Catholic Identity | CLINIC

Catholic Identity

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The task of welcoming immigrants, refugees and displaced persons into full participation in the Church and society with equal rights and duties continues the biblical understanding of the justice of God reaching out to all peoples and rectifying the situation of the poor, the orphans, the widows, the disadvantaged, and especially in the Old Testament, the alien and the stranger.

Together a New People: Pastoral Statement on Migrants and Refugees.
National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1986

CLINIC’s Catholic identity infuses every aspect of its work—how it is governed, who it serves, how it treats its clients, the way it works, and why it does the work that it does.

First, CLINIC was founded by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops and is governed by a Board comprised primarily of bishops. It operates as a legal support agency for diocesan immigration programs.

Second, the kinds of cases and advocacy positions taken by the Catholic network—involving family reunification, protection of the persecuted, empowerment through work, authorization, legal status and citizenship—have their roots in Catholic social teaching.

Third, CLINIC views newcomers in their full human dignity, not solely from a legal service perspective. This requires CLINIC and its affiliates to partner with programs and agencies that can meet the non-legal needs of newcomers.

Fourth, CLINIC takes the Catholic view that advocacy draws its legitimacy from service. Service allows advocates to give voice to newcomers, not to speak “for” them.

Fifth, CLINIC has adopted a principle of Catholic social teaching—subsidiarity—to guide its programmatic commitments. Subsidiarity leads CLINIC to respect the different roles and capacities of its local partner agencies and to encourage them to assume as much responsibility for newcomers as they can. This allows CLINIC to focus its limited resources on needs that local programs cannot meet. In this way, CLINIC seeks to leverage maximum legal representation for low-income newcomers.

Sixth, the Catholic network safeguards the rights and promotes the dignity of all newcomers; it does not distinguish among prospective clients based on race, religion or ethnic background.

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Justice for Immigrants Campaign

In June 2004, the USCCB Committee on Migration and CLINIC’s Board of Directors voted to make immigration reform, with special emphasis on comprehensive immigration reform, a major public policy priority within the Church. The result was the creation of Justice for Immigrants, the Catholic Church’s nationwide campaign for comprehensive immigration reform. The campaign is designed to mobilize Catholic institutions, individuals, and others in this work. The campaign's primary objectives are:

  • To educate the public 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.

CLINIC’s largest contribution to Justice for Immigrants is to build the capacity of its network of over 250 affiliate organizations so that they can provide competent and effective legal services to the anticipated large influx of undocumented people seeking to apply for legalization. 

Learn more about the Justice for Immigrants Campaign