WASHINGTON, DC April. 4, 2014 – 42 Lutheran leaders visited lawmakers Wednesday on Capitol Hill and at the White House, calling for virtuous and compassionate immigration reform. From the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Lutheran ministry organizations, they emphasized that as people of faith, they are called to welcome the sojourner and walk alongside migrants and refugees as they rebuild their lives in the United States.
The leaders had face-to-face conversations with more than 20 members of Congress, including House and Senate leadership and members of Congress who are themselves Lutheran. They also met with staff at nearly 70 congressional offices, sharing stories of how our nation’s broken immigration system affects their congregations and communities by creating a culture of fear and leaving children without parents. The meetings were part of the annual Lutheran Immigration Leadership Summit, hosted by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS).
“Our broken immigration laws have torn families apart, detained hard-working mothers and fathers, and held back aspiring young adults,” said Linda Hartke, President and CEO of LIRS. “The Lutheran Immigration Leadership Summit is an excellent example of the way our moral leaders are putting their faith into action by boldly standing for welcome. From Houston to New York City to San Diego, newcomers have fueled our economy and revitalized our communities. We must honor the gifts new Americans bring to our country and act for reform now.”
A group of ten leaders also met with the President’s Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the White House. A letter was delivered to President Obama after the meeting, signed by 37 of the leaders. The letter thanked President Obama for his leadership on immigration reform and for reviewing immigration enforcement. However, it also called on President Obama to “ease the pain caused by unnecessarily high rates of detention and deportation.” They wrote: “we urge you to alleviate the hardships and separation experienced by families caught up in our unjust immigration system.”
These actions emphasize that the faith community will not stop urging just and compassionate reform. Lutherans, as part of the faith community, will continue to boldly advocate for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, humane enforcement of immigration laws, and protects family unity, vulnerable migrants, and workers.
LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with 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. Celebrating 75 years of service and advocacy this year, LIRS has helped more than 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.