ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 30, 2009
Lutheran Bishops Advocate for Rights of Immigrants and Refugees
WASHINGTON (ELCA) -- Protecting children and keeping immigrant families together were repeated concerns raised by a committee of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) bishops discussing issues of immigration. The group met with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) staff and others to discuss the status of immigration reform and refugee protection services, and visited with members of Congress here Oct. 28-29.
LIRS is a joint ministry of the ELCA and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS).
The Rev. H. Julian Gordy, bishop, ELCA Southeastern Synod, Atlanta, said, "We would like comprehensive immigration reform right now. We want it to be humane -- a kind of immigration reform that protects U.S. borders but also protects family interests so that families aren't divided." Gordy chairs the ELCA Conference of Bishops' immigration concerns committee and was among seven bishops who visited with congressional members and White House administration.
"We want the raids to come to an end and find other ways of dealing with employers who are actively recruiting undocumented workers," said the Rev. Steven L. Ullestad, bishop, ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod, Waverly. "We want the policies of this country to take into consideration families and communities that are affected by the raids."
According to Ullestad, the children and community of Postville, Iowa, were "adversely affected" by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid on May 12, 2008, the largest U.S. immigration raid.
"It is not only the immigrant children who have suffered and experience the nightmares and the terror, it is all the children of Postville," said Ullestad.
The Rev. E. Roy Riley Jr., bishop, ELCA New Jersey Synod, Hamilton Square, said that his synod has a number of outreach ministries to immigrants, including participation in the "Be Not Afraid" LIRS program and an immigration task force.
"Because we have such a significant amount of outreach to immigrant communities, it means that for us we have gotten to know these people and their families," he said. "When you know their stories, you can begin to understand how the system in which they are involved works for or against them."
The 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly agreed 873 to 82 to urge comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration policies and processes, and to call for suspension of immigration raids until such reform is enacted.
Based on the assembly's recommendation, the ELCA Church Council, the church's board of directors, will be presented with a proposed social policy resolution, "Toward Compassionate, Just, and Wise Immigration Reform" next month. The proposed social policy resolution will call for:
+ reuniting families and integrate the marginalized
+ protecting the rights of people at work
+ establishing just and humane enforcement
+ revitalizing refugee protection and integration
+ addressing root causes of forced migration
Information about LIRS is at http://www.lirs.org on the Web.
Audio from the interview with Bishop Gordy is at http://media.ELCA.org/audionews/091030Gordy.mp3 and that from the interview with Bishop Ullestad is at http://media.ELCA.org/audionews/091030Ullestad.mp3 on the ELCA Web site.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog