4 Ways You Can Defend Migrants in 2018
The New Year is a time for resolutions - another chance to help bring about a more just and peaceful world. This week, we invite you to consider how you can use your time and talents to defend migrants in 2018. To help, we suggest 4 things that you can start doing today that'll make a huge difference.
We pray for many reasons: we pray to strengthen our relationship with God; we pray in community to strengthen our relationship with each other; and we pray for ourselves so that our hearts will be open to the presence of God in others.
God is especially present today in the lives of migrants. Pray then for those who are migrating, particularly because they were forced from their homes or separated from their families because of threats of violence, persecution, economic instability, or climate change. Pray both for those who welcome them and those who are hostile to them, that they remember that all people are all created in God’s image and share an inalienable dignity that deserves respect.
To enhance your prayer, we invite you to download this “Collected Book of Prayers for Migrants.”
The issue of ‘immigration’ is often complex and, unfortunately, the current national conversation around migration can make it more difficult to gain an accurate understanding. This is why educating yourself is incredibly important. Take some time to review both the church’s teachings on migration and the ‘state of play’ of immigration policy. You don’t need to be an expert! Below are some helpful resources, no matter your level of familiarity.
- Visit the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s website for easy-to-read backgrounders on key immigration issues.
- For a more in-depth exploration of certain subtopics, visit the "Justice for Immigrants" educational webpage.
- Read "Sorrow and Mourning Flee Away" by Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso. It is a great introduction to Catholic teaching on immmigration.
- One of the most important ways to understand the migrant experience is to listen to migrants’ own stories. Many brave and generous migrants have publicly shared their story, like this interview published by the Columban Center. Hearing and honoring the stories of migrants is crucial.
In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus shows us what it means to be a good neighbor. In our own day, his parable is especially important since the Samaritan and the Jewish man were supposedly enemies, their peoples divided by artificial walls of hostility and fear. We can break down these artificial walls by reaching out, as the Good Samaritan did, to help our migrant sisters and brothers.
There are many ways you can accompany migrants during their journey. Maybe there is an “English as a second language” (ESL) tutoring center you can volunteer with; perhaps you or your parish can visit the Columban Mission Center on the US/Mexico border for a border immersion experience; perhaps you or your parish can financially sponsor a migrant family; or you can consider visiting migrants in detention centers.
Get in contact with your local Catholic Charities to check out their volunteer options. Additionally, you can visit our website for more information on how to organize a trip to the Columban Mission Center in El Paso, TX.
The laws and the policies that we put into place often make it insurmountably difficult for migrants to pursue their dreams, provide for their families, and live free from threats of violence and poverty. Increasingly, our laws and policies are criminalizing migration, making it more difficult to obtain legal status, and tearing families apart.
In order to ensure that our nation’s laws and policies reflect our faith’s call to honor human dignity and the sanctity of the family, we ask you to raise your voice. A critical way to do this is to be in regular contact with your elected officials. You have many tools at your disposal:
- Write an email or letter to your officials.
- Call their office.
- Visit their offices, either in your state or if you visit Washington, D.C.
- Message them on social media.
- Even better, get all your friends and everyone in your family and parish to do this as well.
Right now, Catholic organizations across the country are working to get our elected officials to pass robust protections for Dreamers, including the ability to work, attend school, and access citizenship. Write to your Members of Congress now, urging them to pass these protections without unnecessary enforcement measures attached.
Weekly Reflections on Justice & Columban Spirituality are written by the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach staff, volunteers, interns, and visiting Columban Missionaries. We hope these reflections help to guide you on your own spiritual journey working toward justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.