The topic of migration has become exceedingly fueled by politics, moral arguments, some bad actors, and extreme ideologies that lead to violence about if and what type of migrant should be welcomed. These tensions result in increased hesitation and fear for any migrant in need of services and refuge to question their humanity.
According to the International Migration Agency (IOM) a migrant reflects “the common lay understanding of a person who moves away from his or her place of usual residence, whether within a country or across an international border, temporarily or permanently, and for a variety of reasons.” This simple umbrella term can be easily applied to many if not most individuals within our immediate circles and or only a few generations back. There is more commonality in our journeys than what we often myopically judge.
Migration is not a recent phenomenon. Forced displacement due to conflict, violence, food supply or natural causes as well as voluntary migration of those seeking better economic opportunities has gone on for centuries throughout the globe. Legal frameworks that have codified nation states as sovereign states under international law, help delineate the relationship and obligations these nation states have as it relates to protecting and respecting each individual’s basic human rights.
Ideologies that look to homogenize a nation state based on constructed concepts of race, gender, age, or religion deny the dignity and humanity of every person and also go directly against the universal common good as noted in the Catholic Catechism (1911) in terms of welcoming migrants and refugees.
It is important to see the human behind each migrant, despite our differences, and the common humanity that we share. When the dignity of each and every person is prioritized, the walls of conflict will start to crumble.
Monthly column written for St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tampa, FL