Pope Francis Calls on Migrants to Flood the US: 'Forget National Security'
Head of Catholic Church says migrant's needs are 'more important' than security concerns
Pope Francis has called on migrants to flood the United States and other Western nations whilst urging world leaders to "forget about national security" concerns as immigrant's needs are "more important" than borders.
The head of the Catholic Church is calling on political leaders to drop their country's current screening and deportation policies and give precedence to migrant's requirements over the safety of their legal citizens.
The pope has also demanded an end to detention centers for those who cross the border illegally, and for refugees to instead be offered long-term homes to show "solidity" and "equality."
According to Reuters, his challenge to politicians, made in a comprehensive position paper on migrants and refugees, again appeared to put him at odds with the restrictive policies of a number of governments dealing with growing popular anti-immigrant sentiment.
“Solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return,” he said in a message ahead of the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
Calling for “broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally,” he said the human rights and dignity of all migrants had to be respected regardless of their legal status.
“The principle of the centrality of the human person ... obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security,” he said.
This appeared to be a reference to fears voiced in many European countries that refugees inflows could lead to security problems in their host countries.
He said it was necessary “to ensure that agents in charge of border control are properly trained.”
He called for “alternative solutions to detention” for illegal immigrants and said, “collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees are not suitable solutions.”
Francis said migrants should be seen as “a true resource for the communities that welcome them” and be given freedom of movement, access to means of communication, access to justice and everyday rights such as opening a bank account.
Francis, an Argentine who has made the defense of migrants a major plank of his papacy, has criticized anti-immigrant stands by national leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump.
Last year, Francis condemned then-candidate Trump’s intention to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
Migrant children deserved particular protection, the pope said.
They “must be spared any form of detention related to migratory status,” guaranteed access to primary and secondary education and have the right to remain when they come of age.
Francis’s message immediately drew the ire of the right-wing Northern League party in Italy because it implicitly supported a controversial law proposal that would grant citizenship to children who are born in Italy of immigrant parents.
“The universal right to a nationality should be recognized and duly certified for all children at birth,” the pope said.
Northern League leader Matteo Salvini responded:
“If he wants to apply it in his state, the Vatican, he can go right ahead.”
World leaders are due to committing their countries to two global compacts, one on refugees and the other on migrants, by the end of 2018 under the auspices of the United Nations.