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LIRS 2022 Advocacy Priorities

At Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) we stand with and advocate for migrants and refugees, transforming communities through ministries of service and justice. Our advocacy is rooted in our faith, inspired by those we serve, informed by our team of experts, and guided by our vision that all migrants and refugees should be protected, embraced, and empowered in a world of just and welcoming communities.

Each year, LIRS sets forth Advocacy Priorities that serve as a roadmap for our work with the administration, legislative offices, faith partners, network affiliates, coalitions, and immigrant leaders.

LIRS believes in the promise of a just, fair, and generous culture of welcome, and protection for all groups, especially vulnerable migrants, including Black and Brown populations, women and girls, and LGBTQIA+ persons. To that end we will focus our work in 2022 to influence, shape, and create systems, law, and polices that will…

Ensure safety and stability for our Afghan friends and allies.

Reunify all Separated Families, including through the expansion of protection pathways. 

  • Support and advocate for an increased pace for reunification of children separated under the Trump administration family separation policies at the U.S. southern border.
  • Implore the Biden administration to end border policies like Title 42 and “Remain in Mexico” that functionally separate children from adult family members.
  • Call on the Biden administration to expedite family reunification of Afghan unaccompanied children separated from family members – both abroad and in third countries.

Close all Immigration Detention Facilities & Increase Community-Based Case Management.

  • Urge the Biden administration to recognize the moral and fiscal imperative to end profiteering off of human suffering and invest in humane, community-based alternatives to detention.
  • Call on the administration to extend the President’s Executive Order on reforming our incarceration system to eliminate the use of privately operated detention systems to include DHS contracts with private prisons and local governments.
  • Advocate to congressional appropriators on the Hill to repurpose funding to U.S. agencies — like US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) or Health and Human Services (HHS) — that are better equipped to respond justly and humanely to an influx of asylum-seekers.
  • Push for the generous appropriations of funding towards pilot family case management programs that are a true, human-centered alternative to immigrant detention or surveillance.

Innovate, Rebuild, & Protect the U.S. Refugee System. 

  • Call on the Biden administration to commit to a robust refugee cap of 125,000 for Fiscal Year 2023 and to delineate the practical improvements his administration has and will take to restore refugee admissions to the U.S. that now sit at an historic low.
  • Urge the Biden administration to re-double efforts to restaff relevant agencies in the U.S. Refugee System, including PRM offices, DHS Refugee Officers, Refugee Support Centers, and circuit ride teams conducting refugee interviews abroad.
  • Advocate for the Biden administration to invest in innovative mechanisms that restore the refugee program, including by expanding U.S. embassy and NGO referrals for resettlement and piloting virtual interviews for refugees referred for resettlement.
  • Work with congressional partners to reimagine and champion legislation that would provide essential guardrails for the refugee program to mitigate the vulnerabilities of discrimination exposed under the Trump administration.

Fortify Pathways to Citizenship & Integration for Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum-seekers.

  • Call on the White House to establish an Office of New Americans (ONA) that will act as a champion for the rights of immigrants, refugees, and aspiring Americans ensuring their social, economic, and civic integration into our communities. Similarly, work with congressional leaders to create a statutory basis for this new office.
  • Urge the administration to generously and urgently implement the Executive Order on strengthening integration and inclusion efforts for new Americans.
    Reduce naturalization application backlogs and increase access to naturalization by reducing or eliminating filing fees and increasing disability and other waivers.
  • Break down barriers to citizenship by supporting initiatives that focus on marginalized communities and increase citizenship test pass rates.
  • Champion congressional appropriations towards significant workforce development training, education and upskilling for immigrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees.

Secure an Asylum Pathway for Vulnerable Groups.

  • Call for the end of the Biden administration’s use of Migration Protection Protocols also referred to as “Remain in Mexico” and Title 42, which has functionally halted asylum at the southern border.
  • Implore the Biden administration to the end of deportations of Black asylum-seekers, including Haitians and Cameroonians who have been disproportionately impacted by extra-legal deportations. Seek avenues to bolster Black-led organizations and Black immigrant groups and allies who are leading such calls.
  • Champion the introduction of family case management for asylum-seekers as an alternative to detention and adjacent immigrant surveillance programs.

Invigorate Efforts Surrounding Climate Disaster and Displacement

  • Urge the Biden administration to explicate time-bound deliverables and the authorities of its new Interagency Taskforce on Climate Displacement.
  • Work with Senate and congressional leaders on re-introducing legislation that would create statutory-bound migration pathways for persons displaced by climate disaster.
  • Invest in climate resilience programs in the U.S. and abroad that integrate the assets and skills of persons displaced by climate disaster in carbon sequestration and coastal restoration programs.

Support Economic Immigration, New American Economic Empowerment, and Opportunities

  • Call on the Biden administration to create a National Office of New Americans in the Executive Office of the White House
  • Urge the Biden administration to strengthen and protect the New American workforce through programs that increase economic stability and advancement and reduce the incidence of exploitation.
  • Expand opportunities to help foreign-trained immigrants and others acquire the necessary certifications, licenses, and English language skills to pursue their professions in the U.S.
  • Enhance efforts to promote worker rights and protections by increasing awareness of and access to key offices including DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and DOJ’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.
  • Increase capacity at the Small Business Administration to provide business advising, mentoring, and training to immigrant entrepreneurs
  • Expand the Ethnic Community Self-Help (ECSH) program at ORR, which supports ethnic community-based organizations in helping refugees adjust to life in America and integrate into the community.

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