SAO PAULO (CNS) — Church representatives working with immigrants and refugees criticized Brazil’s planned withdrawal from a global agreement to safeguard migrant people.
The Brazilian bishops’ conference and a priest who directs a migrant studies center that assists migrants said the decision disregards the needs of people fleeing violence and poverty in their search for safety and comfort.
Brazil’s Foreign Ministry sent a telegram to its diplomats Jan. 9, asking them to inform the United Nations about the country’s withdrawal from the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
The compact was signed by 164 nations, including Brazil, in December.
Jair Bolsonaro, sworn in Jan. 1 as Brazil’s new president, pledged before his inauguration to withdraw the country from the agreement. Austria and the United States are among countries that have announced they would not participate in the pact because it places constraints on national migration policies.
“We are returning to a time when immigration and refugee flows were seen as a national security issue and not a human rights issue,” said Father Paolo Parise, director of the Migratory Studies Center, an entity that includes Mission Peace and the Migrant House in Sao Paulo.
Through the years, Mission Peace and Father Parise has aided hundreds of refugees who arrived in Latin America’s largest city. In the last year alone, the program, run by the Scalabrini International Migration Network, hosted dozens of Venezuelan families fleeing the political and economic turmoil in their homeland.
Mission Peace has helped refugees obtain Brazilian work documents, find jobs and housing and get the children enrolled in school.
For Father Parise, the withdrawal has a “symbolic value” and may have affect the way Brazilians view refugees.
“This will reinforce the perception by a part of the population that see refugees and immigrants as a threat,” he told Catholic News Service Jan. 10.
Father Parise said he believes the withdrawal will cause more harm to the 3 million Brazilians living abroad, many illegally, than to the immigrants and refugees who seek shelter Brazil.
“When I worked in Rome, between 2008 and 2009, I met many, many Brazilians living in Italy and throughout Europe. A lot of them had expired visas and were not legally able to work,” he said.
For the Brazilian bishops’ conference, the global pact was a positive outcome following three years of negotiations among the world’s nations. “We are leaving an important global dialogue,” said Roberval Freire, who works at the conference’s Migration Pastoral office.
“Regrettably and erroneously, the new government abandons this tradition (of hosting) and rejects the global migration pact,” he said in a Jan. 10 statement.
The statement said the migration office regretted that the new government sees the act as a threat to Brazil’s sovereignty.
“We declare that we continue defenders and fighters of a society without borders, without walls and we defend a more humane and solidary treatment between Brazilians, other peoples and nations that need our help,” it said. “We do not want a society that discards the human being.”
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103