USCCB's Justice for Immigrants campaign marks 15 years of advocacy

A border fence is seen Sept. 24, 2019, between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is marking the 15th anniversary of the Justice for Immigrants campaign "to unite and mobilize" Catholic organizations and individuals "to welcome, protect, promote and integrate immigrants and refugees coming to and living in the United States.”

In that time, the campaign and the Catholic Church as a whole have accomplished much "to advance the humane treatment and legalization for immigrants," said Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB, and Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington, who is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

But "that the work is far from done," the prelates said in a joint statement Sept. 29.

"The church redoubles its commitment to the Justice for Immigrants initiative and to recognizing the human dignity and rights of immigrants and refugees and the promotion of legalization and legislative reform," Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Dorsonville said.

"Our efforts are rooted in the Gospel and the need to recognize the face of Jesus in every person. Because of this, we will continue our work to educate Catholics about the church's teaching on promoting the human dignity of every person, including the immigrant and the refugee," they said.

Bishop Peter Baldacchino of Las Cruces, N.M., celebrates Mass for migrant farmworkers in Hatch, N.M., Sept. 26, 2019, during a pastoral encounter by U.S. bishops with migrants at the border. The pastoral visit, sponsored by various offices of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other national organizations, aimed to highlight the church's ministry to migrants, the border conditions and immigration laws affecting them, and their material and spiritual needs. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

The Catholic bishops, other Catholic leaders and the Justice for Immigrants campaign "will also continue to encourage lawmakers and community leaders to prioritize reform of our broken system and to avoid politicization of our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters," they added.

In 2004, the USCCB made immigration reform a major public policy priority of the U.S. Catholic Church.

A year later "after engaging broad stakeholders," the USCCB created the Justice for Immigrants campaign in an effort to unite and mobilize a growing network of Catholic institutions and individuals in support of humane treatment of immigrants and refugees and immigration reform," according to a USCCB release.

The campaign's website,, includes USCCB statements on immigration and related topics, including "Dreamers" legislation in Congress; Catholic social teaching; anti-trafficking resources; information on COVID-19 and its impact on immigrant communities; and the stories of immigrants themselves. Information on the site is routinely updated, according to the USCCB.

To commemorate its 15th anniversary, Justice for Immigrants is conducting a webinar series; it began Sept. 30 and will continue every Wednesday through Nov. 12.

It also has issued a new policy priorities document, available in English and Spanish, which is organized around what Pope Francis referred to as "our response to the challenges posed by contemporary migration: Welcome, protect, promote and integrate."