Disentangling the welcome, loosening the tongue, denouncing the injustice


Nosotros juntos (We together), is the motto of the United Nations International Migrants Day. In just two words, it concentrates much of what should be the result of a migration policy. "Together in one we". Together without "them" drawing borders that distance us. Together, to face the present. Together and together "In Proximity" because the truth is that we cannot understand each other without the "other".

Pedro Guerra sings in his song Babel:

We build bridges against the Tower of Babel, bonds that invite understanding.

Because without bridges and ties there is no understanding. And without understanding there are no possible scenarios for "being" together. The racism and xenophobia that have gained new momentum with the pandemic [i] threaten to dynamite existing bridges and prevent others from being built.

It's all about empathy. And we could start by recognizing that during this pandemic that is doing so much damage, many of the immigrants in our country have been on the front lines of risk because the jobs they were doing made them "essential" in many areas: In residences, in cleaning services, in food supplies, in supermarket checkouts, in transporting goods, in home deliveries acquired through digital platforms... Others directly entered the Record of Temporary Employment Regulation (ERTE) or lost their jobs, often precarious, and found themselves joining the queues of food banks and charities due to the lack of response from social services that were not always up to the task.

It is a matter of empathizing if you think of the countries of origin of many of those who during the pandemic have tried to reach the Spanish coast by the "Mediterranean route", by the "Canary route": Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Syria... Countries whose inhabitants were driven by the pandemic, conflicts or over-exploitation of the resources they lived off by large multinationals to look to Europe and throw themselves into the sea. A sea that ended up being the grave of a good part of them.

It's all about empathy if you think about the hundreds of people crowded together for weeks on the Arguineguín dock. Those who are locked up in the Immigration Detention. In the unaccompanied foreign children whose situation is not given the necessary response by the Public Administrations in charge of their guardianship and who are stigmatized and criminalized. If we think of the seasonal workers who live badly in improvised camps, in those who crowd into abandoned industrial warehouses, which from time to time are set on fire as happened recently in Badalona.

Empathy is the issue when you think about those who suffer from hot flashes, repatriation flights, racially profiled police checks. Those whose rights are violated, locked up in establishments in countries with which the European Union has outsourced its borders. It is worth remembering how, at a recent conference, the president of the German parliament, Wolfgang Schauble, stated unequivocally that "The European Union has no choice but to work with despotic regimes" to control immigration.

This is a matter of indignation when one sees that the European Union seems not to have learned anything from its mistakes in migration policy by proposing a Migration Pact that weakens solidarity between Member States and dilutes the role of the Union as a key player. Or when it is noted that the European Union's Plan for Integration and Social Inclusion on immigration focuses more on "preventive integration" based on fear and control of possible terrorist actions than on "effective integration". It even suggests that citizens of the Member States should be able to integrate if they have a migrant background.

Three attitudes: Disentangling the welcome, loosening the tongue, denouncing the injustice

Empathizing is a necessary exercise, because it confronts the person with reality and - as Zubiri states - turns it into "sentient reality". However, it is necessary, as Ignacio Ellacuría would say, one more step. It is necessary to take charge of reality in order to bear it and take care of it.

The question would then be: How do we take charge of reality and more specifically of the migrant reality? How do we build that "we together" which is the motto of the International Day of the Migrant? And here we could suggest three attitudes:

Discourage acceptance: Realize that we can continue to embrace, to welcome despite the real masks and those other "fictional masks" that we put on and reserve for us in quiet, uncomfortable places. They hold back our generosity and impoverish our gaze.

Not to remain impassive, as spectators before the drama of what is happening. To inform oneself, to read, to analyze in order to respond well to the needs that arise.

This Advent, the icon of the family of Nazareth, an immigrant, an inhabitant of a substandard home, persecuted by the powerful who want to kill her, has a clear reflection in the reality of migration. The response can only be that of the shepherds who are on the alert and set out on their journey.

Loose the tongue. In the face of situations of social injustice, of unsympathetic policies, of racist and xenophobic attitudes and statements, how is it that our blood does not boil? How is it that our reactions do not cross the threshold of our homes, the comfortable space of comfort of those who resignedly nod, consent and resign themselves?

Denounce injustice so that justice is done. Human rights are at stake and are equally the heritage of all. It cannot be tolerated that institutions such as the European Union and/or its Member States provide responses that result in the violation of the rights of migrants. There is no room for nuance when it comes to the survival and dignity of the individual.

Denunciation is a civic duty and for Christian believers it is also an ethical obligation. Use the various channels to articulate the complaint: from human rights organizations to the Ombudsman, the Courts or the European Court of Human Rights are resources that should not be underused. Along with this, it is important to dismantle stigmatizing discourses that sow fear and that need to be used in depth in the most everyday spaces.

Justice and Peace. Tool for prophetic denouncement.

Justice and Peace is only understood from the Denouncement and the Announcement. That is why it was established. To be a conscience of the Church and society in matters of human rights and it continues on this path after fifty-two years.

In the area of migration, Justice and Peace is a member of the Platform for Migrants with Rights, together with Confer, the Spanish Episcopal Commission for Migration and Caritas.

He is also a founding member of the Federation of Associations for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights and a member of PICUM, the Platform for the Defence of Undocumented Migrants in Europe.

From all of these areas, Justice and Peace tries to keep its eyes open, its heart sensitive and its hand ready in the face of human rights violations.

Emilio José Gómez Ciriano. Human Rights Officer of Justice and Peace

[i] Message from Pope Francis on the occasion of the World Day of Peace in 2020