STATEMENT: LIRS Concerned that “Remain in Mexico” Policy Will Endanger Asylum Seekers, Violate U.S. Law
For Immediate Release:
December 21, 2018
BALTIMORE, MD— The Administration’s “Remain in Mexico Policy,” which bans asylum seekers from entering the U.S. while petitioning for protection, comes into direct conflict with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service’s (LIRS) mission to protect and advocate for refugees and migrants seeking asylum in the United States.
“LIRS does not support policies that put refugees and asylum seekers in harm’s way,” said Kay Bellor, Vice President of Programs at LIRS. “Mexico is simply not a safe alternative to pursuing an asylum claim in the United States.”
In addition to the clear humanitarian concerns surfaced by this policy announcement, the policy violates U.S. law and international treaty obligations to offer safety to individuals seeking protection within our borders. As underscored by a recent ruling, all asylum seekers have the legal right to make a claim for protection in the U.S.
LIRS urges the Administration to uphold its responsibilities to vulnerable families and individuals seeking protection in the United States and to abide by the laws that were put in place to govern U.S. immigration by Americans and for Americans.
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. In 2014, LIRS published First Steps, a resource guide to help asylum seekers navigate the complex U.S. immigration process. In 2015, LIRS ran a Family Placement Alternatives program, which ultimately showed that alternatives to detention are cost-effective and can result in high rates of compliance. Currently, LIRS manages a detention visitation network that brings comfort and hope to thousands of detained asylum seekers nationwide. And in 2018, LIRS was one of just two organizations called upon to aid the U.S. government in vital family reunification efforts. Through 80 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.