I am often struck by the compassion, energy, and deep devotion of those boldly advocating for immigration reform. The past few days, LIRS hosted a summit of Lutheran leaders in Washington, D.C. We had productive meetings on Capitol Hill and at the White House. These energizing meetings proved that we in the faith community will not stop pushing for just and compassionate reform. We will continue to advocate for migrants who seek safety and freedom, and for family unity, so that children never have to fear that their parents won’t return home. Below is a letter we wrote to President Obama, signed by 37 Lutheran leaders and outlining our steadfast commitment to the sojourner.
Dear President Obama:
As people of faith, we pray and call for immigration policies that keep families together, protect individuals forced from their homelands or fleeing persecution, and value the great gift immigrants are to our churches, communities and nation.
On behalf of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and the undersigned leaders from the Lutheran Immigration Leadership Summit and the communities we represent, thank you for today’s meeting with staff from your Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and for your willingness to hear our concerns.
We join the cry of the prophet Amos: “…let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
We lift our voices in speaking to members of the House and Senate, and to your Administration. Compassionate immigration reform must become the law of the land. Every day without action does harm to families, to communities, and to our nation.
We were encouraged by your announcement that you will review immigration enforcement practices. We believe that such a review is long overdue. While we await legislative action on just, compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform, we are counting on your Administration to exercise its authority to bring about an end to the excessive detention and deportation of immigrants by providing for:
- Broader and increased use of prosecutorial discretion at all points of law enforcement decision-making to reduce harmful enforcement practices and family separation.
- An end to the arbitrary use of detention and to the detention of vulnerable migrants such as asylum seekers and survivors of torture, and true access to justice.
- Increased availability of community-based alternatives to detention that do not unnecessarily deprive individuals of their freedom and for migrants who are neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk.
Today, we and fellow Lutheran leaders are meeting with Congressional leaders to call for swift immigration reform that reflects our American values and the calling of our faith to love and serve our neighbors. We yearn for a nation that honors the contributions that new and aspiring Americans make to our society and economy, and we long for immigration policies that strengthen families within our borders.
You, as President, can ease the pain caused by unnecessarily high rates of detention and deportation. While we appreciate your leadership on comprehensive immigration reform, we urge you to alleviate the hardships and separation experienced by families caught up in our unjust immigration system. We pray that you follow this way of justice, and by doing so, show the positive impact that stabilizing migrant communities can have of all of us.