Press Contact: Jon Pattee
WASHINGTON, DC Nov. 29, 2012 – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) today asked Members of Congress to oppose H.R. 6429, the STEM Jobs Act of 2012, based on flaws in the bill’s short-term approach and its inability to deliver long-term solutions best achieved through comprehensive federal immigration reform.
“I urge Members of Congress to oppose H.R. 6429 and instead pursue comprehensive reforms to our broken immigration system that reflect our values as a nation of immigrants, and the contributions and blessings immigrants bring to our economy and society,” said LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke.
“While LIRS applauds Congress’s interest in improving the legal channels available for immigrants to come to the United States to work and reunite with close family members, this bill does not provide the meaningful reforms needed to address our broken immigration system,” said Hartke.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), working with other Members of Congress, introduced H.R. 6429 on September 18. The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a modified version of the September 18 bill on Friday, November 30.
LIRS, the national organization established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve migrants and uprooted people, would face greater challenges in its day-to-day work should H.R. 6429 be passed. Hartke identified specific ways in which the bill could negatively affect LIRS’s efforts to achieve family reunification.
“Congress should be improving ways for immigrant families to reunite rather than eliminating existing channels to lawful migration, as H.R. 6429 would do by eliminating the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program and replacing it solely with visas for high-tech workers,” said Hartke.
“At first glance, the bill appears to alleviate wait times for some immigrant families by making it easier for spouses and children of legal permanent residents (LPRs or “green card holders”) to come to the United States while they wait for a visa to become available,” said Hartke. “While this change would assist the reunification process for some families, it would not allow individuals to work during this time period and would not apply to family members already living in the United States without authorization.”
“The exclusion of a large number of likely beneficiaries makes this provision more of a mirage than a solution,” said Hartke.
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.