Holy See Extols Respect for Immigrants' Rights

Archbishop Addresses Migration Organization

| 1252 hits

GENEVA, DEC. 7, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Migrants who know their rights and have them respected can be a positive force for their new countries, as well as their nations of origin, says the Holy See.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, said this Nov. 29 when he addressed the 94th Council Session of the International Organization of Migration. The session was held Nov. 27-30 in Geneva.

Archbishop Tomasi, speaking in English, said: "Estimates now give more than 200 million persons in the world living and working in countries different than the one in which they were born or were citizens and the 90 million workers among them are almost 3% of the 3 billion strong labor force.

"Migrant workers, skilled and unskilled, have taken central place in many current debates."

"This type of migration," he continued, "is looked at as a positive force for development of countries of origin, especially through the billions of dollars in remittances sent home by the migrants -- $167 billion sent to developing countries in 2005 -- as well for the economy of receiving countries."

"In fact, for a growing number of countries, immigrants have become a necessity to compensate for the dwindling work force and for their demographic deficit," Archbishop Tomasi explained. "Fairness in recognizing the contribution immigrants make can serve as a good base for their integration."

Human priority

However, the 67-year-old prelate added, "two important dimensions of contemporary migrations are not adequately discussed and paid attention to in the formulation of policies: the victims of migration flows and the priority that persons have over the economy.

"Present political trends appear clear and slanted in the direction of responding to the more emotional and vocal demands of public opinion for control and integration.

"In the long run, however, a fair and effective solution will come from a comprehensive approach that embraces all policy components: the rights of the state and of the receiving community, of the migrants, and of the international common good."

"In a parallel way," Archbishop Tomasi emphasized, "the social teaching of the Catholic Church, and in fact that of all religious traditions, looks at migrants as human beings in the first place and then as citizens or guests, or as economic and cultural agents."

"Education can play a major role," concluded the archbishop. "Migrants, aware of their rights, can be more secure in offering their services and talents and the receiving community, well informed and respectful of these rights, will feel freer in extending its solidarity in order to build together a common future."