"I was a stranger and you made me welcome"
The Solidarity of the Church
The Church, "expert in humanity" (PP, 13), finds a further reason for being in solidarity with migrants in the fact that they, "in their variety of languages, races, cultures and customs, reminds her of her condition as a pilgrim people from all parts of the earth towards the definitive homeland" (John Paul II, 2.2.1999).
The Universal Declaration on Human Rights recognizes the right of every person "to leave any country, including his own and to return" (art. 13,2) without however saying anything about the right to enter another country different from one's own. The Church defends the human right to migrate (CCC, 2241), but she does not encourage its exercise. She knows, in fact, that migration has a very high cost, and that it is always the migrant that has to pay. On the other hand, she also recognizes that migration is at times the lesser evil.
In that case, the Church does everything she can to assure that the society of arrival considers migrants not as means of production but as persons endowed with the dignity of the children of God with inalienable rights. This premise is the source of that climate of acceptance and understanding that leads to a recognition of migration as a factor of economic, social and cultural development.
The threat to block migration
Migration has always moved within this scenario up to recent times. Migration today is practically an expression of the violation of the primary human right to live in one's own country. The origin of such a violation is found in wars, internal conflicts, the system of government, unequal distribution of economic resources, incoherent agricultural policy, irrational industrialization, widespread corruption. These situations are to be corrected through the promotion of balanced economic development, progrssively overcoming social inequalities, scrupulous respect for the human person and the proper functioning of democratic structures.
It is necessary to carry out urgent corrective measures to the present economic and financial system, dominated and manipulated by the industrialized countries. These very same countries are presently threatening to annul even the right to emigrate, which has always been considered an alternative to the impossibility of living in one's own country.
Globalization tends to abolish emigration from poor to industrialized countries. In fact, the transfer of enterprises to developing countries, where manpower and raw materials are available at a low price, permits producing goods at a low cost without having to bear the economic and social burden of the presence of migrants in their own territory. It also allows the sale of such products at the current prices in the international market.
The new system denies the experience of migration as a factor of development and retains it neither necessary nor useful for the process. The safety valve that migration has always represented for individuals and peoples tends to be blocked. Thus poor countries see the closure of the only channel left for them to enter the circuit of development of industrialized countries, that of emigration. The only immigrants admitted are technicians and professionals.
Development for all
The most evident consequence of such logic is an increase in the rate of illegal migration. This causes anxiety in destination countries, jeopardizing the context for integration. It is a dangerous involution, before which it is not improper to challenge the policy of the exclusion of immigrants, right at a time when the living conditions in developing countries are becoming more and more dramatic. Closing the doors to immigration without a commitment to remove its causes is a double injustice. Besides it is not ethically acceptable to reject the migrant worker as well as the product on which he invests his labor in his country of origin through exorbitant tariffs.
Poverty, which is the generator of migration, requires an urgent solution. Progress is such only when it is transformed into development for all persons. This means sharing of goods and a more sober lifestyle on the part of rich countries.
Migration improves peoples, as history shows. The mobility of peoples encourages a new and vaster push towards the unification of all nations. In the ancient Babel, pride destroyed the unity of the human family, but the Spirit of Pentecost is at work to gather together into one the scattered children of God (Jn 11:52). "The new heavens and the new earth" (Rev 21:1) are, first of all, the heart of people reunited in the name of our Father in heaven.