision will mean the Trump administration can continue to block already approved and vetted refugees from coming. This will mean that the vulnerable refugee families and children that LIRS, and the communities we work with, had already begun preparing to welcome will be needlessly denied access to protection, throwing their future safety into limbo,” said Kay Bellor, vice president for programs at LIRS.

“Today’s decision continues to show the deep harm and confusion that this executive order is causing to the populations LIRS and our partners seek to serve. The life-saving U.S. refugee program shouldn’t be something tied up in the courts. Our nation has long been the world leader in protecting those fleeing violence, persecution, and war – no matter their country of origin, family connection in the U.S., or religion. That should continue, and we call on the administration and the U.S. Government to stand with us in this work and end this misguided executive order.”

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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.