LIRS and USCCB Release Report on Serving Separated and Reunited Families

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PRESS RELEASE – LIRS and USCCB Release Report on Serving Separated and Reunited Families: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward to Promote Family Unity

For Immediate Release:
October 17, 2018

Media Contact:
Danielle Bernard; 410-230-2888

Washington, D.C.—Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS) released a report today entitled Serving Separated and Reunited Families: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward to Promote Family Unity. The report documents the work of Lutheran and Catholic agencies who assisted the Administration with reuniting separated families during the month of July and provides recommendations for a more humane way forward.

“I am tremendously proud of how quickly LIRS, USCCB/MRS, and our Lutheran and Catholic partners nationwide, stepped up to provide support for families during this time of crisis,” said Kay Bellor, Vice President of Programs for LIRS. “As we have been for decades, communities of faith were there, poised and ready, to love and serve our neighbors in need. It is our deep hope that the lessons learned from this time in our history will prevent the cruel separation of children from their parents from happening again.”

In July 2018, LIRS and USCCB/MRS assisted over 1200 families who were reunified after being separated under the Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy. The report highlights the work that was undertaken by Lutheran and Catholic partners on the ground, and gives a unique data point regarding the separated and reunited families.

The report, along with resources and information about family separation, are available on the LIRS website at

The full text of the report can be found here.


For more than a decade, LIRS has been monitoring and advocating for children and families seeking asylum at our southern border. In 2007, LIRS published Locking Up Family Values detailing the practice of family immigration detention. In 2014, LIRS published Locking Up Family Values Again drawing attention to the renewed use and abuse of families at the border as an increasing number of families and children fled violence in Central America. Then in 2017, LIRS worked with coalition partners to publish a new report entitled Betraying Family Values that brought the matter of family separation to the attention of the Senate Judiciary Committee, ultimately resulting in the submission of a formal complaint to the Department of Homeland Security.

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. Through nearly 80 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.


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