While immigration laws and procedures can be quite a controversial and delicate topic to tackle, denying a person’s human rights and freedom of movement, directly compromises a person’s humanity and dignity. According to the UN in 2020 approximately 281 million people worldwide, lived outside their country of origin.
While pull factors like work, study abroad or family ties are behind a migrant’s journey, push factors from their country of origin such as fleeing from violence, political unrest, economic crisis, and climate change are also part of their reality. Migrants face vulnerabilities in countries of transit or countries of arrival such as lack of resources, support network, fluency in local language or discriminatory practices. Moreover, migrants often face discriminatory practices such as racism, xenophobia and related intolerance which exposes them to abuse such as violence, exploitation, and human trafficking.
As the USCCB reminds us there is a “misconception that immigrants are criminals and a threat to our unity, security and well-being” often overshadowing our need to respect an individual’s human dignity. Catholics, for example, have responded with a high call to maintain human dignity at the center of enacting immigration laws. Corporations also have a high social responsibility to ensure their migrant labor contracts and worker practices are in line with respecting the dignity of the person and mitigate labor trafficking dangers.
We all have a story, which more than likely includes movement for one reason or another. As we journey through life, let’s remember to uphold the dignity of every person we encounter.
Monthly column written for St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tampa, FL