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

  • Security of Children for Security of the Nation

    “If we want security, let us give security.” Bishop Seitz quoted Pope Francis as he was testifying on the hearing titled, “Ongoing Migration from Central America: An Examination of FY2015 Apprehensions.” The hearing was hosted by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The focus was the Central American children and families who cross the southern border. Through the testimony of the witnesses, I learned about the current situation for children making...

  • Welcome the Stranger, because You Were Once Strangers in a Foreign Land

    On his recent visit to the United States, Pope Francis was clear on how we should treat our migrant sisters and brothers: We should “not [be] fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.” He encouraged Members of Congress to respond to migrants “in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.” Only weeks later, new legislation in Congress clearly contradicts this message of welcome. The Senate has scheduled a vote for Tuesday, October 20th on...

  • Open Your Heart and Door

    “Migrants have always been marginalized as a part of the ‘throw-away’ culture,” said Sister Ann Scholz in her opening remarks for a recent briefing entitled, “The Pope Francis Effect on Immigration: Protecting Families and Advancing the Common Good”, sponsored by the Justice for Immigrants Coalition. Sister Ann continued by referencing Pope Francis’ quote to “open your heart and door” to migrants. This sentiment is the hope of the U.S. Catholic community when it comes to immigration policy, especially along US-Mexico border. The first panelist, Father...

  • Tell President Obama to Welcome More Syrian Refugees

    More than 4 million refugees have fled Syria. But the U.S. has only resettled a small fraction of those, about one in 10. This is the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Last week President Obama announced the administration’s plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming year. While this is a step in the right direction, this low number is an inadequate response. Sign the Petition: Tell President Obama to welcome more refugees. This petition is a great first step. Already more than 75,000 people...

  • Defend Human Dignity in the Trafficking in Persons Report

    Throughout the world, Columban missionaries have dedicated their ministries to the accompaniment and rehabilitation of labor and sex trafficking victims. In this year’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, the U.S. State Department upgraded the country of Malaysia from a Tier 3–the worst rating-- for trafficking violators – to a Tier 2 Watch List. This comes after the passage of an amendment to Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or “fast track” legislation, which bars the U.S. from trading...

  • Columbans Welcome President’s Immigration Executive Action, Urges Congress to Act

    On Thursday, President Obama unveiled his much-anticipated Executive Order on immigration, which will grant 5 million of our undocumented immigrant brothers and sisters relief from deportation. The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, which represents the social justice priorities of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, commends the President’s effort to reduce the suffering and separation of families. Columban Priests on the U.S.-Mexico Border witness...