As One-Year Anniversary of Family Separation Approaches, LIRS Releases Report on How to Address the Humanitarian Crisis at Our Border

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PRESS RELEASE: As One-Year Anniversary of Family Separation Approaches, LIRS Releases Report on How to Address the Humanitarian Crisis at Our Border

For Immediate Release:
March 28, 2019

Danielle Bernard; 410-230-2888

Washington, D.C.—Today, LIRS (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service) released a report detailing our nationwide holistic case-management and alternative to detention program, launched after LIRS and USCCB assisted the U.S. government in their family reunification efforts following the end of the administration’s zero-tolerance policy.

Between April and June of 2018, more than 2,600 children—some as young as 8-months-old—were forcibly separated from their parents under the zero-tolerance policy. Most of the families have since been reunited, but the inhumane treatment of migrant families crossing our border continues. The report titled, Maintaining Family Values: Emergency Family Case Management Services for Reunited Families, offers solutions to what has been a stain on America’s history.

“We do not have to put families in detention or strip children away from their parents to enforce our immigration laws,” said Krish Vignarajah, President and CEO of LIRS. “The crisis on our border calls for bold leadership and innovative solutions—holistic programs that provide for immediate needs and offer community-based support. These kinds of alternatives to detention have proven to work. Not only are they a fraction of the cost of detention, but they result in extremely high compliance rates with immigration proceedings.”

LIRS’s Family Reunification Support Program offers assurance of stable housing, referrals for pro bono legal services, access to medical care, and school enrollment or education support for reunified families. The goal was to provide for the immediate needs of families and to support their initial integration into their communities.

The report also urges the U.S. government to end harmful policies and practices, such as forced family separation and family detention, and to turn toward community-based alternatives to detention that maintain family unity and keep children in the least-restrictive setting. These programs cost a fraction of detention while ensuring that newcomers respect their legal obligations within the U.S. immigration system.

The full text of the report can be found here.


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 upon 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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