Church in Mexico Looking Out for Migrants

Recalls That Location Does Not Affect Dignity

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ROME, SEPT. 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Church in Mexico is proclaiming that migrants’ human dignity must be respected — whether they are going from or coming to Mexico, or just passing through.

This Sunday, Mexico will observe the National Day of the Migrant, with the theme «St. Paul: Migrant and Apostle to the Gentiles,» promoted by the episcopate’s office on the Pastoral Care of Human Mobility (PCHM).

Sister Leticia Gutiérrez Guadarrama, PCHM’s executive secretary, discussed with ZENIT the complex phenomenon of migration and what the Church in Mexico has been doing to help people in transit.

One of their efforts is at the level of the national legislature. The PCHM is seeking an integral Mexican migratory law, which will respect «the human rights of migrant people who pass through, reside in and emigrate from our territory.»

The episcopal committee will present their concerns to leaders of the National Institute of Migration.

At that meeting they will suggest the creation of a forum in the Senate for migratory issues, which will seek to update legislation regarding «population, migration, statelessness, asylum and refuge, with emphasis on the human rights of migrant peoples»; adapting laws to recognize the vulnerability of migrant peoples; and calling for government efforts to reduce kidnappings of migrants passing through Mexico from South America, headed to the United States or Canada. The PCHM also wants the Senate to protect the right to «request asylum and/or the condition of refugee at the constitutional level or in a specific law.»

Sister Gutiérrez explained that one of the Church’s main priorities is protecting the dignity of those migrants trying to pass through Mexico.

«The Church in Mexico has some 50 house-shelters for migrants on the route most used by migrants in transit who pass through our territory and, without a doubt, the first mission to be undertaken with them is to feed, house, and give them rest,» she said. «Undoubtedly, the situation of the deported is also a concern for the Church, as people return without many alternatives for development.»

«Over the last few years the Church’s endeavor for the defense of human rights has been very specific, especially the topic of trans-migrants,» Sister Gutiérrez said. She pointed to a report released this year on migrant kidnapping, explaining this study was the result of a collaborative effort between the Church and state institutions.

«The Church has approached the [administration], especially the National Institute of Migration, to identify steps that take into account that migrants are persons; and steps that will allow us to continue to carry out our mission with the migrant population,» she said.

«The Church has played a very important role here,» Sister Gutiérrez affirmed, «but, although it proceeds with prudence, it has not ceased — through the endeavors of men and women pastoral ministers — to be prophet, pastor and mother to those living in a situation of vulnerability due to legal conditions that do not allow them to be regarded as persons, subject of rights and obligations.»

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