January was National Slavery and Human Trafficking prevention month, leading up to the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita whose feast day is Feb. 8. St. Josephine Bakhita was a young southern Sudanese girl who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. She eventually was bought by an Italian diplomat and taken to Venice, where she encountered the Catholic faith.
Because the issue of migration evokes disparate responses from different parts of the electorate, it never will be resolved unless there are compromises, which are an essential element of our political system. After many years of experience in dealing with migration as a social policy issue, I would like to offer some ideas of how this politically charged social problem might be resolved.
In the past two years, we have seen in the media two major refugee flows: first people fleeing Ukraine after the Russian invasion and more recently the Palestinian people moving from the north of Gaza to the south.
Many would say undocumented migration is harmful to the country. I would say that undocumented migration is more harmful to the migrants. However, what is the reason why we seem to have tolerated it in our country for the past 40 years? Those who seem to oppose immigration cite the rule of law, whereby illegal migration by definition is presumed to be harmful. On the other hand, we see a labor market, especially in the agricultural and other sectors, that relies heavily on undocumented migration.
A very common question people are asking today about migrants is, “Why are these people not coming legally like my ancestors did?”
At the height of the great migration from Europe 109 years ago, the Church universally established a Sunday on which we can celebrate the phenomenon of migration. But is migration something to celebrate or is it something to understand and commemorate?
As I have written before, during the past year some vocal public officials and private organizations have joined with some media outlets in making false or misleading claims regarding the Church’s work with migrants and refugees.
When I started writing this monthly column, “Walking With Migrants,” I spoke about the difficulties that religious communities were having with the R-1 Nonimmigrant Religious Worker Visa.
A recent documentary by CNN featured some of its reporters making the trek through the dangerous Darien Gap — a jungle that separates Colombia from Panama.
A statement titled “The right not to have to migrate” was recently issued by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. But what does the right not to migrate actually mean?