WASHINGTON--Registration for the 2014 National Migration Conference is already well underway. The conference is scheduled for July 7-10, at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel. The event is organized by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) and the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS).
With the theme "In Faith, In Solidarity, In Service," the conference will focus on the Catholic Church's response to the challenges and hardships refugees, immigrants, migrants, trafficking victims, and other persons on the move face in the United States and throughout the world. One of the primary goals is to increase public awareness on migration questions and to educate public policymakers and those interested in related migration issues. The conference also aims to develop and strengthen diocese and parish capacity to welcome and provide hospitality to newcomers and their families.
"There is a very real possibility that Congress could pass immigration reform this year. This summer's National Migration Conference gives us a real opportunity to stimulate that conversation," said Ambassador Johnny Young, executive director of USCCB/MRS, on the timeliness of the conference.
Speakers and guests include Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington; Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. State Department; award-winning documentary filmmaker Anayansi Prado; and the St. Camillus Multicultural Choir. In addition, a panel representing three U.S. government and international agencies -- the Department of Health and Human Services/ Office of Refugee Resettlement; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; and the Department of State/ Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration -- will highlight their important role in refugee resettlement.
Jeanne M. Atkinson, executive director of CLINIC, noted that the conference participants, more than 800 of whom are expected, will have an opportunity to network, share experiences, and receive substantive training at the workshops. "They will hear from and interact with legal experts, advocates, government officials, and policymakers who play an important role in shaping the laws and policies that impact immigrants and refugees," Atkinson said.
The conference will address an array of issues, including global migration trends, identifying and supporting survivors of traumatic experiences, immigration law, employment issues and Catholic social teaching on migration. Workshops include the ABC's of the Child Status Protection Act; A Call to Establish Right Relationships: Border Communities and National Immigration Policies; and Profiles of Resilience and Integration: Unaccompanied Refugee and Migrant Youth in the United States. Continuing Legal Education certificates will be available for attorneys and Continuing Education Unit certificates for social workers.
Conference attendees will also visit Capitol Hill on Thursday, July 10, to pray and advocate for immigration reform with their local representatives.
Father Larry Snyder, president of CCUSA, emphasized the strong spiritual roots for such advocacy. "Migrants, refugees, trafficking victims -- all vulnerable populations -- are our fellow brothers and sisters and are equal in the eyes of God. We should not treat them as an underclass not worthy of the protection of our laws, and that's why we must stand up for them."
Attendees will include members from pastoral, service, legal, and advocacy organizations from across the country; government and non-government partner agencies; Church officials; and other interested individuals. Conference partners include Catholic Relief Services, (CRS) Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT), and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). The last National Migration Conference took place in 2008.
Interviews with conference speakers and participants will be available. The National Migration Conference is on social media at: www.facebook.com/migrationconf and https://twitter.com/migrationconf . The conference hashtag is: #migrationconf. More information and online registration can be found at: www.nationalmigrationconference.org