His message comes amid heated tensions on the immigration issue in the U.S. in particular, as President Donald Trump has outlined new legislation with sweeping cuts to the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country, as well as the implementation of a merit-based visa system.
The issue was one of the most contentious during Trump's campaign, and he even sparred with Pope Francis when he threatened to built a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border. So far during his time in office, Trump has promoted the idea of the wall, and has implemented a travel ban on six majority-Muslim countries, from which millions are fleeing due to war and violent conflict.
As it stands, current U.S. law forbids migrants from receiving food stamps, Medicaid and Social Security until they have been in the U.S. for at least five years.
However, in his message Pope Francis in his second point stressed that protecting immigrants means defending "the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status."
"Such protection begins in the country of origin, and consists in offering reliable and verified information before departure, and in providing safety from illegal recruitment practice," he said.
This entails ensuring migrants have proper council and assistance, the right to access documents of identification at any time, the ability of opening a personal bank account and enough money to live on.
"When duly recognized and valued, the potential and skills of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are a true resource for the communities that welcome them," Francis said. "This is why I hope that, in countries of arrival, migrants may be offered freedom of movement, work opportunities, and access to means of communication, out of respect for their dignity."
For those who decide to return to their homelands, reintegration programs ought to be available, the Pope said, and urged for protection of underage migrants, particularly those who travel alone.
"They must be spared any form of detention related to migratory status, and must be guaranteed regular access to primary and secondary education," he said, adding that when they come of age, these migrants must be "guaranteed the right to remain" in their host country and continue their studies.
Foster programs for unaccompanied minors ought to be set up, and nationality granted and "duly certified" for all children at birth, he said, adding that the "statelessness" some migrants fall into can be avoided with national legislation that respects "the fundamental principals of international law."
When it comes to "promoting" the interests of migrants and refugees, Pope Francis said this refers to "a determined effort to ensure that all migrants and refugees – as well as the communities which welcome them – are empowered to achieve their potential as human beings, in all the dimensions which constitute the humanity intended by the Creator."
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This means ensuring freedom of religion, and promoting the personal and professional abilities of migrants, which must be "appropriately recognized and valued."
Since work is essential to dignity, Francis voiced encouragement for "a determined effort to promote the social and professional inclusion of migrants and refugees," guaranteeing for all – including those seeking asylum – the opportunity for employment, language classes and "active citizenship," with enough information provided in their mother tongue to ensure that they are successful.
However, when it comes to minors, the Pope cautioned that their involvement with labor must be properly regulated in order to eliminate and prevent opportunities for exploitation. He also spoke out on the need to help disabled migrants, saying they "must be granted greater assistance and support."
Francis also called for an increase in international humanitarian assistance for developing countries receiving high numbers of migrants and refugees, and voiced hope that local communities that are vulnerable and financially strapped "will be included among aid beneficiaries."
His final point, integration, is something the Pope has often brought up in relation to the migrant issue, taking advantage of speaking engagements with large governmental bodies such as the the Council of Europe or foreign diplomats.
In his message, Francis said integration is not "an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity," but rather, he said contact with others "leads to discovering their 'secret,' to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better."