On September 8th, Congress will come back to Washington, D.C. after spending a month in their hometowns during the August recess. You may recall how Congress failed to pass additional funding to protect and serve children, refugees, families, and other vulnerable migrants before leaving Washington, D.C. Now, regrettably, we are preparing for more tense budget negotiations and unwise attempts to strip trafficking protections for children fleeing violence in Central America.
In late July, the House of Representatives passed their emergency supplemental funding bill, which LIRS staunchly opposed. The final bill stripped away critical legal protections for children included in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008 (TVPA), severely underfunded the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the agency tasked with taking care of children seeking refuge and other vulnerable migrants, and increased the harmful practice of family detention. It was also attached to a bill that eliminated deportation relief for DREAMers- young, undocumented students who have grown up in the United States.
Although Congress continues to debate whether and how to protect children and families seeking refuge in the United States, American communities have stepped up to keep children safe and give them a bright future. We are proud that over 1,777 individuals and families have contacted LIRS wanting to become foster parents for children in need of love and safety. A caring home makes a big difference in the lives of children who have endured treacherous journeys and have often survived violence and persecution.
Oswaldo Ramos is one of the children who made the journey to the United States from Guatemala after his best friend was killed by gang members. After undergoing a heart-wrenching journey to the United States, he is now in the care of Wellspring Lutheran Services in Detroit, MI where he awaits an immigration hearing that will determine his future. Despite inaction in Congress, we are encouraged by how members of our communities and congregations have extended welcome and compassion to children and families.
Congress resumes their work next week. Thus far, our nation has proudly stood as an international model for welcoming refugees with care and compassion. To honor this legacy, our legislature should proudly uphold protections for children fleeing violence and ensure sufficient funding for ORR to serve all vulnerable migrants under its care.
We will need your help safeguarding children’s legal protections and ensuring adequate funding for agencies that care for these children as well as refugees and other vulnerable newcomers.
Please visit our Action Center to urge your Members of Congress to stand with people of faith alongside vulnerable migrants and refugees. Sign up for our Stand for Welcome messages and we will notify you when urgent action is needed.