WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ official domestic anti-poverty agency has announced $800,000 in grants to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

“There is an urgent need to mobilize resources efficiently in order to meet the challenge,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif.

Bishop Soto, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development subcommittee, stressed that “the possibility for real immigration reform has never been closer.”

“These grants represent a distinctively Catholic contribution in promoting comprehensive immigration reform,” the bishop explained. “They will strengthen the capacity of our institutions to help immigrant families come out from the shadows and participate more actively in American society.”

The funds were approved after members of the agency decided that timely Catholic action and support were necessary to promote immigration reform.

Funding will go to promote comprehensive reform and to aid Catholic organizations that serve migrant communities.

Grant recipients include Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., which was started by the U.S. bishops to promote the rights of immigrants; PICO National Network, a group of faith-based organizations that works to help parishes and other community agencies fill local needs; and the bishops’ educational initiative, Justice for Immigrants Campaign.

The receiving organizations work to educate Catholics on Church teaching, advocate for immigration changes, support immigrants and address human-rights concerns involving migrant persons. The funds will help to further those aims in local parishes and communities and to promote cooperation and grassroots organizing efforts.

The grants will also fund initiatives to build political support for immigration among Catholics across the United States and help strengthen communities that will be affected by immigration reforms.

The most recent grants bring the total amount of money given by the agency to local immigration efforts in the last year to $3.5 million.

Bishop Soto said that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development “is poised to make a significant difference in a way consistent with our mission and identity.

“The efforts being supported are rooted in Catholic social teaching about the dignity of the human person and reflect the Church’s deep historic ties to generations of immigrants who have come to America.”