National Migration Week Focuses on Migrant and Refugee Children
The Catholic Church in the United States celebrates National Migration Week from Jan. 3-9. With the theme “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice,” the focus this year is on migrant and refugee children, following the lead of the Pope Benedict XVI, who has chosen the theme “Minor Migrants and Refugees” for the 2010 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
“Children are an exceptionally vulnerable population. They are easily taken advantage of, exploited and abused. This is particularly true when they are undocumented and unaccompanied in a foreign country and, all too often, with nobody to turn to for help,” said Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration.
The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, a member of the USCCB Committee on Migration, noted in a recent statement, “Reform engenders much passion among our citizens. There are no simple solutions to this issue, but it is clear to the U. S. Bishops that our present system is not working and we must find a way to reform it so that we may respond realistically to the labor demands of our nation, support the right of people to immigrate, and protect the human dignity of very person.”
In his letter noting the observance of National Migration Week, Bishop Burbidge wrote, “As Catholics, we are dedicated to protecting and defending the gift of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. This dedication naturally extends to assisting children who are vulnerable to oppression and injustice.”
In 2003, the Bishops of the U.S. and of Mexico issued a pastoral letter entitled Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, which called for humane and comprehensive reform of both U.S. and Mexican immigration laws. Since then, the Catholic Church has been very involved in this issue and consistently supported passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
In 2005, the U.S. Bishops launched the Justice for Immigrants Campaign to educate the public about Church teaching on migration and immigrants and to create political will for positive immigration reform.
- Read Bishop Burbidge’s National Migration Week letter: English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)