In view of this week’s introduction of legislation for comprehensive immigration reform, it seems appropriate that on International Migrants Day, we take a moment to recognize the struggles, contributions, and other issues that face people on the move.
Many of us know someone who has moved or have even moved ourselves; whether from one state to another or to a completely different country. While reasons for moving are varied, the answers are familiar and at times common. We move to be closer to family, for work, and for better opportunities. However, this explanation is too simplistic to cover all those who uproot their lives in search of a better future.
In many of the debates and conversations around immigration, there is little time dedicated to the reasons immigrants move. They move to feed their families, to earn enough money so a child can go to school, to provide shelter to their loved ones; in short, they move because they have to.
Furthermore, migration is central to Catholic Social Teaching (CST). CST states that poverty, injustice, religious intolerance, and armed conflicts must be addressed as the root causes of migration; people have a right to migrate. Maria M. Odom, Executive Director of CLINIC recently stated:
There is an urgent need for the deep understanding of why those individuals are crossing our borders, why they’re willing to abandon their homeland, their culture, their families, often traveling a treacherous road, losing life and limb, more often than not arriving with nothing in their pockets.
In the U.S., the Catholic Church is increasingly becoming an immigrant church, which both challenges and enriches its members.
We should not scorn our foreign-born brothers and sisters who share our values, hopes, and dreams. Like us, they are seeking the best for their families and the ones they love. Unfortunately, our current immigration system ignores this. The system creates difficulties for individuals who are hardworking and committed; separates families; and dehumanizes those that flee persecution.
On International Migrants Day, let us be compassionate to the needs of people on the move and let us do our part to urge our elected officials and representatives to recognize the dignity and worth of all immigrants by supporting comprehensive immigration reform.