Saturday, September 27, 2014

Let's be a safe haven for those fleeing persecution

Last week, members of Congress passed a temporary funding measure before heading home to their districts for the next 7 weeks leading up to the November election. The stopgap measure, which funds the government from the start of Fiscal Year 2015 on October 1 through December 11, includesno new funding for immigration and refugee agencies within the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Health and Human Services (HHS) or Justice (DOJ) that care for vulnerable refugees, children and families seeking safety in the United States.  Funding conversations in Congress are expected to resume after the elections.

The temporary funding measure does, however, allow DHS and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within HHS to spend funds “as necessary” to maintain services at Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 levels. Just last week, ORR was able to release $71.5 million in funds for social services that empower arriving refugees to become valuable members of their new communities. The funds had been withheld as ORR struggled to resettle refugees and care for children seeking refuge from Central America.

Support funding for refugees and vulnerable migrants in FY15
Without additional FY 2015 funding, ORR’s ability to serve vulnerable people under its care will be severely limited. The withholding of funds this summer had drastic impacts on LIRS’s resettlement partners throughout the country—including cuts to preventative health services, language training and school assistance for refugee children—because of uncertainty in their budget. We need your help urging Congress to fully fund services for vulnerable migrants.

As a nation of welcome, we must show vulnerable newcomers compassion and justice. LIRS continues to urge Congress to fund ORR at levels sufficient to welcome refugees, unaccompanied children, and other vulnerable migrants. We also call on Congress to fund immigration courts adequately so families and children have a fair chance to tell their stories before an immigration judge.

With Members of Congress in their home districts for the next 7 weeks, your voice is critical to ensure that vulnerable newcomers receive the welcome they deserve. Please take a moment to visit LIRS’s Action Center to tell your elected representatives that people of faith stand for funding measures that honor our nation’s proud history as a safe haven for those fleeing persecution. You can also visit LIRS’s Congressional Recess Advocacy Guide for helpful tips to meet with your Senators and Representative while they are home to discuss the importance of supporting refugees and protecting vulnerable children from Central America.
Thank you for standing for welcome.

In peace,

Brittney Nystrom
Director for Advocacy

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