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News // Immigration and Asylum

LIRS Launches Baltimore Welcome Center

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LIRS Staff

June 16, 2023

Contact: Tim Young |

Baltimore, MD– Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) opened its newest Welcome Center in Baltimore with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its Inner Harbor headquarters on June 13.

LIRS, which is the nation’s largest faith-based nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving immigrants and refugees, operates additional Welcome Centers in six other cities in the U.S. Earlier this year, ELCA World Hunger provided LIRS a $400,000 gift to support programming in Baltimore.

The Baltimore Welcome Center will connect refugees and asylum seekers to community and social services, legal assistance, education, and healthcare as they rebuild their lives in an area ranked as the second-best in the United States for immigrants, according to a recent George W. Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative report. Welcome Center programming will also feature mental health support, as many children and families have experienced trauma in their home countries and on their journey to the U.S.

“The life-changing services offered at our Baltimore Welcome Center will complement existing local resources currently available for immigrants and refugees starting their new lives in our community,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of LIRS. “The Welcome Center will be more than a building, it will represent an opportunity to build a better Baltimore —not just for immigrants and refugees, but for all who call our city home.”

The Baltimore Welcome Center will further incorporate LIRS’s workforce development programming to help immigrants access meaningful career opportunities and assist employers in finding talent amid nationwide labor shortages that have left Maryland with more than 200,000 unfilled job openings, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“My first few months living in Baltimore were tumultuous times filled with uncertainty, but I began to feel empowered, motivated, and embraced when I started working with LIRS’s New American Cities team.” Norma Asimba, client of LIRS’s New American Cities program. “In a span of six months, LIRS staff helped me stabilize my living situation and finances and secure a job with a Fortune 500 company, which gave my life more meaning and purpose.”

“What LIRS does on a daily basis is truly world-changing. The assistance the Welcome Center staff will provide to refugees and immigrants settling in this area demonstrates the dedication and honor of what it truly means to care about another human being,” said Bill Ferguson, president of the Maryland State Senate.

Photo credits: Philip Laubner for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

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