As humanitarian crisis continues at the border; Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Scales up Support Efforts

BALTIMORE, July 18, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied migrant children and families fleeing Central America and crossing the border into the U.S. continues, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is working closely with government leaders, faith-based organizations and community partners to scale up its support and response efforts. "These children and families are leaving perilous circumstances in their home countries. They deserve safety, due process, and compassion," says Linda Hartke, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

While the groundswell of love and support has largely been omitted from the continuing immigration debate, it has been deeply felt and noticed by faith-based and immigrant rights organizations across America in the form of people offering housing, wanting to deliver material goods, praying and advocating on behalf of children and families.

"The outpouring of support from Americans for the children and families at the center of the refugee crisis on our southern border continues to increase," says Hartke. "In the past several months as the crisis has worsened, we have seen a surge in the number of calls from people who are volunteering to become foster parents to children in need. Many have told us that they 'feel like God is calling' them to take care of these children." 

"We are now fielding between 80 and 100 referrals per day from people wanting to volunteer to be foster parents," says Kristine Poplawski, LIRS children's services coordinator. "That's an increase from the two referrals per day we typically receive." Many other faith-based and social service partners are reporting similar levels of inquiry.   

This spring, LIRS launched the Give the Gift of Family program to provide homes for children without family in America. The program is based on the premise that all children are God's children and that people of faith are called to welcome their neighbor, especially neighbors in need. "We feel a special responsibility towards children," adds Hartke. "They should be kept safe and be with a loving family.  Our network of heroic service partners all across the country support children and new foster families with excellence and compassion, but more foster families are urgently needed."

If you would like to volunteer to be a foster parent to a child from Central America or learn about other ways that you can help, please call 1- 877-291-1061 or visit our website at http://lirs.org/bordercrisis/.

Press contact: Miji Bell
410-230-2841 mbell@lirs.org

SOURCE Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service



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