Bishops Urge Respect for Humanity of Migrants

Not "Delinquents," But "People Seeking a Better Way of Life"

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TIJUANA, Mexico, JUNE 26, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The bishops directly affected by immigration in the Americas are asking that the human dignity of migrants be respected.



This was one of the appeals that came from a meeting of episcopal conferences held in Tijuana. The conference, which ended June 19, gathered representatives of bishops' conferences from Mexico, the United States, Central America and the Caribbean.

Archbishop Christopher Pierre, apostolic nuncio in Mexico, recalled that during Benedict XVI's April visit to the United States, the Pope stressed the importance of the issue of migration. The nuncio recalled how the Holy Father mentioned that the Church and society have experienced changes due to the presence of Hispanic immigrants.

The Church cannot be indifferent to such facts "and must integrate them in her vision to respond to the challenges," noted Archbishop Pierre.

The papal representative appealed to the Catholic community to support migrants in various ways, acknowledging that the Church cannot have all the solutions.

During the meeting, Auxiliary Bishop Gustavo Rodríguez Vega of Monterrey, president of the Mexican episcopate's Commission for Social Pastoral Care, noted, "There have always been migrants and there always will be, but we are referring to a very concrete problem of recent times in which the violation of the human rights of migrants and their families has worsened."

He explained that these violations happen not only among Mexican migrants, but also among those from Central America and the Caribbean, "who seek to escape from their places of origin and find a better life by going to the United States."

"On this path, they meet with all sorts of dangers, but also abuse of their human rights. This causes us great concern," emphasized Bishop Rodriguez Vega.

At a press conference, Archbishop Rafael Romo Muñoz of Tijuana, an official of the Mexican episcopate's Section for Human Mobility, acknowledged that one of the main problems on the border with the United States is the violation of migrants' human rights.

But he called attention to another, parallel problem.

"Being on this border with the United States, much attention is paid to the treatment that Mexicans receive at the hands of North American authorities, but not so much attention is paid to Mexicans' treatment of migrants from Central America, the Caribbean and South America, who suffer terribly," he stressed.

"We would like our migrants to be regarded with greater humanitarian sensitivity," the archbishop affirmed. "We have already said many times that these are people seeking a better way of life, who in no way are delinquents. What impels them is the need to be able to provide a better way of life for their families."