Scope of Responsibility
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Committee on Migration sets broad policies and direction for the Church's work in the area of migration, coordinating closely with the USCCB Administrative Committee, on which the Committee on Migration Chairman serves. The Committee oversees and provides guidance to Migration and Refugee Services, which is comprised of five offices:
- Office of the Executive Director
- Office of Management and Administration
- Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs
- Office of Resettlement Services
- Office of the Special Programs
These MRS offices represent the bishops' interests in policy formulation and communication, advocacy, education, refugee resettlement, and other specialized services to at risk and vulnerable populations, such as victims of trafficking and unaccompanied minors.
The Committee actively promotes the U.S. bishops' migration-related interests with public policy- makers at the national and international levels. Committee members and MRS staff periodically testify before Congress and meet with Administration officials to advocate the bishops' positions. Among the high priority policy concerns of the Committee is refugee protection and finding durable solutions to their plight. In this context the Committee occasionally arranges site visits to refugee areas of the world to witness the conditions of the refugees and to call for adequate responses on the part of the international community.
Committee on Migration Meetings
The Committee convenes three times per year. These meetings are usually scheduled to coincide with the bishops' General Assembly and Administrative Committee meetings. During recent meetings, the Committee has discussed a variety of topics encompassing the work of Migration and Refugee Services. A representative sampling of these topics includes:
- strategies for more effective and responsive welcoming of newcomers into the life of the Church
- implementation strategies for various statements of a public policy nature
- refugee admissions and needed advocacy
- initiatives on behalf of trafficking victims
- expansion of services to children
- immigration reform, religious worker visas, Mexican/U.S. border migration issues
- network capacity issues
Each June, the Committee on Migration reviews and approves the annual plans for the work of Migration and Refugee Services for the following calendar year, and must review and approve the annual budget for MRS, before submission to the USCCB Priorities and Plans Committee and to the full body of bishops for final approval.
Migration Committee Statements and Testimony
The Committee Chairman occasionally issues statements articulating Catholic social, theological, and/or moral teachings that have a bearing on pressing or current issues of concern to the Committee. Likewise, Committee members and MRS staff occasionally provide testimony before Congress. The Committee also periodically develops pastoral letters and statements for issuance by the full body of bishops.