WASHINGTON (October 4, 2002) -- An unprecedented joint pastoral statement on migration by the Mexican and U.S. bishops will come before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for a vote at their semi-annual meeting here November 11 to November 14.
Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope marks the first time the USCCB has worked jointly with another national episcopal conference to issue a pastoral statement. Members of the USCCB Committee on Migration and the Mexican bishops' Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care for People on the Move produced the document after more than a year of meetings and discussions. The full membership of the Mexican bishops' conference is set to vote on the statement during their annual meeting, November 12-15.
The statement reviews migration in light of Catholic social teaching, including principles such as:
- persons have the right to find economic, political, and social opportunities in their homeland;
- persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families;
- sovereign nations have the right to control their borders;
- refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection by the global community;
- the human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected.
For example, it suggests that a more concerted effort is needed in preparing priests, religious, and lay leaders to accompany migrants on their travels and to provide support on arrival. It also suggests a more coordinated exchange of priests between Mexican and U.S. dioceses to aid in the transition for migrants.
The statement enumerates a number of public policy challenges and offers responses drawn from the bishops' experiences. They recommend that policy makers address the following:
- the root causes of migration such as the need for Mexico to implement sustainable economic development policies, and the initiation of joint border development projects;
- expanding opportunities for legal immigration;
- humane border enforcement policies in both Mexico and the United States; and
- protection of human rights.
The USCCB's November meeting opens Monday, November 11 and continues through Thursday, November 14. Media seeking credentials can find information at www.usccb.org . Media credential applications should be submitted by October 28.