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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

*NEWS RELEASE*
LUTHERAN IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE SERVICE WELCOMES INTRODUCTION OF NEW LEGISLATION FOR COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM

BALTIMORE, May 4, 2004-A statement by LIRS President Ralston H. Deffenbaugh Jr.:

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) commends Senator Edward M.
Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Representatives Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and
Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) for introducing the Safe, Orderly, Legal Visas
Enhancement Act of 2004. The legislation would go a long way to reform, in
a comprehensive manner, U.S. immigration policy.

We look forward to working with Congress and the White House to craft an
immigration system that unites families, ensures worker rights and human
rights, allows immigrant workers to live freely and openly in our society,
and gives those willing to contribute to our economy and society a true path
toward citizenship in the United States.

People who migrate to the United States come for family, work, and
freedom-to unite with loved ones, to take up employment, or to seek refuge
from persecution. Under the current system, many persons in the United
States-including refugees-have to wait not just months but years to be
reunited with their closest loved ones. Husbands and wives, parents and
children, brothers and sisters are separated for far too long. Meanwhile,
most of the undocumented people living in our communities are doing vital
jobs that make our communities stronger. They are honest, hard-working
people who have put down roots in America and made great contributions to
our country. They take care of our parents in nursing homes, clean our
offices at night, harvest the food for our tables, and care for our
children.

As a faith-based agency, LIRS has witnessed the human cost of our current
immigration system and is committed to immigration policies that incorporate
four core principles: promoting family unity, making it possible for those
working "below the radar" in our country to live openly within the law in
our society without fear, protecting human rights and worker rights, and
providing a path to permanence.

Several months ago we applauded President Bush for bringing comprehensive
immigration reform into the center of the policy debate. We are encouraged
by the continued focus on comprehensive reform evidenced in this current
proposal and urge the Administration to work with Congress to craft real
immigration reform so that our immigration laws work.
All sides of the immigration policy debate agree that current immigration
policies have failed. We at LIRS will vigorously engage in the debate,
informed by the real-life situations of our fellow Lutherans and other
neighbors who are honest and hardworking but who happen to be undocumented,
or whose families are separated by borders.

###



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