WelCom April 2023
As the UK government pushes controversial legislation banning the settlement of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is calling on policymakers ‘to recognise migrants and refugees as people’.
In a new document called Love the Stranger, the bishops offer a list of 24 principles to guide immigration policy, based on ‘the innate worth of each human person’.
The document is being released just days after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak introduced the Illegal Migration Bill, which would remove migrants who cross the Channel in small boats from the country and ban them from entering the UK in the future.
‘Our starting point as a society must be to recognise migrants and refugees as people. We need to understand their stories, their reasons for leaving their homelands and hopes for building a future here,’ said Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees for the bishops’ conference.
‘We should never view people arriving from elsewhere as a political problem to be solved, but rather as brothers and sisters who we have a responsibility towards, and who greatly enrich our communities,’ he said.
Love the Stranger emphasises people’s right to migrate, while acknowledging a nation’s right to control its borders.
‘However, the acceptability of such measures is limited to circumstances in which they are clearly required to protect the receiving community. Controls on migration should be exercised with compassion, giving special attention to people who need to leave their country in order to flourish and live in dignity,’ the document says.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the bishops’ conference, said Love the Stranger draws together more than one hundred years of Catholic teaching.
‘While it does not propose detailed solutions to complex problems, it clearly calls for procedures which permit safe and controlled access and a fair hearing to those seeking asylum. Present arrangements in this country are dramatically lacking in both of these requirements,’ the cardinal said.
According to the BBC, 45,756 migrants crossed the English Channel to Britain in small boats in 2022.
Sources: Crux; www.cbcew.org.uk/love-the-stranger