New partnership to help families reunite using donated airline miles

Dominican Sister Donna Markham, executive director of Catholic Charities USA, speaks about immigrants and refugees May 4, 2018, at All Saints Church in Portland, Ore. "These are our brothers and sisters, not freeloaders," she told listeners. (CNS photo | Ed Langlois, Catholic Sentinel)

By Catholic News Service

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) — Catholic Charities USA and Miles4Migrants have formed a new partnership to help members of immigrant and refugee families who have been separated be able to reunite.

Through donated airline miles, the two organizations will work with local Catholic Charities agencies to identify those who need assistance with purchasing airfare to reunite with their families, said a Sept. 20 announcement on the partnership.

“At the heart of the work of Catholic Charities is caring for the most vulnerable among us,” said Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. Based in Alexandria, the national office represents 166 diocesan Catholic Charities agencies.

“It is in that spirit that we support our agencies’ efforts to assist immigrants and refugees who arrive in this country,” she said in a statement. “We are excited for the increased opportunity this partnership provides to reunite families separated at our borders.”

Miles4Migrants is a volunteer-driven, nonprofit charity that uses donated frequent flyer miles and money for the relocation of refugees and those seeking asylum “to start a new beginning in a new home,” said the announcement.

“We couldn’t be more excited about our new partnership with Catholic Charities,” said Seth Stanton, CEO and co-founder of the organization. “Our shared mission and values around keeping families together create a strong foundation, and we look forward to working together to reunite many refugee and asylum seeking family members in the years to come.”

Miles4Migrants said it has recently received an “outpouring of support and influx of airline-mile pledges,” which has allowed it to expand its services and partnerships to assist families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Catholic Charities said its staff and volunteers have seen firsthand “the devastating, lifelong impact separation can have on children.”

“Agency staff see the trauma suffered by the children they currently serve in foster care, and now by the migrant children taken from their parents and placed into foster care and detention facilities,” it added.