Catholic World News News Feature
Illegal immigrants have rights, archbishop says July 11, 2007
At the Global Forum on Migrants and Development, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants told participants: "The status of irregular migrants does not make them criminals."
Archbishop Agostino Marchetto told the conference, meeting this week in Brussels, that regardless of how migrants arrive in a new country, "their human dignity must be respected and their freedoms guaranteed." The archbishop went on to list the rights that all immigrants should enjoy: "the right to a dignified life, to fair treatment at work, to have access to education, health and other social benefits, to grow in competence and develop humanly, to freely manifest their culture and practice their religion."
"But rights and duties go together," the archbishop added. He said that immigrants have the duty to learn and obey the laws of their host countries, to learn the language, and to become active participants in the country's society.
Archbishop Marchetto acknowledged that it is difficult to ensure the rights of immigrants who are living in "irregular" situations-- without proper legal status. "The solution," he said, "is better international cooperation that discourages irregularity, with increased legal channels for migration."