Migration & Refugees

We are called to welcome the stranger.

Columban missionaries serve migrants and refugees in a dozen countries throughout Asia Pacific and the Americas, as well as on the U.S. – Mexico border. Keeping in mind the Gospel mandate and our Catholic Social Teaching, we strive to “welcome the stranger” and to protect and promote the rights of migrants and refugees everywhere.

As Columbans, we believe we are called to both serve the needs of migrants and to address the root causes of migration.

We advocate for action on root causes of migration.

In 2015, the number of migrants internationally reached 244 million, including 20 million refugees (UN Migration). These include economic migrants compelled to move to feed their families, refugees and internally displaced persons fleeing persecution and environmental crises, and victims of human trafficking.

We recognize the right to migrate in order to seek both safety and a higher quality of life, but often global economic policies, environmental crises, and conflicts result in grave inequalities and unstable conditions forcing people to move. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has recognized, “all peoples have the right to conditions worthy of human life and, if these conditions are not present, the right to migrate.”

We advocate for compassionate immigration reform.

Columbans respond to the harsh realities that migrants face, including separation from their families and imprisonment in detention centers and jails. Compassionate immigration reform is necessary to ensure family unity, protect the rights and dignity of migrants, and heal our communities.

On the U.S. – Mexico Border, countless migrants have risked death and deportation to cross into the U.S. in order to flee the violence and instability in their home countries. In the midst of a destructive militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, Columbans call for a more compassionate border policy that affirms the dignity of migrants and celebrates the vibrancy and importance of border communities which continue to welcome our migrant brothers and sisters.

We advocate for reforms to stop human trafficking.

Migrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. Victims of human trafficking often leave their home countries to seek better economic conditions to support their families. This too can lead to exploitation of migrants, putting them in danger of death or serious injury, sexual abuse, and low wages. As God calls us to respect the dignity of every human life, we must continue to support policies that represent the interests of migrant workers and refugees.

Migration Resources:


Migration & Refugees

  • The Joy of Welcoming the Stranger

    Parishioners at St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Kapaa on the Island of Kauai in Hawaii are known for their tradition of warmly greeting visitors and their outreach to those in need. At each liturgy, a parishioner with a big smile encounters a visitor and warmly says, “Aloha.” Then, each visitor receives beautiful hand-knit lei from the parish. When my spouse and I received our leis, a parishioner told us that each lei represents joining St. Catherine of Alexandria Church with each visitor’s home parish to make one community...

  • A Long-Distance Phone Call on Mother’s Day

    On this Mother’s Day, I will be sure to call my mom. Even across the world from her, I will remember the second Sunday of May, a day on which I always tell my mother how grateful I am to be her son. But on this Mother’s Day, May 14, I will challenge myself anew to acknowledge and express gratitude to the many other supporters of their families whom I encounter, even those who don’t lead their families in exactly the same way as my mother leads mine. Mariel has seen her 16-year-old son only a handful of times...

  • Faith-based Organizations to Congress: Border Wall Proposal Inconsistent with Interfaith Values

    As Congress returns from recess just ahead of an April 28 deadline for funding through the end of the current fiscal year, 39 prominent national faith-based organizations and 41 state & local faith-based organizations and congregations urge members of Congress to oppose any efforts to build a wall or other barrier across the U.S.-Mexico border...

  • Immigrants are no Strangers

    Lenten season in this border city of El Paso, Texas is a vibrant time. Our various parishes host beautiful Stations of the Cross, retreats for all ages, and even massive reconciliation services. Additionally, the menus of many local restaurants offer Lenten meals, which are heavily influenced by Mexican cuisine such as Capirotada (sweet bread dessert), Nopalitos Asados (fried cactus), and Pescado a la Veracruzana (fried fish Veracruz style). The border is a place full of things influenced ...

  • Catholic Faith Leaders Speak in Support of Refugees

    Today representatives from national Catholic religious orders and advocacy organizations responded to the new executive order issued by the Trump administration. Defending Catholic values and recalling scripture passages and Pope Francis, these leaders expressed overall opposition to this new immigration executive order. "We must always remember that we are a nation of immigrants and refugees and we are called to stand in solidarity with them...

  • Renew Pope’s Message of Mercy at the Border

    A year ago today, over 300,000 people, including many members of the Columban community, gathered in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and across the border in El Paso, Texas to hear Pope Francis’ transformational message. On his frist trip to the US-Mexico border, he reinforced our faith’s call to open our hearts to the suffering of others, including migrants and refugees. In support of the pope’s message of welcome, we released a statement calling for immigration and border policies that reflect his...

  • Outlook on the Border from Cristo Rey

    Arms stretched wide, the Cristo Rey’s eyes survey the distance with a mixture of pain and hope. At an elevation of almost a mile, the mountain peak on Sierra de Cristo Rey is already well above its surroundings, but the limestone statue's additional 40 feet of height grants it an omniscient perspective: El Paso marks the end of Texas, and beyond the international border, a trickling Rio Grande, Ciudad Juarez sprawls flat into the beginnings of Mexico. Having just reached the platform at the base of the Cristo Rey, I surveyed the same panorama. I had been invited by...