LIRS Announces Renewed Efforts to Assist Asylum-Seeking Families Abandoned by the Federal Government at Bus Stations and Parks

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PRESS RELEASE – LIRS Announces Renewed Efforts to Assist Asylum-Seeking Families Abandoned by the Federal Government at Bus Stations and Parks

For Immediate Release:
March 22, 2019

Danielle Bernard; 410-230-2888

BALTIMORE—In the latest response to the growing, critical humanitarian crisis at our nation’s border, LIRS (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service) today announced renewed efforts to partner with local affiliates to assist asylum-seeking families abandoned by the federal government.

Since December, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been releasing large groups of migrants directly from detention centers into unfamiliar locations, sometimes in the dead of night, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. This is stranding thousands of traumatized, asylum-seeking families—many with young children or infants—at unsafe locations, including bus stations and public parks.

In response, LIRS today announced revitalized efforts to coordinate with local partners and churches to increase local sheltering capacity and pledged to create more sustainable operations for an emergency support network for families recently released from immigration detention. This includes providing shelter, clothing, food, showers, and transportation on to the family’s intended destination.

“These families are coming here for safety. Our response as a nation cannot be to dump children and families onto the streets,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of LIRS. “LIRS is proud to partner with churches and dedicated volunteers to provide families with shelter, food, and clothing. Because people are being abandoned with nowhere to go, we will do whatever we can to provide for those in need.”

While some members of the Administration have proposed increasing the number of beds in family detention centers, more detention beds is not the solution. The real solution involves alternatives to detention, which LIRS has been able to provide through our work.

“Families seeking asylum are human beings, with the legal right to seek asylum here in America,” Vignarajah added. “Our coalition of faith leaders, nonprofit organizations, and volunteers are here to help—as we always have—but now more than ever, we need new government resources to create a long-term, sustainable, and humane solution.”


Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is one of the largest immigration and refugee resettlement agencies in the United States, and only one of two agencies called on by the U.S. government to help reunite children with parents after family separations. LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership working with and advocating for refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration, and other vulnerable populations. Through 80 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.

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