In Italy, for example, the coronavirus has closed borders, thus preventing the arrival of seasonal workers, usually mostly from Eastern Europe, into the country. Italian farmers depend on seasonal migrant workers for harvesting their spring crops.
In April, the government relaxed measures to allow undocumented immigrants already in Italy to work in agriculture to make up for the labor-shortage.
Now, the government has introduced an amnesty, a "regularization," measure for certain migrants working in agriculture or domestic labor to receive temporary legal status in a bid to prevent criminal organizations from exploiting them for cheap labor.
This would also allow migrants to be eligible for healthcare, a prospect which Czerny praised.
The cardinal said some countries have created pathways for immigrants to receive healthcare, realizing "the virus doesn't distinguish between citizens and migrants. You've got to stop the virus wherever it's spreading."
Despite these measures, reports indicate that exploitation of undocumented migrants for slave labor is likely on the rise during lockdown.
Czerny said with countries enforcing quarantines, a lot of international movement has stopped, yet, people in desperate situations continue to try to find work or safety, so some "movement continues, and unfortunately criminal activity continues."
"People who are vulnerable and in despair continue to be taken advantage of. Movement of that sort, that is very risky, continues."
Reports say that during the pandemic migrant boats have continued to land on the island of Lampedusa, located between Sicily and Libya, and refugee reception and processing centers, sometimes called "hotspots," are already at or above capacity.
Czerny said "our hope is that the crisis of coronavirus will encourage the authorities to regularize, to make more regular and easier, the passage of people who need to move, because, for example, they're needed in various sectors, industries, and services."
"So, let's not continue this blatant contradiction: saying 'Yes, let them come and help us,' but, 'No they're not allowed to come," he urged. "That doesn't make any sense at all."
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The cardinal said that while immigration is often spoken of as a "global crisis," solutions are best found on the local level.
"There are no global responses, there are only local answers," he emphasized.
"You see why our Migrants and Refugees Section is most interested in what's going on on the ground, at the borders, on the Mediterranean, in the farm belts…"
His office is connected to local churches, national bishops' conferences, and the organizations that work with them, the cardinal said.
"We're very happy to accompany them and, especially, to try to respect the real conditions in each place," he noted, adding that what helps in one place will not always help in another.
Czerny highlighted the Catholic parishes at the U.S.-Mexico border, which spiritually support people in both countries.