STATEMENT – President Calls for Border Wall Funding, LIRS Calls for Compassionate Immigration Reform
For Immediate Release:
January 8, 2019
BALTIMORE — Tonight, President Trump addressed the nation to call for funding a border wall that will not work. His address was punctuated by inflammatory rhetoric and inaccurate, fear-based claims that grossly misconstrue the situation at our southern border.
LIRS (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service) is actively working with partners on the ground, offering support to asylum seekers and immigrants as they are released from detention. Through this work, it is clear that instead of wasting $5.7 billion on a border wall, our country needs an investment in infrastructure to support the safe and expeditious processing of vulnerable individuals seeking safety in the United States.
“People are fleeing for their lives. Instead of welcoming them to safety as we have always done, our country is turning its back,” said LIRS Board Chair, Bp. Michael Rinehart. “We are called to welcome our neighbors in this great time of need. Demonizing immigrants as criminals is unconscionable. We, as people of faith, will stay true to our values—values that call for compassionate immigration reform, due process, and practical policy solutions.”
LIRS is deeply concerned that the misinformation embedded in the President’s address will further the mistreatment and fear that has damaged the lives of so many families already:
- MYTH #1: Illegal border crossings have reached crisis levels.
FACT: According to the government’s own report, illegal border crossings are at historic lows. More people left the country through our southern border than entered it last year.
- MYTH #2: Immigrants bring increased crime rates and terrorism.
FACT: A recent study showed that undocumented immigrants commit violent crimes at lower rates than U.S. citizens. LIRS partners on the ground report that the vast majority of migrants coming through are families with young children.
- MYTH #3: Securing funding for the wall is necessary to address border security.
FACT: The wall is the most expensive and ineffective way to address border security and will not address drug-related crime. Drug smugglers primarily opt for more inconspicuous and expensive ways to transport drugs to the United States, like concealed in vehicles, cargo ships, or even private planes and drones.
“What has been presented to Americans tonight is out of line with the reality at the border. It is aimed at fueling fear and anger toward the same people who are relying on us for safety and protection,” continued Bp. Rinehart. “When the reality of family separation came to light, the American public responded with compassion and outrage. We hope they will again see this for what it is: a political ploy that will cause undue harm to children and families while failing to make our nation any safer.”
As LIRS continues to offer protection to the individuals and families seeking asylum at our border, we urge the public to push back against the rhetoric of fear and demand compassionate immigration reform from Congress.
Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is one of the largest refugee resettlement agencies 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 nearly 80 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.