Pope Francis did the obvious, pastoral thing today when he called for governments to assure the safety of unaccompanied child migrants. He specifically asked the Mexican government to step up in this area.
He also made the observation that migration is a component of globalization, and that it is happening worldwide, however governments continue to respond to it as if it was a localized problem. I had not of America’s immigration situation in the context of globalization. I have certainly considered it in terms of American factories and corporations, operating south of the border. I have also given thought to the effects NAFTA has had in exacerbating this situation.
But I had not considered that the obvious fact that this is happening all over the world and is, in fact, a single phenomena with particular causes that apply across the hemispheres. I am going to think more about this, and will probably write more about it in time.
Pope Francis also called for development in the countries from which these children are coming. I have believed for a long time that if we want to fix our immigration problem, we need to stop exploiting our neighbors to the South and find ways to aid their development.
Meanwhile, it’s enough that our wise and wonderfully pastoral pope has given us a direction to follow as Christians. Whatever else we do, however we decide to deal with this situation in terms in the broader scope, these are children. We need to remember that and behave accordingly.
From Vatican Radio:
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to the “Mexico/Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development”, urging protection for tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who are migrating North from Central America and Mexico in increasing numbers.
The Holy Father’s letter was read to conference participants by Apostolic Nuncio Christophe Pierre. The conference was also attended by the Vatican’s secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin. In his message Pope Francis writes that globalization has rendered migration a “hallmark” of society today.
Despite this it is still seen as an emergency or as a circumstantial phenomenon.
Above all, the Pope’s thoughts go to “the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence”. He says, “this is a category of migrants …who cross the border with the United States under extreme conditions and in pursuit of a hope that in most cases turns out to be vain”.
He notes that the numbers of children undertaking this hazardous journey “are increasing day by day”. Pope Francis calls for “the international community to pay attention to this challenge” and for measures to be taken by the countries involved. These include policies to inform the public of the dangers of the trip north and to promote development of the migrants’ countries of origin.
US authorities have detained some 57,000 unaccompanied minors since October, twice the number from the same period a year ago. Mexican authorities have picked up 8,000 child migrants in the first five months of the year, and more than half of them were traveling by themselves.