January 4-10, 2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I invite you to participate in the 2009 National Migration Week. This year’s theme—Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice—reminds us of our obligation to bring hope to the hopeless and to seek justice for those who are easily exploited. For many migrant communities, injustice and hardship are too commonplace an experience. Given the often marginal and vulnerable status of migrants, it is important that communities everywhere treat migrants justly and provide a welcoming presence to all people on the move.
The World Refugee Survey 2008 reports that there are more than fourteen million refugees worldwide. Many are trapped in isolated camps indefinitely and forced into circumstances that tax hope. We, as a nation, must open our arms to refugee communities and, in doing so, provide them the opportunity to flourish in their new home.
The Pew Hispanic Forum estimates that about 12 million undocumented immigrants currently work and live in the United States. The great majority come here to reunite with loved ones or to find work that will help them to support those they leave behind. Sadly, their undocumented status places them on the margins of society and leaves them vulnerable to those who wish them harm. For this reason, we bishops have actively sought the passage of comprehensive immigration reform so that these immigrants and their families can become active participants in American society.
Hundreds of thousands of innocent victims are ensnared in the evil of human trafficking every year. Many are forced into slave labor or become victims of sexual exploitation, both of which are forms of modern day slavery. It is imperative that we all do what we can to end this evil and provide a renewed sense of hope to the victims of this horrific human rights abuse.
We hope that you will use the materials enclosed in this National Migration Week packet as a resource for further reflection on these very important issues. A wide variety of resources, both in English and Spanish, is available through the USCCB Publishing Office to assist you in this endeavor. Contact them at 1-800-235-8722 or visit their web site at www.usccbpublishing.org and browse Migration and Refugee Services materials.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Most Reverend John C. Wester
Bishop of Salt Lake City
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration