Written by Rob Rutland-Brown, Executive Director.
I recently had the opportunity to take part in a week-long gathering in New York City called the People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights. Individuals representing faith communities and non-profits from around the world convened to discuss global migration issues and to urge the United Nations, which was holding its High-level Dialogue on Migration that week, to prioritize the human rights of migrants. I came away with a new perspective on Justice For Our Neighbor’s work.
At JFON, although we work with immigrants from throughout the world, our focus is really on U.S. immigration laws. We help low-income immigrants navigate our country’s laws, educate the community at large about our immigration system, and advocate our legislators to reform it. But after a week surrounded by immigrant-rights activists from around the world, I realize how limited my own perspective on immigration has been.
The issues that immigrants in the U.S. face are not unique to our country. The reasons people come to the United States—to find work, to flee danger or hardship, or to unite with family, to name a few — are experienced by migrants throughout the world, to and from all countries.
We are not the only nation with an immigration policy that needs to be more attuned to the realities of immigrants within its borders or to those seeking to be here. We aren’t the only country that needs to focus more on examining the root causes of migration and asking why immigrants make the difficult decision to migrate in the first place. Our immigration reform efforts should be taken in a global context and not structured solely from the perspective of what’s happening inside our borders. We can learn a lot from what other countries are experiencing, both in terms of how countries receive immigrants and why countries have people leaving.
I also left the gathering with a sense of fellowship, knowing that our work at JFON is one of countless other ministries and organizations around the world whose focus is to love the migrant.