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Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

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Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is a non-profit organization that welcomes and supports refugees and migrants. It is one of nine refugee resettlement agencies working with the Office of Refugee Resettlement and one of only two that serves unaccompanied refugee minors. LIRS also advocates for just policies and practices relating to immigration and detention.


Details


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Achievements

  • In 1959, the U.N.-initiated observance of a World Refugee Year includes advocacy by LRS for the admission of more refugees to the United States and a more inclusive vision of whom LRS should serve.



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  • In 1960, Vernon Bergstrom, director of LRS, addresses the annual meeting of the NLC with an appeal for greater advocacy. Based in part on analysis from a paper entitled “immigration Policy: Moral Issues and the National Interest,” Bergstrom urges Lutherans to write their elected officials and call for an increase in the number of refugees the U.S. would admit. He also describes the shifting waves of immigration explaining that Africa, Asia, and the Middle East were becoming a greater focus for the work of LRS.



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  • In 1962, the United States admits as parolees up to 7,000 Chinese refugees flooding into Hong Kong. LIS resettles 300.



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  • In 1962, Congress passes the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act, which authorizes a resettlement program for Cuban refugees. The Act is also the first time the federal government offers financial reimbursement to state and local agencies for the cash assistance they provide to refugees. The following year, with support from LIS, the Miami Lutheran Refugee Service begins three years of assistance to some 12,000 Cuban refugees.



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  • In 1972, Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin expels some 75,000 Ugandans of Indian origin, 2,000 of whom are admitted to the United States as parolees and resettled with direct federal funding to the voluntary agencies. LIRS places 600 of the total.



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  • In 1980, The 100,000th refugee resettled by LIRS since World War II is Kao Lor, a farmer from Laos who begins a new life in Sioux Falls, SD, with his wife and daughter.


    1980


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  • In 1999, LIRS’s six-decade total of refugees resettled reaches 280,000 individuals from all parts of the world and of various faiths.


    1999


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  • In 2010, LIRS secures an increase in funding from the U.S. State Department. The “Reception and Placement Grant” LIRS provides to each new refugee doubles from $900 to $1,800 per capita.


    2010


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  • In 2014, LIRS celebrated 75 years of standing with and advocating alongside migrants and refugees.


    2014


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  • LIRS rebrands and launches Higher, an employment initiative formerly known as RefugeeWorks. Higher focuses on mentoring programs for refugees and forging partnerships with local and national employers. An unexpected and unprecedented surge in unaccompanied children crossing the southern border into the United States prompts LIRS to respond. In conjunction with federal and local partners, LIRS works to connect these children with family members, foster homes, and other vital services.


    2012


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