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.
I have just returned from the US – Mexico border, on a journey of accompaniment sponsored by Maryknoll and hosted each year by the Columban Mission Center in El Paso, Texas. I have been to the border many times, but this time in particular was especially heart-breaking and painful. There we met immigrant parents and children who had been detained and cruelly separated from each other for two months; there we witnessed their joyful but often painful reunion at a refugee shelter; there we prepared and shared a meal with them at the Columban Mission Center.
*Capitol Dome close up; (c) John Brighenti, Flickr
On Friday, June 22, 2018, the Columban Mission Center received a letter from an immigrant mother separated from her son at the US/MX border. She is trying to request asylum and is currently in detention in El Paso, TX.
As Catholics, we proclaim that human life is sacred, and human dignity is the foundation of a moral vision for society. As Columbans, we stand committed to welcoming people of all religious backgrounds and oppose any policies that seek to discriminate against anyone.
Copyright © 2019 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.