Gregory Chen, Director for Legislative Affairs, email@example.com
Eric Sigmon, Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org
SPOTLIGHT: IMMIGRANTS IN DETENTION
In May, there was exceptional focus on the U.S. immigration detention system, including three delegation visits to detention facilities, two new bills introduced, and major reports on medical treatment for those detained.
VISITS TO DETENTION FACILITIES On May 21, ELCA Bishops Schreiber (S/E MI Synod) and Schleicher (N/W Lower MI Synod) toured the Dickerson Detention Facility in Detroit with staff from Freedom House, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan and LIRS.
On May 13, ELCA Bishops Mauney (VA Synod), Gordy (S/E Synod), Graham (Metro DC Synod), and Knoche (DE-MD Synod), synod staff, and LIRS staff, toured the Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover, VA. The delegation also met with Sen. Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Lofgren (D-CA) to discuss immigration detention. The next day the Richmond Times-Dispatch ran a story on the visit quoting Bishop Gordy. Click HERE for the article.
On April 28, Bishop Boerger (N/W WA Synod) and a delegation of State Public Policy Office Directors of the ELCA toured a detention facility in Tacoma, WA.
NEW DETENTION REFORM BILLS In May, Sen. Menendez and Rep. Lofgren introduced the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act, H.R. 5950/ S. 3005, companion bills that would require basic minimum standards of medical care for people held in immigration detention. LIRS supports both bills and is actively working toward their passage.
On May 21, Bishop Riley (NJ ELCA Synod) spoke at a press conference with Menendez, Lofgren, and Rep. Conyers (D-MI) to support the bills. On June 4, Bp. Riley will testify before the House Immigration Subcommittee on medical treatment for immigration detainees.
HEADLINES ON IMMIGRATION DETENTION In May, the Washington Post, New York Times, and 60 Minutes published investigative reports documenting grossly substandard medical care for immigrants in detention.
REP. HOLT MENTIONS LSSNJ IN SPEECH
Rep. Holt (D-NJ) mentioned LSS of New Jersey in floor speech in the House May 5. Click HERE for statement.
LIRS AND ELCA RESPOND TO THE IOWA RAID
On May 12, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, conducted the largest single immigration raid in U.S. history in Postville, IA, arresting about 400 individuals in a town of just over 2000 residents. Given the level of humanitarian need that resulted from the raid, the ELCA designated Postville a domestic disaster. Click HERE for the ELCA press release. LIRS staff helped coordinate assistance, including legal counsel to those affected. On May 20, Bishop Ullestad of the ELCA N/E Iowa Synod and LIRS issued a joint statement about the raids submitted for the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protection hearing on “ICE Workplace Raids: Their Impact on U.S. Children and Families.” Click HERE to read the statement. LIRS President Ralie Deffenbaugh spoke at a press conference that day organized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
NEW LAW TO HELP IRAQIS AND AFGHANS
The Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill to modify the Special Immigrant Visa program for Iraqis and Afghans whose lives are at risk due to their service to the U.S. The bill has been sent to President Bush.
UPDATE ON THE SAVE ACT
In April, LIRS and 16 ELCA bishops sent letters to Congress opposing the SAVE Act, a bill that would mandate all employers to verify the work authorization of their employees based on a database fraught with errors, expand detention space by 8,000 beds, and require local police officers to enforce federal immigration law. These efforts combined with the work of other advocates have held back SAVE and other “look-alike” bills. The issue has been addressed in various congressional hearings. Click HERE to read the LIRS letter on SAVE.
THE CONGRESSIONAL REFUGEE CAUCUS
LIRS and our refugee resettlement affiliates are working with our Refugee Council USA to recruit members of Congress to join the Bi-Partisan Refugee Caucus, which has championed the needs of refugees. After hearing from Peter D. Vogelaar from Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, Rep. Arcuri (D-NY) joined the caucus. Vogelaar and LIRS met with Arcuri’s office on May 6 to thank him for joining.