Vatican City — According to the AP, Pope Francis is urging countries to be more welcoming by stopping collective expulsions of migrants, saying their rights for protections and dignity trumps national security concerns.
Pope Francis, who has made many politically pointed messages, gave his speech at the Catholic Church’s 2018 world refugee day which was celebrated on Jan. 14.
Pope Francis is demanding governments welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants, quoting Jesus’ message of love is rooted in welcoming the “rejected strangers of every age.”
The Pope’s message comes amid the mounting anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe and as much of the world witnesses some level of Islamic extremist attacks following mass migrant arrivals.
For humanitarian reasons, the Pope is demanding a simplified process with quicker temporary visas being issued, and that collective expulsions are unsuitable. He goes on to say, “The principle of ensuring each person’s dignity obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over a nations security.”
Refugees have been a priority for Pope Francis. He made his first trip to the island of Lampedusa in 2013. This island is considered ground zero in Europe’s migration crisis. He has spoken many times about migrants’ rights and wants countries to build “bridges not walls.” When visiting a Greek refugee camp in 2016, the pope brought a dozen Syrian refugees back to Rome with him.
The Pope is insisting in his new message that migrants should not only be protected by border guards, no matter their legal status, but that they must also be given basic services beyond health care. He would like them to receive access to consulates, the justice system, and survive financially. They should be able to open a bank account. Minors, especially those unaccompanied, will require far greater protection. They need to be guaranteed citizenship and given schooling. They should be put in foster programs, not detention centers.
The Pope goes on to say there is a need for policies that support family reunification and employment opportunities. We want them to integrate, so accelerated citizenship procedures are needed.
The leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League Party is opposed to changing Italy’s law to accelerate citizenship for children born in Italy to non-Italians, a policy that Francis rejects.
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