The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is an organization that is associated with the Catholic Church in the U.S. It engages in many activities with the objective of making life better for many different minority groups in the country. One of the issues that the USCCB works extensively with concerns refugee and immigration issues, whereby the organization aims at ensuring that just like the other members of the larger population group, refugees are treated with respect and their dignity is upheld. The objectives of USCCB are categorized into five key priority areas namely, evangelization, family and marriage, human life and dignity, vocations and formation, and religious freedom. the entity works with refugees and immigrants from all walks of life regardless of the religious beliefs they to which they ascribe to promote spiritual freedom.
Organizational History and Role in Immigration Issues
The USCCB was formed in 2001 following the consolidation of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference. It therefore has its origins in the National Catholic War Council, which was created in 1917. The organization works through committees and subcommittees, which are tasked with working with needy people from different walks of life. Some of the activities include the creation of awareness through social media, advocacy, and directly working with the needy. The organizational mission is divided into three key functional areas, and these include collaboration in important issues that confront the church, fostering communication between the church and other organizations and nations under the leadership of the Roman Pontiff as the supreme leader of the church, and offering assistance to the Bishops of the church in delivering their ministry objectives to their local churches. the USCCB bases the missions for its distinct work areas with different categories of the needy based on three key areas.
The mission of the USCCB is pursued through focus on five priority areas. The first one is evangelization, which is aimed at creating opportunities for other people to know Christ through discipleship activities. Marriage and family life is the second one and it focuses on encouraging and healing families to ensure a good quality of family life. The third is human life and dignity, aimed at upholding the dignity and sanctity of life beginning from the time of conception to the time of natural death, and focusing particularly on the poor and vulnerable in the society. The fourth is vocations, which are used to promote the spread of priesthood. The last one is religious freedom, wherein the USCCB promotes and defends the freedom of worship and service within the U.S. These priority areas are based on the assertion that where there are opportunities for the church to work together across all levels of its leadership, the achievement of goals is bound to be effective. Through these priority areas, the participating bishops of the organization are guided on the best courses of action in the different mission areas in which they work, such as in working with refugees and immigration issues.
The organization’s work with refugees and on immigration issues is driven by its focus on the different priority areas and on the organizational mission. Refugees and immigrants are considered some of the vulnerable members of the society, on whom there is often little focus, yet they are also the most vulnerable many issues, such as human trafficking. One of the questions the USCCB consistently explores is what happens to refugees maybe 10 years from the time they are taken in by the United States. The organization seeks to ensure that not only do refugees have a good quality of life once they are in the U.S but that this quality of life is sustained through protection and opportunities that are made accessible to them. The vision of the USCCB in working with refugees and migration services is to ensure that refugees and immigrants, abandoned children, and people who are on the move are treated with respect, welcome, belonging, and dignity. Towards this vision, the body works with the mission of protecting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death by focusing on abandoned children, refugees, those who seek asylum, migrants, and even victims of human trafficking through advocacy and service.
Considering the vision and mission of the organization’s work with refugees and migration issues, it is evident that this work is aligned to the priorities of evangelism, human life and dignity, and even religious freedom. The vision and mission of this work point towards upholding respect to human life and dignity. Generally, the organization works through its migration and refugee services (MRS) committee to represent the interests of the Catholic bishops towards policy formulation in relation to the well-being of vulnerable individuals in the targeted categories. According to Suarez-Orozco, immigrants and refugees contribute significantly to the demographic diversity of the U.S., and actions such as suspending refugee resettlement plans can be detrimental to their stability and well-being. The USCCB works with this threat in mind as it promotes the development of policy solutions that not only ensure the safety of the population in general, but also protect the dignity of the vulnerable individuals. The high priority policy plight of the organization in regards to working with the government is to find durable solutions to the plight of refugees and to protect them.
