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In his landmark encyclical Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope John XXIII expands the right to migrate as well as the right to not have to migrate: "Every human being has the right to freedom of movement and of residence within the confines of his own country; and, when there are just reasons for it, the right to emigrate to other countries and take up residence there." Pope John XXIII placed limits on immigration, however, when there are "just reasons for it." Nevertheless, he stressed the obligation of sovereign states to promote the universal good where possible, including an obligation to accommodate migration flows. For more powerful nations, a stronger obligation exists.

31. The Church also has recognized the plight of refugees and asylum seekers who flee persecution. In his encyclical letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Pope John Paul II refers to the world's refugee crisis as "the festering of a wound." In his 1990 Lenten message, Pope John Paul II lists the rights of refugees, including the right to be reunited with their families and the right to a dignified occupation and just wage. The right to asylum must never be denied when people's lives are truly threatened in their homeland.

32. Pope John Paul II also addresses the more controversial topic of undocumented migration and the undocumented migrant. In his 1995 message for World Migration Day, he notes that such migrants are used by developed nations as a source of labor. Ultimately, the pope says, elimination of global underdevelopment is the antidote to illegal immigration. Ecclesia in America, which focuses on the Church in North and South America, reiterates the rights of migrants and their families and the respect for human dignity "even in cases of non-legal immigration."

33. Both of our episcopal conferences have echoed the rich tradition of church teachings with regard to migration. Five principles emerge from such teachings, which guide the Church's view on migration issues.

I. Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland.
34. All persons have the right to find in their own countries the economic, political, and social opportunities to live in dignity and achieve a full life through the use of their God-given gifts. In this context, work that provides a just, living wage is a basic human need.

II. Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families.
35. The Church recognizes that all the goods of the earth belong to all people. When persons cannot find employment in their country of origin to support themselves and their families, they have a right to find work elsewhere in order to survive. Sovereign nations should provide ways to accommodate this right.

III. Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders.
36. The Church recognizes the right of sovereign nations to control their territories but rejects such control when it is exerted merely for the purpose of acquiring additional wealth. More powerful economic nations, which have the ability to protect and feed their residents, have a stronger obligation to accommodate migration flows.

IV. Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection.
37. Those who flee wars and persecution should be protected by the global community. This requires, at a minimum, that migrants have a right to claim refugee status without incarceration and to have their claims fully considered by a competent authority.

V. The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected.
38. Regardless of their legal status, migrants, like all persons, possess inherent human dignity that should be respected. Often they are subject to punitive laws and harsh treatment from enforcement officers from both receiving and transit countries. Government policies that respect the basic human rights of the undocumented are necessary.

39. The Church recognizes the right of a sovereign state to control its borders in furtherance of the common good. It also recognizes the right of human persons to migrate so that they can realize their God-given rights. These teachings complement each other. While the sovereign state may impose reasonable limits on immigration, the common good is not served when the basic human rights of the individual are violated. In the current condition of the world, in which global poverty and persecution are rampant, the presumption is that persons must migrate in order to support and protect themselves and that nations who are able to receive them should do so whenever possible. It is through this lens that we assess the current migration reality between the United States and Mexico.

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l. We call for stiffer, more appropriate policy, structure and laws to deal with traffickers, and also demand that procedures to deport victims before the traffickers are prosecuted must be changed to allow the victims to testify against the traffickers, which plays a major role in bringing these cases to justice and helping stem the tide of this heinous crime. The victims of trafficking should have the option of permanent residence in the U.S. or return to their home countries, according to their own choice.

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h. We oppose the militarization of our borders, (mis)using the National Guard as border police, and building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. This will further intensify the human rights disaster our immigration policy has become, as well as seriously harm border ecosystems. We demand an immediate end to policies designed to force undocumented border-crossers into areas where conditions dramatically increase the risk of permanent injury or death, destruction of fragile environments, and the cutting off of corridors needed by wildlife for migration within their habitat. For these reasons we specifically oppose the walling off of both traditional urban crossing areas and of wilderness areas. We also call for the immediate dismantling of the border wall. We mourn the death of those thousands of men, women and children who have died trying to cross this border, where a couple of decades ago such deaths were virtually unheard of.

The current immigration policy is based on a number of principles which include the admission of the immigrants with special skills important in building of the U.S. economy, promoting diversity, protection of refugees and finally fostering the reunification of the families (Bush, McLarty, & Alden, 2009).
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We will promote best practices among local law enforcement, in terms of how they collaboratewith federal authorities, to ensure that they maintain and build trust between local lawenforcement and the communities they serve. We will also vigorously oversee any programs putin place, to make sure that there are no abuses and no arbitrary deportation programs. We willestablish an affirmative process for workers to report labor violations and to request deferredaction. We will work to ensure that all Americans—regardless of immigration status—haveaccess to quality health care. That means expanding community health centers, allowing allfamilies to buy into the Affordable Care Act exchanges, supporting states that open up theirpublic health insurance programs to all persons, and finally enacting comprehensive immigrationreform. And we will expand opportunities for DREAMers to serve in the military and to thenreceive expedited pathways to citizenship.

Building a wall, repealing birthright citizenship, mass deportation, tracking immigrants like Fedex packages, and admonishing immigrants to learn English are not policy solutions. They are reactions to the cultural and demographic changes that immigration has brought to the U.S.

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Introduction

1. As we begin the third millennium, we give thanks to God the Father for the many blessings of creation, and to our Lord Jesus Christ for the gift of salvation. We raise our prayer to the Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us in carrying out all that the Lord has commanded us. In discerning the signs of the times, we note the greatly increased migration among the peoples of the Americas, and we see in this but one manifestation of a worldwide phenomenon–often called globalization–which brings with it great promises along with multiple challenges.

