Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the national organization established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, welcomes the introduction of the Refugee Protection Act of 2016 (S.3241/H.R.5851). The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Leahy (D-VT) and in the House by Representative Lofgren (D-CA).
Today there are over 20 million refugees worldwide, close to 5 million of these refugees are mothers, fathers, children, grandparents and others who have fled their homes in Syria in search of survival. Closer to home, hundreds of thousands of families have fled violence in Central America looking for safety. While this historic displacement could leave us feeling powerless to help, the Refugee Protection Act is an avenue to ensure that the United States remains a leader in the international effort to offer robust protection and new lives for refugees, asylum seekers, vulnerable children and other migrants.
The Refugee Protection Act aims to update U.S. laws on refugee and asylum processes that are barriers between vulnerable persons and the protection the United States has pledged to provide. Among other improvements, the legislation requires reforms to the immigration detention system to ensure that asylum seekers are not detained for a long period of time or needlessly required to wear ankle tracking devices, can understand how the asylum-system works, and are held in more appropriate detention conditions if detention is deemed necessary. The bill also ensures all children and other vulnerable individuals have legal representation in removal proceedings.
“The United States has a rich legacy of welcoming refugees and providing shelter to those who face persecution and torture in their home country,” said LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke. “This legislation would allow America to renew and improve our commitment to the vulnerable men, women, and children who have fled here seeking safety and a chance to rebuild their lives.”
LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership in 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.
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.