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Addressing Migrants’ Needs

Countries hosting migrants need to exercise compassion towards the foreigners they receive. It is important for the Government, the private sector and the Church to help migrants to blend into their new culture and environment.

In the 1930s, Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon offered asylum to Jews who were being persecuted by the Nazis during the Holocaust. At present, Afghans who have left their country after the Taliban took over, are adjusting to their new life abroad. 

The country hosting the migrants and the migrants themselves face challenges. The key to a smooth adaptation is respect. Both parties have rights and obligations. 

On the part of the countries receiving foreigners, they need to protect their own people from any possible threat in terms of security and provision of supplies and services. They are not obligated to receive foreigners to the point of endangering their own safety. 

At the same time, they are called to exercise compassion. Leviticus, 19:33-34 says, “When an alien resides with you in your land, do not mistreat such a one. You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God.” 

Our Catholic social teaching points towards the use of properties for the common good. 

The people migrating have the right to look for greener pastures that could help them improve their lives. They must also strive to live in harmony with the citizens of their new country, observe discipline, and practice responsible stewardship. 

It is important for the Government, the private sector and the Church to help migrants to blend into their new culture and environment. Parishes must encourage openness and Christian charity towards members from other lands. 

There are many areas that must be addressed in facing migration, such as understanding different norms, community building, work and school adjustment, fighting against discrimination and biases. For example, we recently had incidents in the U.S. of Asians being victimized by angry persons due to Covid. How could such incidents be avoided and dealt with?

In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis reminds us, “Our response to the arrival of migrating persons can be summarized by four words: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. For ‘it is not a case of implementing welfare programmes from the top down, but rather of undertaking a journey together, through these four actions, in order to build cities and countries that, while preserving their respective cultural and religious identity, are open to differences and know how to promote them in the spirit of human fraternity.’” (n. 129) 

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