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.
“The administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program left hundreds of thousands of families and young adults in incredibly vulnerable and uncertain situations. Now with Congress' inaction, Dreamers and their families must face the holidays without the reprieve of permanent protections.”
"We know intimately the struggles that migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers around the world face, and we are committed to working for national and global policies that defend and protect their rights. For that reason, we support the process leading to a Global Compact on Migration and a Global Compact on Refugees, and express our deep concern that the U.S. government has withdrawn from that important international process. It is our hope that the United States will reverse its decision and reenter the discussions in the spirit of welcoming the stranger and collaborating globally for the good of all vulnerable people on the move."
As the persecution of the Muslim minority in Rakhine State in Myanmar/Burma reaches a feverish pitch and forces thousands to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, Columban Superior General, Fr Kevin O’Neill, sends a message of solidarity saying: “We reject persecution of any community regardless of religion, race, or ethnic identity. We urge an end to the violence and violation of human rights of the Rohingya people and hope for their peaceful return to their homes in the Rakhine State of Myanmar/Burma.”
Copyright © 2019 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.