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U.S. and Mexican bishops living along the border issued a joint statement this week calling for “humanitarian solutions” to immigration.

“As U.S. and Mexican bishops along the border, we witness daily the dilemma that our migrant sisters and brothers face,” the statement reads. “For most, the decision to migrate is not motivated by an indifference toward their homeland or the pursuit of economic prosperity; it is a matter of life or death.”

While recognizing the right of nations to control their borders, the bishops call on countries to welcome migrants in accordance with their “intrinsic dignity” and to pay special care to the treatment of children.

“Undoubtedly, nations have the right to maintain their borders. This is vital to their sovereignty and self-determination,” the bishops declare. “At the same time, there is a shared responsibility of all nations to preserve human life and provide for safe, orderly, and humane immigration, including the right to asylum.”

The nine U.S. bishops and six Mexican bishops urge leaders of both host nations and countries of emigration to improve conditions to reduce the need for migration and to take better care of those who migrate.

We renew our appeal to our governments, to political leaders, and civil society, “that they work together to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants in accordance with their intrinsic dignity, as well as work with other countries in the region to eliminate conditions that compel their citizens to resort to dangerous and irregular migration, producing long-term solutions,” they state.

In their statement, the bishops also call for special attention to the unity of families.

“Conscious of the importance of public health and safety, we encourage policies supported by sound scientific rationales,” they declare. “We maintain that family unity must be a vital component of any response. We ask that special attention be given to particularly vulnerable populations, such as children.”

The bishops also “strongly urge that structures be put in place and reforms in our laws be made to both promote a welcoming culture for our sisters and brothers and respect the sovereignty and safety of our countries.”

The prelates also offer the support of Catholic institutions and structures to aid in an effort to improve the immigration process.

“We pledge our support to continue helping our respective governments’ efforts to protect and care for families, as well as individuals who feel compelled to migrate,” they state. “To accomplish this we commit to the ongoing work of Catholic organizations at the border and elsewhere, which are generously tended to by lay people, consecrated persons, and the clergy.”

The bishops conclude by suggesting that Holy Week, when Christians celebrate the mystery of salvation, is an appropriate time to recommit to helping migrants, “conscious that while the way ahead is long and arduous, it is not impossible if we journey together.”

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