The specific activities in which the organization engages under the MRS committee are divided into four categories depending on the specific populations served by the organization. These include refugees, immigrants, migrant and refugee children, and human trafficking victims. the roles of the USCCB when it comes to the immigrants are outlined under the ‘justice for immigrants’ initiative, which provides a framework guided by the principles of the Catholic Church for responding to immigrants through educating locals on responding to immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants who they encounter. The specific objectives outlined under the initiative include educating the public on migration, creating the political will for humane and just reforms to the immigration policy, and advocating for fair and dignified reforms of immigration policies and laws affecting refugees to reflect the principles enunciated by the bishops and the church. These objectives are accomplished through pursuit of various themes including welcome, protect, promote, and integrate practices.
The welcome theme reflects the role of the USCCB in promoting the welcoming of refugees and immigrants who have been forced from their homelands through violence, economic and environmental vulnerabilities among other factors. In this role, the USCCB implores the government to put in place structures that put in place policies that enable immigrants to settle into the country lawfully and, subsequently, taking into consideration the national security issues, and providing temporary protection prior to resettlement and legalization of stay. on the other hand, the protect theme focuses on the government’s role towards ensuring that immigrants and refugees’ right to life is safeguarded through protection from human trafficking. One of the areas on which the USCCB places emphasis is promoting intercultural dialogue among communities. The promote theme stresses the role of the USCCB in collaborating with the government towards providing an environment that supports immigrants and refugees to flourish in their lives, including through practices such as provision of internship and apprenticeship opportunities, basic assistance services for the immigrants and refugees suffering from various issues, including mental health challenges, and promoting family reunification as a facilitator of enhanced quality of life. Under integration, the USCCB promotes acceptance of refugees and migrants into the larger population by defocusing on war, discriminatory practices, environmental issues, poverty and hunger, towards opportunities that can provide enhanced life experiences. The USCCB promotes assimilation, cultural diversity, and recognition of other peoples’ values by considering immigration and refugees status as an opportunity for mutual dialogue that can also benefit the host country. Each of these roles is accomplished through collaboration not only among the Catholic bishops but also through the inclusion of other Catholic faithful and other Christians in general. Through this collaboration, the organization has realized many of its objectives, and is currently considered a leading humanitarian organization.
Funding for the Organization
The organization depends on the offerings from the Catholic Church and donations. different people are involved in funding activities either through offerings collected at different catholic parishes or through individual and group donations that are sent to the USCCB account. Additionally, funds are collected through various campaigns, such as the pro-life action campaign, which helps in supporting the objectives of the bishops under the human life and dignity priority. Gifts are also accepted by the body as part of support for the immigration and refugee program. In line with the diverse funding sources, the organization provides detailed financial reports to stakeholders, mainly in the Catholic Church.
Range of Services Offered
The main activities of the USCCB under the refugee and migration services committee entail advocacy and support to the vulnerable. Specific services offered included public education; advocacy for better conditions for the refugees, immigrants and vulnerable populations with the government as the target; and pushing for policy formulation to support and protect the vulnerable. Others are communication of the available policies to the target populations; refugee resettlement; offering specialized services for protection and care of vulnerable populations such as the victims of human trafficking. Each of these activities targets upholding of the dignity of human life at the national and international levels.
Effectiveness of Activities
The structure of the USCCB is such that it has various opportunities for realizing operations effectiveness. While the organization is primarily a group of Catholic Bishops, they have significant support from the Catholic Church in general, which gives them the capacity to leverage the support of the church, resources contributed by church members, and the call to compassion, which is a focus of Christianity, towards achieving the goal of protecting human life and dignity. The Catholic faith, to which the USCCB ascribes, emphasizes social influence beyond the individual level through elite dialogues and greater cultural dispersion, a factor that contributes to the organizational effectiveness. Additionally, the presence of many government initiatives and policies to work with refugees and immigrants give them a platform from which to direct their decisions and advocacy activities. Operations effectiveness is also realized through the recognition of the implications of collaborative decisions making, where the organization focuses on initiating activity from both the government and the public. The central positioning of the USCCB relative to both the government and the public, and the emphasis of the organization on freedom of worship both work for the good of the organization.
