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WASHINGTON D.C. – Amid unprecedented global displacement and historically high arrivals of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, and in the wake of the tragedy that claimed the lives of at least 50 migrants yesterday, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) today announced its policy recommendations for the United States to lead by example in managing migration efficiently and humanely.
These recommendations expand upon and improve current protection pathways through creative, well-resourced use of existing programs. LIRS believes this is possible through parallel efforts to rebuild pathways of protection for people escaping persecution, expand programs to facilitate family reunification, and work with Congress to secure resources and pass immigration bills with existing bipartisan support.
To that end, LIRS recommends the following actions:
- Rebuild and improve the asylum system through (a) increased processing, legal, and adjudication capacity, (b) the institution of case management and community-based alternatives to detention, and (c) immediate access to work permits.
- Expand in-country regional capacity for adults and families by (a) expanding access to and streamlining the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for Latin Americans by expediting processing through improved technology and increased resources, and (b) meaningfully restarting and expanding family reunification parole programs, particularly for Cuban and Haitian populations, that reduce reliance on making the treacherous journey to the southern border.
- Expand in-country capacity to help children, who would otherwise cross the southern border as unaccompanied children, to reunify with family in the U.S. by expediting processing through the Central American Minors program.
- Fully utilize employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa programs, increasing access and efficiency in processing visas while ensuring worker protections and providing much-needed workforce support for U.S. employers.
- Advance bipartisan solutions in Congress to authorize visa recapture for unused visas, remove barriers to lawful permanent residency, improve border security using innovative technology, and pass immigration bills with strong support (such as efforts to provide visas for doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel, recertify and employ immigrants with international degrees or credentials).
- Address drivers of displacement such as climate change through immediate- and long-term strategies, and designate countries that have become unsafe for Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure.
“Our nation requires a reckoning with the fatal fallout of its deterrence-only framework,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “Real reforms are sorely needed to move us past the partisan politics that have plagued discussions of asylum and our southern border for far too long.”
“There are actionable solutions which honor our moral and legal obligations to those seeking safety, strengthen our economy, and deprive criminal cartel smugglers the opportunity to exploit vulnerable children and families,” concluded Vignarajah.
Download the full LIRS Policy Recommendations document online here