March 11, 2015 PRESS RELEASE — LIRS Invites Applications for Immigration Detention Visitation Ministry Grants

Published On: Donate

Press Contact: Miji Bell, (410) 230-2841

BALTIMORE, MD – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) will award grants of up to $1,500 each to empower churches and organizations to launch, improve and/or expand services to individuals isolated in immigration detention.

“On any given day, the U.S. government incarcerates more than 34,000 immigrants in over 250 detention facilities nationwide authorized to hold individuals detained for civil violations of immigration law,” said Liz Sweet, director of Access to Justice, the LIRS unit that offers support to immigrants impacted by detention. “The list of facilities has recently grown to include three family detention centers housing women and children.”

LIRS is committed to partnering with congregations and organizations to provide hope, strength and a voice to the detained by supporting the creation and expansion of visitation ministries. “As people of faith, we called to welcome the stranger and visit those in prison,” said Sweet. “Visitation ministry provides a powerful platform to live out God’s call.” It is a commitment to provide friendship and regular visits to the men, women and children isolated in detention.

LIRS is offering two unique grant opportunities. LIRS will award $500 – $1,500 grants to established visitation ministries to help expand or improve services to migrants in or immediately following their release from detention. The deadline to apply for established ministry grants is March 24, 2015.

Additionally, LIRS will award $500 – $1,500 in seed funding to congregations and community groups looking to start a visitation ministry at an immigration detention facility in their community. Applications for seed funding will be accepted on a rolling basis.

The funds awarded will be drawn from a funding pool provided by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS).

“We’re extremely grateful to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod for enabling LIRS to support the creation and expansion of immigration detention visitation ministries,” said Sweet.

“For people in detention, the months or even years spent awaiting asylum or another solution can be extremely lonely and full of fear. A regular visit is one of the most practical ways in which we can respond in love to a deeply divisive political issue and a tragic human experience,” said Sweet.

Churches and organizations interested in applying for either funding opportunity are encouraged to visit our website to learn more and download the application. Please direct all questions to Sarah Harrs at

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