Possible Internal and External Causes of Friction
The scope of work handled by the USCCB subjects the organization to various internal and external causes of friction. First, financing can be a cause of friction within the ranks of the organization’s leadership. While the organization is affiliated to the church, the diversity in willingness and effectiveness of contributions can slow down projects and result in misunderstanding between leaders. the entity has to put in place an effective structure for equitable distribution of resources that focus outwards, to the refugees and immigrants, rather than inwards to address such friction. Another factor that could be a source of friction internally is failure to realize the organizational strengths and weaknesses and to work with them towards attaining the intended objectives. Valcik reports that identifying strengths and weaknesses in an non-profit organization is an essential step towards effectiveness in planning, without which conflicts are bound to arise both in the planning and in the execution stages. As much as the USCCB has a clearly defined strategic plan, the organizational strengths and weaknesses can vary considering the diversity of characteristics of refugees and immigrants, which require those dealing with them to have different competencies. Handling refugees and immigrants on a case by case basis can help to recognize the strengths and weaknesses required in dealing with them and to allocate the right resources where needed.
Complexities in social cultures and structures could be an external source of friction for the organization. According to McCambridge, various factors, such as the dominant paradigms, personal mental models, politics, and shared belief systems can contribute to friction within any organization. In an environment where there are two or more distinct sets of such characteristics, that is, those associated with the immigrants/refugees and those affiliated with the government or the church, this complexity is bound to be even more significant. In order to realize its objectives in spite of such complexities, it is recommended that the USCCB should have trained professionals that are capable of working effectively in a multicultural environment, and who can interact effectively with vulnerable communities.
The USCCB has worked extensively with immigrants and refugees in the past under its RMS committee. The outcomes of this work are mostly in terms of promoting the embracement, protection, and promotion of the lives of refugees and immigrants. The organization works through collaboration with government entities in policy making, and with the church in supporting the vulnerable in the community. Guided by their priority for protecting human life and dignity, the USCCB identifies areas in which support is needed and then advocates for the development of protective policies and enforcement of measures to protect even the refugees and the immigrants who are vulnerable. In the organization’s work, various causes of friction may be faced including diversity in willingness to give, particularly given that the USCCB depends on church offerings and donor funding; and challenges in understanding organizational strengths and weaknesses. Complexities in social structures and cultures can also constitute other challenges. Addressing these issues requires the organization to understand the context of its work and to focus on enhancing the effectiveness of involved teams for better overall outcomes.
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McCambridge, Ruth. “External Influences on Non-Profit Management: A Wide—Angle View.” Non-Profit Quarterly, 15th August 2012. Accessed May 8th 2020. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/external-influences-on-nonprofit-management-a-wide-angle-view/
Mooney, Margarita. “The Catholic Bishops Conferences of the United States and France: Engaging Immigration as a Public Issue.” American Behavioral Scientist 49, no. 11 (2006):1455-1470. Accessed May 8th 2020. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0002764206288461
Suarez-Orozco, Marcelo M. “Global Shifts: U.S Immigration and the Cultural Impact of Demographic Change. An Address.” In, Immigration and the Cultural Impact of Demographic Change, pp. 180-189. Accessed 8th May 2020. https://www.google.com/search?q=Immigrants+and+refugees+impacts+on+the+U.S+demography&oq=Immigrants+and+refugees+impacts+on+the+U.S+demography&aqs=chrome..69i57.10152j1j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#
