Press Contact: Miji Bell
Washington, D.C., July 30, 2014 – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the national organization established in 1939 by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, strongly opposes H.R. 5230, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill introduced in the House of Representatives.
Our faith calls us to stand for welcome, justice and compassion for all vulnerable persons seeking safety on our shores. Additionally, our experience serving more than 500,000 resettled refugees and almost 10,000 children who arrived in the United States alone compels us to advocate for just and fair treatment for all migrants and refugees, especially now when thousands of families and children are coming to America seeking refuge. If passed, H.R. 5230 would have devastating effects on vulnerable children, asylum-seekers, families, refugees and other migrants.
Among other troubling provisions, the House proposal would:
- Drastically underfund the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the government agency responsible for serving resettled refugees, survivors of human trafficking, and other vulnerable populations as well as providing shelter and care to unaccompanied children in the United States
- Roll back critical legal protections for children included in the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008
- Increase the number of mandatory detention beds to keep vulnerable families with children behind bars
- Expedite processing that will result in individuals with fear of persecution falling through the cracks
- Order the Department of Justice to rely more on videoconferencing in immigration courts and temporary Immigration Judge teams instead of increasing access to justice
- Simply put, H.R. 5230 is a wholly inadequate response to a pressing humanitarian need and fails to live up to our legacy as a nation of welcome and justice for those fleeing persecution.
We urge members of the House of Representatives to oppose H.R. 5230 and instead work to shelter and protect vulnerable children and families. We call on Representatives to approve funding legislation that robustly sustains the lifesaving work of ORR, adequately funds the Department of Justice to ensure all migrants and refugees receive justice, and rejects the harmful practice of family detention.