Migration is a subject that should be of great concern to all of us and yet is often riddled with controversy. According to the United Nations, approximately 3.6% of the world’s population (roughly over 281 million people), currently lives outside their country of origin. Although some of us might be able to choose to relocate and embark on great adventures, many others are forced to flee their home in search of a better life due to poverty, war, political tensions, or violence. Migrants will go to great lengths, sometimes risking their lives, to find a place where they can live with dignity and provide a better future for themselves and their family. They face logistical challenges along their journey with discriminatory laws and attitudes that preclude them from finding safe refuge.
While countries must carefully manage these new incoming relationships, there is also a responsibility to uphold the dignity of every person and to respect their inherent human rights. Migrants are often denied asylum or due process and forced to live in deplorable conditions while facing discriminatory attitudes including classism, racism and xenophobia, furthering their vulnerabilities into poverty violence, abuse and exploitation.
How does this apply to each of us? In terms of action, how do we view someone who is a migrant? Do we know their journey? Do we treat them with respect and acknowledge their presence as an equal human being? Are our actions consistent with the Church’s social teaching? It can be quite uncomfortable to reflect upon these concepts, yet a necessary examination of conscience as we strive to live out values and faith that uphold the dignity of every human being.
Monthly column written for St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tampa, FL