Bishop Jaime Soto returns to role as chairman of CLINIC’s Board of Directors

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto has been named to chair CLINIC’s Board of Directors by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops of Catholic Bishops. Bishop Soto has served on CLINIC’s board since 2002, including a previous term as chairman from 2007-2010. 

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is very pleased that Bishop Soto has accepted the appointment. “Bishop Soto will do a great job leading CLINIC as chairman. His experience is critical at this time as asylum seekers, as well as DACA recipients and TPS holders, need CLINIC and its members to increase the availability of high-quality legal assistance.”

Bishop Soto noted his long connection to CLINIC, dating to its founding in 1988. “Since CLINIC was established, I have been privileged to work alongside of very dedicated professionals who strive to protect the human dignity of migrants and help them to become new Americans,” he said. He added that CLINIC “is a dynamic, committed community of men and women who walk with the immigrants and refugees seeking to make the United States their home.”

CLINIC Executive Director Anna Gallagher welcomed Bishop Soto to his new role. “He is a passionate defender of immigrants’ rights,” she said. “I’m very pleased with his appointment and am looking forward to working more closely with him.”

Bishop Soto is a native of California — the eldest of seven children — who has long advocated for the rights of immigrants and worked in Hispanic ministry. In addition to his degrees in philosophy and divinity studies, he holds a master’s in social work from Columbia University, which he put to use as director of Immigration and Citizenship Services at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Orange, in California. He took the Catholic Charities post just before the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed, which led to a nationwide legalization program. CLINIC was founded in 1988 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as part of the church’s response to the need for affordable immigration legal services.

He was ordained as a priest of the Diocese of Orange in 1982 and was first named a bishop in 2000, as an auxiliary bishop in his home diocese. He first went to the Diocese of Sacramento in 2007 as coadjutor bishop. Upon the retirement of Bishop William K. Weigand in November 2008, Bishop Soto became head of the Sacramento Diocese.

Bishop Soto described CLINIC as “a vital part of the charitable ministry of the Catholic Church in the United States. The work of CLINIC is a work of mercy bringing the wisdom and justice of the Lord Jesus to many vulnerable families. “

Bishop Soto succeeds Bishop Kevin J. Vann of Orange, California, who served two terms as chair of CLINIC’s board.

“I had the honor of having Bishop Vann as chairman of our board as I joined CLINIC a year ago,” said Gallagher. “His support and guidance were invaluable in helping me step into a very complex role. His service to CLINIC has been invaluable and I thank him on behalf of all our affiliates and staff for leading us with a steady hand and great wisdom.”