BY JORGE PALACIOS, JR. | September 23, 2022
Last week Florida governor Ron DeSantis sent a plane full of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. This pattern of elected officials transporting migrants as a political statement about the Biden administration’s immigration policy is one that has gone on now for months. Many have raised their voices to denounce these actions, including several bishops, as well as the editorial staffs of both America magazine and the National Catholic Reporter. Yet, cities like Washington D.C, New York, Chicago, and now Martha’s Vineyard have had to scramble to properly receive these migrants who, in many cases, were not prepared for, or possibly even aware of, where they were being sent.
The Ignatian Solidarity Network condemns this blatant disrespect for human dignity. Catholic Social Teaching calls us to see the inherent dignity in all human beings, and to welcome the migrant into our midst. Furthermore, Catholic Social Teaching calls us to see people not as a means to an end, but an end in and of themselves. As the landmark 2003 document from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and The Mexican Episcopal Conference, Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, says, “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.”
The treatment of migrants and refugees at the southern border of the U.S. and the ways in which we as a country continue to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate these neighbors of ours into our society, we believe, is the metric by which we will be judged. This is the reason, in the context of National Migration Week (September 19-25) and the upcoming World Day of Migrants and Refugees (September 25), that it is important to uphold the work of people and institutions which are working to center the experiences of migrants and refugees to promote a more just migration system.
The Kino Border Initiative will be hosting a March for Migrant Dignity on September 26, which will be livestreamed on YouTube at 2PM EST/11AM GMT via ISN’s YouTube channel. The goal of this march is to lift up three obstacles to dignified migration: the continued implementation of Title 42, the abuses experienced by migrants at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol agents, and the lack of adequate healthcare in Nogales, Sonora for migrants. The march has been organized by KBI and the Revolucionarios, a group of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border who are organizing and calling for change in the treatment of migrants.
We hope that the work of our partners, such as the Kino Border Initiative, as well as many other groups and organizations will help people of good will understand the reality that migrants are facing, and will lead to a conversion of hearts and minds. We call on all people, including our elected officials, to work together in building the kingdom of God by welcoming, protecting, promoting, and integrating migrants. We especially call on leaders to denounce the rising tide of hatred and xenophobia which urges people to dehumanize their neighbors, seeing our current situation not as a humanitarian crisis but as an “invasion” of this country. We especially call on public leaders to end the use of migrants as human pawns in a public-political game, degrading them and ignoring their human dignity.
Jorge Palacios Jr. has served as the Migration Coordinator for Youth Engagement for the Ignatian Solidarity Network since 2022. He grew up on a cattle farm in northern Colorado and attended Regis Jesuit High School, and then later Regis University in Denver, Colorado. He has worked as a crew leader on chainsaw crews local youth corps, as a kindergarten paraprofessional, and most recently served as liturgist and music director at Annunciation Catholic Church in Denver. Jorge currently lives in Golden, Colorado.