Immigration and Ethics
by The Rev. Lowell G. Almen, acting bishop

Voting members of the Grand Canyon Synod Assembly on June 14 urged advocacy for the large numbers of immigrant children who have crossed the southern U.S. border, especially in recent months. In a resolution, congregations throughout this synod were encouraged "to reach out with humanitarian aid to these unaccompanied documented and undocumented immigrant children and their families in partnership with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services."

Congregations, where appropriate, also may work through ecumenical partnerships, para-church social service organizations and other relief and service organizations, said the resolution.

Pastors and congregational leaders were urged in the assembly's action "to advocate for change in governmental policies" that put such children "in vulnerable situations."

Similar concerns are being voiced in congregations and synods throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). On our behalf, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) based in Baltimore, MD, helps these unaccompanied children through programs that facilitate family reunification, where possible. Services of LIRS also focus on children with no family in order to place them in specialized foster care. This service, however, cannot be carried out to address the long-term needs without advocacy for laws and policies that will protect and embrace these children in need.

You can join the LIRS effort to raise awareness by visiting the LIRS website addressing this concern: www.lirs.org/actoflove. This website will provide a means for you, if you choose to use it, to:

(1) Take action by signing a petition to Senator Reid and Speaker Boehner asking for Congress to acknowledge this crisis and improve protections for the children.

(2) Take action by signing a thank you letter to President Obama for acknowledging the crisis and calling on FEMA to provide aid for the children.

(3) Take action by using #actoflove on your social media accounts (details on the webpage).

The ELCA -- through the churchwide ministry known as Lutheran Disaster Response -- is working in partnership with LIRS in this concern. In addition to designated support for this cause through Lutheran Disaster Response, you also may designate contributions to LIRS.

LIRS has asked that any chaplains who speak Spanish and who are willing to visit with the children in the centers contact LIRS (LIRS.org). Such a Spanish-speaking chaplain also may make her or his availability known to the Rev. Michael Stadie, program director for Lutheran Disaster Response, via ELCA.org at the Lutheran Center in Chicago.