Lutherans cut back services to refugees, immigrants

Posted: Friday, November 15, 2002

CHICAGO (AP) -- Restrictions on immigration since Sept. 11 and a drop in donations have led Lutherans to make extensive cuts in one of their joint programs for refugees and newcomers to the United States.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service eliminated 14 jobs and froze salaries last month to stabilize the agency's finances.

Before the restructuring, the agency had employed about 70 people at the national office in Baltimore and in other parts of the country.

The ministry is supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Annie Wilson, a top administrator of the immigration agency, said about 80 percent of her ministry's budget comes from the federal government and, since the number of refugees is down by thousands because of the terrorist attacks, federal funding has been reduced as well.

''We're not worried for ourselves,'' Wilson said. ''We're worried for the refugees.''

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