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Postville, Iowa, One Year Later; Lutherans Call for Immigration Reform


May 12, 2009

Lutherans Call for Immigration Reform Before End of 2009

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Lutherans are urging the Obama Administration
to reform immigration enforcement actions, and for Congress and
the president to enact "fair and humane" immigration reform before
the end of 2009.
In a May 12 statement, 16 synod bishops of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Lutheran Immigration and
Refugee Service (LIRS) expressed concern over the damage to
communities and families by immigration raids, detention and
other enforcement actions.
Based in Baltimore, LIRS is one of the nation's leading
agencies in welcoming and advocating for refugees and other
immigrants. It works on behalf of the ELCA, the Lutheran
Church-Missouri Synod and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America.
U.S. President Barack Obama "has made encouraging statements
about the need to overhaul our immigration system," the statement
"Our faith tradition of love, justice and mercy compels us
to seek reforms that promote family unity, protect human rights
and create an earned path to permanence that enables undocumented
people to come out of the shadows," the statement said.
"Without these reforms children will live in fear that their
parents will be taken away, business owners will lose clients and
churches will lose spiritual leaders. Reforming our immigration
laws is not only good for immigrants, it is good for families,
churches, businesses and communities," the statement said.
The release of the statement -- "Postville, Iowa: One Year
Later" -- marks the first anniversary of the largest U.S.
immigration raid. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security apprehended
389 immigrant workers May 12 last year at a meat processing
plant in Postville.
The federal government spent more than $5.2 million to
conduct the raid, the statement said. Devastating ripple
effects continue to impact every corner of the Postville
community, it said.
"Hundreds of families have either been separated by
deportation or have left Postville. Others remain in legal
limbo, waiting for the completion of their cases. Many
businesses have closed, boarding up their windows. More
businesses face bankruptcy. Decreased student enrollment
will likely force the Postville schools to consolidate with
other school districts," the statement said.
In regard to detention, "we remain concerned that it
has become a one-size-fits-all solution for people
apprehended in raids as well as other enforcement actions,"
it said. "Individuals are often sent to multiple detention
facilities as they move through the immigration court system."
For the 2009 fiscal year, ICE estimates that it will
detain about 450,000 undocumented immigrants in hundreds of
federal, state and local government and privately-run
facilities, costing U.S. taxpayers $1.7 billion, the
statement said. "Instead of spending nearly $100 per day
to detain individuals who pose no risk to the community,
ICE could release them using bond, parole and other
alternatives to detention, options that are more humane and
use fewer taxpayer dollars."
"On the anniversary of the raid in Postville we are
reminded that harsh enforcement measures put children at
risk, divided families and drove other immigrants even
farther into the shadows," the statement said. "The raids
threw an entire community into disaster and economic peril
as a result of a failure to recognize that immigrants and
refugees are integral to our communities and to America's
economic, cultural, social and political fabric."
- - -
"Postville, Iowa: One Year Later" is at http://www.lirs.org/News/NewsReleases/20090512PostvilleAnniversary.htm
on the Internet.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or news@elca.org

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