faith in action

Global migration: From a special Sunday to daily advocacy

This coming Sunday, Dec. 3, United Methodist congregations worldwide will focus their Sunday services to the global migration crisis.

Global Migration Sunday will be an occasion for “prayer and special offering to raise awareness and funds to aid migrants and refugees.” The initiative is backed by the United Methodist Council of Bishops and is a partnership between several United Methodist general boards and agencies.

This Sunday will be a day when the whole church has an opportunity to focus on the gravity of forced migration and mass displacement of at least 65 million people worldwide.

The U.N.-designated International Migrants Day is Dec. 18 and represents another day to highlight the need for action that improves the lives of migrants and refugees.

An advocacy statement developed by Church and Society calls United Methodists to learn more about the state of global migration. It also calls us to advocate for policies and practices that demonstrate just and hospitable welcome for refugees and migrants.

The Council of Bishops held a one-day consultation on global migration at it’s November meeting. The council’s immigration task force, chaired by Bishop Minerva Carcaño, hosted the discussion and Bishop Rosemarie Wenner facilitated.

The Rev. Paul Jeffrey, a missionary with Global Ministries, and the Rev. Jorge Domingues, a former executive with Global Ministries who recently traveled Europe’s migration routes, presented on the faces of global migration. Jeffrey presented powerful photographs and his first-person witness of forced migration.

I also presented. My presentation focused on the global phase of migration, underscoring the ongoing global negotiations for two separate global compacts on “safe, orderly and regular migration” and on refugees that will include a “comprehensive refugee response framework.” The development of the global agreements is an intergovernmental and multistakeholder process led by the United Nations.

The U.N. and international affairs office of Church and Society has represented The United Methodist Church at critical phases of the negotiations of these global compacts. This participation has happened in both formal settings at the U.N. and the venues for civil society participation.

I emphasized to the bishops how vital it is to advocate for public policies that are human rights-based and people-centered. This assertion is drawn straight from the United Methodist resolutions dealing with migrants and refugees. I also stressed that there are currently available and enforceable international mechanisms that enshrine the protection of and aid to migrants and refugees.

Three documents will help raise greater awareness of the nature of forced migration in the world. These come from both U.N. and civil society sources. I share them as resources for the Global Migration Sunday, as well as for the ongoing education work that we need to undertake to address the realities of massive and forced movement of peoples. Church and Society has helped to develop and draft these documents.

The first document is the Communiqué of the Asian Consultation on Human Trafficking and Forced Migration: A Call for Decent Labor and a Living Wage.

The communiqué addressed the complexity and the alarming level of forced migration worldwide, including human trafficking. The consultation agonized about how Rohingya Muslims are being treated in Myanmar, addressing what it called, “hapless victims of complex nation-state relations who have been rendered stateless.” The statement trod carefully between not unnecessarily offending the host churches and the country but remaining a vocal witness to a tragic situation that has increasingly attracted international scrutiny.

The second document is called Talking and Doing Points of Churches Witnessing With Migrants. It was the product of the Eight International Consultation of CWWM held in Berlin, Germany, earlier this year. CWWM submitted this document to the U.N.‘s meeting on a safe, orderly and regular migration. CWWM will also present this report at an official U.N. stocktaking in December.

CWWM is an international coalition of grassroots migrants, migrant-serving organizations and faith-based institutions. CWWM focuses on addressing forced migration as a violation of human rights and a denial of the inherent dignity of migrants, refugees and all uprooted peoples. CWWM is committed to eliminating the conditions that create forced and enforced migration, especially the causes and historical injustices, and their contemporary manifestations that perpetuate such conditions.

The third is a comprehensive document called Now and How: Ten Acts for the Global Compact. It is a “vision for a transformative agenda for human mobility, migration, and development.”

A group of 50 organizations drafted the document. Each of these groups is part of the civil society action committee established for the U.N. Summit on Refugees and Migrants.

The document enumerates 10 concrete actions to improve global migration. Additionally, the document names two crosscutting values that should be included in all parts of any compact: the rights of children, and gender-responsive policies.