Lutheran leaders visit Capitol Hill to push for Immigration Reform
David Vasquez, Luther College campus pastor, met with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., on April 1 to express the support of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for fair and compassionate immigration reform. Vasquez said that, as a person of faith, he recognizes that he is called to welcome the sojourner and walk alongside migrants and refugees as they rebuild their lives in the United States. This is the message he took to Capitol Hill for the Lutheran Immigration Leadership Summit, hosted April 1-2 by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
"At a time of unprecedented mobility in our lives and around the world, our elected leaders need the voices of people of faith to engage the challenges and opportunities brought about by globalization," Vasquez said. "Core to Christianity and many other faith traditions are the stories of people on the move, and these stories come to life daily in our rural communities."
"Comprehensive immigration reform would lift a veil of fear from hundreds of workers, families, and students in our communities, creating desperately needed stability in the heartland of America where the future of so many of our rural communities is threatened by shrinking (and aging) populations" said Vasquez, who visited the offices of Reps. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa and Tom Latham, R-Iowa, and Sen. Chuck Grassley R-Iowa as part of the summit. Vasquez also met with the President's Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the White House.
"We're meeting with more than 40 congressional offices and policy makers at the White House today, and we're grateful for the Lutheran and community leaders who have come together to urge the President and Congress to move forward on fair, just and compassionate reform," said Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy. "Thanks to their voices, this powerful message is being heard across Washington, D.C."
Forty two Lutheran and community leaders are taking part in the two-day summit, engaging in direct conversation with lawmakers and policy makers and discussing the dire need to transform America's broken immigration laws into a welcoming, just and compassionate system.
LIRS's principles for immigration reform include providing a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, ensuring enforcement measures are humane and just, protecting families from separation, promoting integration of vulnerable migrants and protecting U.S. and migrant workers.
"Between the record number deportations, the devastatingly high number of Syrian refugees who need homes, and the inaction in the House of Representatives, now, more than ever, is the time to unrelentingly voice the need for immigration reform. Our faith calls us to welcome the stranger and love the neighbors God give us. It is with this conviction that these Lutheran leaders call on their elected officials in Washington," said LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke. "Their faith perspective, leadership and the lived experience of the communities they serve guide the immigration reform debate towards a humane and welcoming conclusion."
LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through more than 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States. Celebrating 75 years of service and advocacy this year, LIRS has helped more than 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.