UNHCR. “Considerations on the Issue of Human Trafficking from the Perspective of International Refugee Law and UNHCR’s Mandate.” Second Meeting of National Authorities on Human Trafficking (OAS) 25-27 March, 2009, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2009. Accessed 8th May 2020. https://www.unhcr.org/publications/legal/4ae6b66e9/considerations-issue-human-trafficking-perspective-international-refugee.html
USCCB. “2017-2020 USCCB Strategic Plan.” Accessed 8th May 2020. http://www.usccb.org/about/upload/Strategic-Plan-2017-2020-abbreviated.pdf
USCCB. “Migration and Refugee Services.” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.” Accessed 8th May 2020. http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/index.cfm
USCCB. “USCCB Timeline 1917-2017.” Accessed 8th May 2020. http://www.usccb.org/about/usccb-timeline-1917-2017.cfm
Valcik, Nicolas A. Strategic Planning and Decision-Making for Public and Non-Profit Organizations. Routledge, 2016. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=mAq4CwAAQBAJ&pg=PT66&lpg=PT66&dq=internal+causes+of+friction+within+non-profit+organizations&source=bl&ots=izeHdTCHSi&sig=ACfU3U3jcxJiz4XJEWpPWgp4xe3gsrrYeg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjO7sLloqTpAhWbVBUIHWrfDlYQ6AEwCnoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=internal%20causes%20of%20friction%20within%20non-profit%20organizations&f=false
Wood, Richard L. “The Catholic Bishops in the U.S Public Arena: Changing Prospects under Pope Francis.” Religions 7, no. 14 (2016). Accessed 8th May 2020. https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/7/2/14/htm
 USCCB, “USCCB Timeline 1917-2017,” accessed 8th May 2020, http://www.usccb.org/about/usccb-timeline-1917-2017.cfm
 USCCB, “2017-2020 USCCB Strategic Plan,” accessed 8th May 2020, http://www.usccb.org/about/upload/Strategic-Plan-2017-2020-abbreviated.pdf
 UNHCR, “Considerations on the Issue of Human Trafficking from the Perspective of International Refugee Law and UNHCR’s Mandate,” Second Meeting of National Authorities on Human Trafficking (OAS) 25-27 March, 2009, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2009, accessed 8th May 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/publications/legal/4ae6b66e9/considerations-issue-human-trafficking-perspective-international-refugee.html
 USCCB, “Migration and Refugee Services,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, accessed 8th May 2020. http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/index.cfm
 Suarez-Orozco, Marcelo M. “Global Shifts: U.S Immigration and the Cultural Impact of Demographic Change. An Address.” In, Immigration and the Cultural Impact of Demographic Change, pp. 180-189. Accessed 8th May 2020. https://www.google.com/search?q=Immigrants+and+refugees+impacts+on+the+U.S+demography&oq=Immigrants+and+refugees+impacts+on+the+U.S+demography&aqs=chrome..69i57.10152j1j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#
 Justice for Immigrants, “About Justice for Immigrants,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishop, accessed 8th May 2020. https://justiceforimmigrants.org/home/about-us/
 USCCB, “Migration and Refugee Services.”
 Justice for Immigrants.
 Margarita Mooney, “ The Catholic Bishops Conferences of the United States and France: Engaging Immigration as a Public Issue,” American Behavioral Scientist 49, no. 11 (2006):1455, accessed May 8th 2020, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0002764206288461
 Ibid., 1455-57.
 Justice for Immigrants.
 USCCB, “Migration and Refugee Services.”
 Richard L. Wood, “The Catholic Bishops in the U.S Public Arena: Changing Prospects under Pope Francis,” Religions 7, no. 14 (2016), 2, accessed 8th May 2020, https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/7/2/14/htm
 Ibid., 3.
 Ibid., 6.
Nicolas A. Valcik, Strategic Planning and Decision-Making for Public and Non-Profit Organizations, (Routledge, 2016), 113. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=mAq4CwAAQBAJ&pg=PT66&lpg=PT66&dq=internal+causes+of+friction+within+non-profit+organizations&source=bl&ots=izeHdTCHSi&sig=ACfU3U3jcxJiz4XJEWpPWgp4xe3gsrrYeg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjO7sLloqTpAhWbVBUIHWrfDlYQ6AEwCnoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=internal%20causes%20of%20friction%20within%20non-profit%20organizations&f=false
 Ruth McCambridge, “External Influences on Non-Profit Management: A Wide—Angle View,” Non-Profit Quarterly, 15th August 2012, accessed May 8th 2020, https://nonprofitquarterly.org/external-influences-on-nonprofit-management-a-wide-angle-view/