A perfect storm can wipe out fishing, agriculture, and logging, which are the only livelihoods for many. Without a home or a livelihood, vulnerable people are forced to migrate, either internally or externally. Many end up living in city slums or displaced persons’ camps where the standard of living push them deeper into poverty and into health risks.
We are called to welcome the stranger.
Columban missionaries serve migrants and refugees in a dozen countries throughout Asia Pacific and the Americas, as well as on the U.S. – Mexico border. Keeping in mind the Gospel mandate and our Catholic Social Teaching, we strive to “welcome the stranger” and to protect and promote the rights of migrants and refugees everywhere.
As Columbans, we believe we are called to both serve the needs of migrants and to address the root causes of migration.
We advocate for action on root causes of migration.
In 2015, the number of migrants internationally reached 244 million, including 20 million refugees (UN Migration). These include economic migrants compelled to move to feed their families, refugees and internally displaced persons fleeing persecution and environmental crises, and victims of human trafficking.
We recognize the right to migrate in order to seek both safety and a higher quality of life, but often global economic policies, environmental crises, and conflicts result in grave inequalities and unstable conditions forcing people to move. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has recognized, “all peoples have the right to conditions worthy of human life and, if these conditions are not present, the right to migrate.”
We advocate for compassionate immigration reform.
Columbans respond to the harsh realities that migrants face, including separation from their families and imprisonment in detention centers and jails. Compassionate immigration reform is necessary to ensure family unity, protect the rights and dignity of migrants, and heal our communities.
On the U.S. – Mexico Border, countless migrants have risked death and deportation to cross into the U.S. in order to flee the violence and instability in their home countries. In the midst of a destructive militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, Columbans call for a more compassionate border policy that affirms the dignity of migrants and celebrates the vibrancy and importance of border communities which continue to welcome our migrant brothers and sisters.
We advocate for reforms to stop human trafficking.
Migrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. Victims of human trafficking often leave their home countries to seek better economic conditions to support their families. This too can lead to exploitation of migrants, putting them in danger of death or serious injury, sexual abuse, and low wages. As God calls us to respect the dignity of every human life, we must continue to support policies that represent the interests of migrant workers and refugees.
- Columban Statement on Migration
- Learn about Columban Border Awareness trips
- Current Statements and Press Releases
Migration & Refugees
by Becca Eastwood, Advocacy Coordinator, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Note: This piece originally appeared on NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice's blog.
Although I have lived in Washington, DC for the past four years and have grown and learned so much in our nation’s capital, I will always be a proud Iowan.
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.
As Catholics and people of faith, we unite around principles of compassion, stewardship, and justice. In his address to Congress, Pope Francis reminded lawmakers of their fundamental responsibility: “Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”
December 18, 2017
Never before in human history have so many people been uprooted and displaced from their homes and forced to seek shelter. On International Migrants Day, the United Nations reminds the nations of the world of their responsibility to protect the safety, dignity, and fundamental freedoms of all migrants and refugees.