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You shall not oppress the resident alien. Exodus 22:21-23


To uphold the dignity of every human being by advancing our nation’s legacy of welcome, LEAMNJ supports the care of refugees and immigrants. International human rights principles dictate that immigrants should only be detained as a last resort.

In the United States, immigration detention is not, in theory, meant to be punitive. Rather, the government’s sole interest in detaining individuals is to ensure compliance with immigration court dates and orders of removal. However, the current system uses a one-size-fits-all approach, presuming nearly all immigrants require detention to comply with these government interests.

LEAMNJ urges congress to maintain legal protections, reject detention, ensure access to legal services and due process, and adequately fund services for refugees, children and families. We also are working to urge Congress to support funding that serves arriving refugees, seeking asylum, trafficking and torture survivors, and an unprecedented number of unaccompanied children fleeing violence and persecution and seeking safety in the United States.




In 1998, the ELCA adopted a message on immigration that reiterated long-standing Lutheran commitments to both newcomers and just laws that serve the common core conviction was that “hospitality for the uprooted is a way to live out the biblical call to love the neighbor in response to God’s love in Jesus Christ. Two Biblical references guided the message’s direction:


1) “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34) and


2) “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35). In Jesus of Nazareth, the God who commands us to care for the vulnerable identifies with the human stranger—the person unknown and regarded with suspicion who stands on the receiving end of both welcome and hospitality, resentment and hostility. The ELCA built on this message in 2013 by passing a resolution entitled, Toward Compassionate, Just, and Wise Immigration Reform.

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