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Advocacy // Empowering Refugees

LIRS Delivers Powerful Testimony at Congressional Hearing

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LIRS Staff

October 27, 2023

LIRS President and CEO Krish O'Mara Vignarajah spoke to members of Congress about the need to rebuild the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and secure additional pathways to protection for those seeking safety.

“Immigration is a win-win, but to fix the system and offer refuge to those seeking safety, we need strong leadership: from the President, from the American public, but most importantly from Congress,” said Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) President and CEO, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, in compelling testimony to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement on Thursday, October 19, 2023.

Vignarajah’s testimony emphasized the urgent need for improvements to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, safeguards for unaccompanied migrant children, passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act, protections for those displaced by climate disaster, and a coherent national system to support asylum seekers that leverages the expertise of refugee resettlement organizations.

With a rich history spanning nearly 85 years, LIRS has played a pivotal role in welcoming over 750,000 refugees and immigrants as they rebuild their lives in the United States. Our commitment to protecting those fleeing persecution and violence began during World War II, and has since extended to welcoming and empowering those seeking safety from across the world. The subcommittee hearing comes amid unprecedented global displacement, including challenges U.S. communities face in the absence of a robust domestic humanitarian system to respond to the needs of asylum seekers, particularly as political entities continue to send newly arrived individuals and families to interior cities without advanced notice or coordination.

“We have seen what happens in the absence of a thoughtful, developed infrastructure to provide casework and assistance to asylum seekers: a political circus rife with campaign stunts like privately chartered jets and buses, floating buoy walls in the Rio Grande, and more. Immigrants are not pawns or punch lines,” testified Vignarajah. “America has the capacity to receive refugees and immigrants in a manner that honors our economic, humanitarian, national security, and religious freedom principles – played out in welcoming communities across the U.S. It is left to Congress to find the political will to honor these commitments.” LIRS encourages supporters to raise their voices alongside those seeking safety by joining our advocacy efforts today.

Vignarajah’s opening statement can be viewed below, and her written testimony can be found here.

Thumbnail for a video entitled 'The Refugee Program and an Expansion of Lawful Pathways'

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