The undersecretary of the Vatican’s department for Migrants and Refugees warned this week of the rise of a “new protectionism” against unchecked immigration in Europe.
“At the end of the crisis, which we hope will be very soon, we will have massive migratory flows stemming from people’s desire to find a solution to their economic problems,” said Father Fabio Baggio during an online Forum on Migrations and Human Mobility.
“We think that many countries will have restricted entry, as they have done at this time, without promoting regular channels of immigration… to give priority to their nationals,” he warned. “This rise of ‘new protectionism’ could cause an increase in irregular channels of immigration.”
The Italian priest noted that in recent months there has been a reduction in migration flows due to the coronavirus pandemic, but also an increase in migrant trafficking by various mafias. He also decried discrimination toward migrants in the health assistance programs in some countries.
“There are many migrant workers — thousands — who have had to return to their homeland, lost their jobs, stopped sending remittances to their families, and that is why we have families in crisis and entire nations that are facing crises of returning migrants,” he said. “The pandemic has affected all people, yes, but the most vulnerable in a more particular way.”
The priest said that the Vatican’s department for Migrants and Refugees is trying to draw the attention of the international community to fundamental points from Catholic Social Teaching, claiming that streamlining mass migration “can be a solution that benefits everyone.”
There are much “more effective alternatives” without resorting to detaining illegal migrants, Father Baggio said. “Starting from the premise that there is no possibility of detaining children, and that children cannot be separated from their families, we are going to think about channels, paths, programs, sponsorship tutoring, community assistance programs that can be provided to migrants in an irregular situation,” he said.
In the Vatican Commission for COVID-19, of which I form a part, “we are convinced that this crisis constitutes an opportunity, a kairos, to change the system,” the priest said. “The world economic and social system has revealed many flaws, especially where discriminations and asymmetries in the access and distribution of resources are more evident.”
“We must take this opportunity to change the system, and propose new economic systems and restart another idea of society and another idea of a world system,” he proposed.