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In June 2004, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration and The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, INC. (CLINIC) Board of Directors resolved to make comprehensive immigration reform, with special emphasis on legalization, a major public policy priority within the Church. Many other national Catholic institutions have also made legalization a policy priority.
As part of the Church's response, a diverse group of Catholic organizations with national networks have decided to join the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope campaign designed to unite and mobilize a growing network of Catholic institutions, individuals, and other persons of good faith in support of a broad legalization program and comprehensive immigration reform. Its goal will be to maximize the Church's influence on this issue, consistent with the immigration reform principles enunciated in the bishops' pastoral letter.
The Campaign's primary objectives are:
- To educate the public, especially the Catholic community, including Catholic public officials, about Church teaching on migration and immigrants;
- To create political will for positive immigration reform;
- To enact legislative and administrative reforms based on the principles articulated by the bishops; and
- To organize Catholic networks to assist qualified immigrants obtain the benefits of the reforms.
Father John Burke
Father John Burke was elected to be the first General Secretary (1919) of the National Catholic Welfare Council which, in 1922, changed its name to the National Catholic Welfare Conference. During his stint as General Secretary, he oversaw the formation of the Department of Migration, which eventually morphed into what we know today as the Department of Migration and Refugee Services.
Bruce Mohler was the first director of the National Catholic Welfare Conference's Department of Migration. He served for over Forty years in this position and had an important role in the shape of immigration law in the United States during this period.