2. We speak as two episcopal conferences but as one Church, united in the view that migration between our two nations is necessary and beneficial. At the same time, some aspects of the migrant experience are far from the vision of the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed: many persons who seek to migrate are suffering, and, in some cases, tragically dying; human rights are abused; families are kept apart; and racist and xenophobic attitudes remain.

3. On January 23, 1999, at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope John Paul II presented his apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America, which resulted from the Synod of Bishops of America. In the spirit of ecclesial solidarity begun in that synod and promoted in Ecclesia in America, and aware of the migration reality our two nations live, we the bishops of Mexico and the United States seek to awaken our peoples to the mysterious presence of the crucified and risen Lord in the person of the migrant and to renew in them the values of the Kingdom of God that he proclaimed.

4. As pastors to more than ninety million Mexican Catholics and sixty-five million U.S. Catholics, we witness the human consequences of migration in the life of society every day. We witness the vulnerability of our people involved in all sides of the migration phenomenon, including families devastated by the loss of loved ones who have undertaken the migration journey and children left alone when parents are removed from them. We observe the struggles of landowners and enforcement personnel who seek to preserve the common good without violating the dignity of the migrant. And we share in the concern of religious and social service providers who, without violating civil law, attempt to respond to the migrant knocking at the door.

5. Migrants and immigrants are in our parishes and in our communities. In both our countries, we see much injustice and violence against them and much suffering and despair among them because civil and church structures are still inadequate to accommodate their basic needs.

6. We judge ourselves as a community of faith by the way we treat the most vulnerable among us. The treatment of migrants challenges the consciences of elected officials, policymakers, enforcement officers, residents of border communities, and providers of legal aid and social services, many of whom share our Catholic faith.

7. In preparing this statement we have spoken with migrants, public officials, enforcement officers, social justice activists, pastors, parishioners, and community leaders in both the United States and Mexico as part of a process that lasted two years. Our dialogue has revealed a common desire for a more orderly system that accommodates the reality of migration and promotes just application of civil law. We seek to measure the interests of all parties in the migration phenomenon against the guidelines of Catholic social teaching and to offer a moral framework for embracing, not rejecting, the reality of migration between our two nations. We invite Catholics and persons of good will in both nations to exercise their faith and to use their resources and gifts to truly welcome the stranger among us (cf. Mt 25:35).

8. In recent years, signs of hope have developed in the migration phenomenon in both Mexico and the United States: a growing consciousness of migrants as bearers of faith and culture; an outpouring of hospitality and social services, including migrant shelters; a growing network of advocates for migrants' and immigrants' rights; a more organized effort at welcome and intercultural communion; a greater development of a social conscience; and greater recognition by both governments of the importance of the issue of migration. Each of our episcopal conferences has spoken with great urgency to encourage these signs of hope. We reiterate our appreciation for and our encouragement of manifestations of commitment to solidarity according to the vision inspired by Ecclesia in America (EA).

9. We speak to the migrants who are forced to leave their lands to provide for their families or to escape persecution. We stand in solidarity with you. We commit ourselves to your pastoral care and to work toward changes in church and societal structures that impede your exercising your dignity and living as children of God.

10. We speak to public officials in both nations, from those who hold the highest offices to those who encounter the migrant on a daily basis. We thank our nations' presidents for the dialogue they have begun in an effort to humanize the migration phenomenon.

11. We speak to government personnel of both countries who enforce, implement, and execute the immigration laws.

12. Finally, we speak to the peoples of the United States and Mexico. Our two nations are more interdependent than ever before in our history, sharing cultural and social values, common interests, and hopes for the future. Our nations have a singular opportunity to act as true neighbors and to work together to build a more just and generous immigration system.

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The Church must, therefore, welcome all persons regardless of race, culture, language, and nation with joy, charity, and hope. It must do so with special care for those who find themselves–regardless of motive–in situations of poverty, marginalization, and exclusion.

104. We ask our presidents to continue negotiations on migration issues to achieve a system of migration between the two countries that is more generous, just, and humane. We call for legislatures of our two countries to effect a conscientious revision of the immigration laws and to establish a binational system that accepts migration flows, guaranteeing the dignity and human rights of the migrant. We ask public officials who are in charge of formulating, implementing, and executing immigration laws to reexamine national and local policies toward the migrant and to use their leadership positions to erase misconceptions about migration. We ask adjudicators who process immigrants' legal claims to create a welcoming atmosphere that does not threaten their confidence or security. We encourage the media to support and promote a genuine attitude of welcoming toward migrants and immigrants.

105. We, the Catholic bishops of the United States and Mexico, pledge ourselves to defend the migrant. We also pledge to support the creation of the necessary conditions so that all may enjoy the fruit of their work and life in their homeland, if they so wish.

106. We stand in solidarity with you, our migrant brothers and sisters, and we will continue to advocate on your behalf for just and fair migration policies. We commit ourselves to animate communities of Christ's disciples on both sides of the border to accompany you on your journey so that yours will truly be a journey of hope, not of despair, and so that, at the point of arrival, you will experience that you are strangers no longer and instead members of God's household. We pray that, wherever you go, you will always be conscious of your dignity as human beings and of your call to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ, who came that we "might have life and have it more abundantly" (Jn 10:10). We invite you who are forced to emigrate to maintain contact with your homes and, especially, to maintain fidelity to your families so that you treasure your cultural values and the gift of faith and so that you bring these treasures to whatever place you go.

107. The appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego revealed the compassionate presence of God reaching out to Mary to be in solidarity with and to give hope to a suffering people. In the same spirit, we, the Catholic bishops of the United States of Mexico and the United States of America, have written this letter to give hope to suffering migrants. We pray that you will experience the same hope that inspired St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans: