In a special Christmas message Friday, Pope Francis called on all countries to review their laws on migration and do more to help and welcome refugees and migrants to their countries.
“With regard to migrants, I would ask that legislation on migration be reviewed, so, while respecting reciprocal rights and responsibilities, it can reflect a readiness to welcome migrants and to facilitate their integration,” he said in his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace.
He also praised those who have chosen to shelter refugees, asking God to “repay all those, both individuals and states, who generously work to provide assistance and welcome” to them.
The pope's appeal comes at a time when Europe is making efforts to develop a comprehensive migration law to deal with the influx of people entering the continent from Africa and the Middle East, fleeing war and poverty. Several European countries have already refused the proposal of accepting migration quotas and many have already tried to close their borders with makeshift fences.
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Meanwhile in the United States, The Washington Post released a report this week detailing a plan that U.S. officials will begin in January a cross-country raid and deportation process for undocumented migrants. The deportations are expected to affect mainly migrants and refugees from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, some of the most dangerous countries in the world.
The pope added that “special concern should be paid to the conditions for legal residency, since having to live clandestinely can lead to criminal behavior.”
IN DEPTH: Refugee and Migrant Rights
The pontiff gave his annual Christmas message from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in front of tens of thousands of supporters. His message is also sent to heads of state, as well as international organizations, such as the United Nations.
In his speech, the pope also made a plea of mitigated hope to ending some of the world's major conflicts, many of which are the cause of the migration and refugee crises.
He backed the recent accords in Syria and Libya, and touched on several other conflict zones, including Iraq, Yemen, the DR Congo, Burundi and South Sudan, following a year of violence and suffering that forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
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