A man, his wife and six children make the hazardous journey to a new country to escape poverty and the violence perpetuated in his homeland by a corrupt government. He joins his two brothers in a paving business, but the economic recession cripples their opportunities and they are forced to do odd jobs to support their families. In addition to having to learn a new language, one of the grown sons, even though trained as an economist in his home country, can only find work making bicycle deliveries.This could be the generic description for untold thousands coming from Latin America into the United States. There are many citizens here who would say that while it is unfortunate that these home countries are undergoing such strife and hardship, that it is not our responsibility to allow them entrance, let alone welcome them to our social life and grant them access to our booming-in-comparison economy.
Their perspective would probably change if they were told that the bike deliveryman was Pope Francis' father, and that the family had fled post World War I Italy and Mussolini's fascism in order to emigrate to Argentina.
It is for all these reasons that this pope has made solidarity with the poor and the defense of immigrants some of his leading priorities. While any religious leader might embrace those positions, he rarely misses an opportunity to press the case.
Therefore his visit to the US in the fall will certainly be news-worthy as not only is he set to address a joint session of the House and Senate, meet with President Obama and address the UN, but all of this coinciding with Presidential party campaigning promises to bring one more public voice to the already loud immigration debate.
As the fourth most powerful person in the word (according to Forbes), strangely enough though this Pope not only frames the issue in the terms of his spiritual office - needing to respond to the humanitarian needs of those forced to leave their homes for various reasons and seeking refuge - but he also astutely grasps the fact that there are major economic forces at play.
Unfortunately, within today's political and media discourse, immigration is all too frequently framed as simply a social problem in need of solving, but this Pope not only understands the issue from this perspective but also from an economic one, when he said last year, "Globalization is a phenomenon that challenges us, especially in one of its principal manifestations which is emigration. Despite the large influx of migrants present in all continents and in almost all countries, migration is still seen as an emergency, or as a circumstantial and sporadic fact, while instead it has now become a hallmark of our society and a challenge."
Much of modern-day migration, especially from developing to developed nations, is an intrinsic part of globalization. Current immigration is not only a result of globalization, but also reflects global demographic realities.
A century ago, the Industrial Revolution served as a catalyst for immigration; an increasingly global economy serves much the same role today. The global production, distribution and consumption of goods and services stimulates migration because where capital flows, immigrants tend to follow. Labor markets in globally coordinated economies are reliant on foreign workers in both the highly remunerated knowledge-intensive sector and in the more labor-intensive sector.
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