What to Think About During National Migration Week

The week of January 7 to January 14 has been dubbed “National Migration Week,” wherein Americans reflect on the United States’ history of immigration. This is an important aspect of introspection; we must look to our past in order to move forward. However, events such as these have been distorted by some Non-Government Organizations to suite their own goals. As stated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on their site: 

For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for National Migration Week 2017, “Many Journeys, One Family,” draws attention to the fact that each of our families have a migration story, some recent and others in the distant past. Regardless of where we are and where we came from, we remain part of the human family and are called to live in solidarity with one another.

Unfortunately, in our contemporary culture we often fail to encounter migrants as persons, and instead look at them as unknown others, if we even notice them at all. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, as fellow children of God, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious or fearful of them. During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as community members, neighbors, and friends.

We all feel for the plight of refugees who are suffering worldwide, unable to return to their homes. Sadly however, organizations like the USCCB are not the champions of migrants that they claim to be. They are, rather unfortunately, government contractors that are in many cases acting in their best interest.

Refugee watchdog group Refugee Resettlement Watch has been tracking the efforts and expenditures of government contracted refugee groups such as the USCCB, and has discovered many unsettling revelations. USCCB, for example, received over $95 million dollars from the Federal Government for their refugee and migrant programs.  There is little accountability for the usage of this money, and we essentially have to take these christian groups at their word.

Refugee Resettlement Watch has also noted the objections of refugee contractors on the termination of the Temporary Protected Status (or TPS) program for migrants from El Salvador. Designed for national crises such as natural disasters or civil war, these TPS programs average in length of roughly 18 months. However, the Salvadoran program, which began in 2001 after a devastating series of earthquakes in the country, has remained for almost 17 years.

Those who oppose the program’s termination such as the US Bishops’ Conference argue that while the original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist, the return of Salvadoran refugees would destabilize the country. Frankly, that decision is not up to the US Bishops’ Conference, but by the government of the United States. There is a valid concern that programs such as these are being used by refugee contractors to collect a paycheck from the government, while foreign citizens remain in the United States in an indefinite limbo. If these charities are so concerned at the current state of El Salvador, they should petition the government to send foreign aid, not house their citizens for them for decades.

This week we most certainly should reflect on the historical and cultural significance of immigration on our country, but we should also remain wary of those that seek to profit off of the status quo.

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