Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska (LFS) is deeply concerned about the impact of immigration enforcement raids. The effect on the people arrested, their children and families, and their entire community is immediate and devastating. Children in separated families wonder whether or when they will ever see their parents again. This leads to fear and trauma. Furthermore, these raids drive people – documented and undocumented – further into the shadows.
The people arrested were active members of our communities: they worked in businesses, shopped in local stores, rented property or bought homes, attended school functions for their children, and worshipped in churches – in other words, they were being good neighbors. And the impact of such raids on small communities is immeasurable. There must be a more humane way of addressing concerns about undocumented workers.
Many people picked up in the raids had charges related to false identification and unauthorized work. We do not condone the use of false identification by workers or businesses. We also do not condone actions that exploit workers. However, instead of arresting people, putting children at risk, tearing families apart, and hurting local economies, a viable means for hard workers to become documented needs to be created. With the current rate of unemployment in the state of Nebraska and elsewhere, there is a strong need for workers, and yet there are an extremely limited number of visas available.
The impact of the recent raids in Nebraska underscores the need for fair and humane comprehensive immigration reform that keeps family unity at its core. Children must be protected and families must remain united. Human and worker rights must be safeguarded. Marginalized, undocumented people must be able to safely come out of the shadows and live without fear. A pathway to permanence should be provided for people who have put down roots and contributed positively to our communities.
People with deep roots in our communities are being detained and deported at huge taxpayer expense, leaving communities in the lurch with harmed economies and no workers to perform critical work. Rather than raids that ignite fear and mistrust of authorities, traumatize children and leave communities in chaos, our broken immigration system must be fixed.
As Lutherans across the country have asked for fifteen years, we continue to implore Congress to exercise its rigorous oversight of workplace raids to assure that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):
- Tailors the use of raids so that, while addressing concerns of national security and/or danger to the community, ICE mitigates the sociological and economic impact, and emotional trauma on the community;
- Communicates and works closely with community social service and pastoral care workers to mitigate the traumatic impact on children, families and the community;
- Facilitates access to legal counsel;
- Maintains people in their communities and close to family by releasing them from custody to go through their hearings outside of detention; and
- Develops streamlined communication mechanisms that allow family members and lawyers to locate and connect with those in detention.
Please help meet the urgent needs of those impacted in O’Neill, Atkinson, Royal the and surrounding communities.