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Global migration is a major challenge for much of today’s world and a priority for the Catholic

Church. In words and deeds, Pope Francis repeatedly shows his deep compassion for all who are

displaced. Witness his encounters with migrants and refugees on the Islands of Lampedusa and

Lesbos. Witness his call for their full embrace: to welcome, to protect, to promote, and to integrate

migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking.


In addition, the Holy Father is guiding the Church to assist the world community in systematically

improving its responses to the displaced. For the international political community has launched a

multilateral process of consultations and negotiations with the goal of adopting two Global

Compacts by the end of 2018, one on international migrants and the other on refugees.

The Church has already taken a stand on many of the issues which will be included in the Global

Compacts and, drawing on its varied and longstanding pastoral experience, would like to

contribute actively to this process. To support this contribution, the Vatican’s Section on Migrants

& Refugees (Dicastery for promoting Integral Human Development), consulting with various

Bishops’ Conferences and Catholic NGOs, has prepared the following Twenty Action Points on

migrants and refugees. They do not exhaust the Church’s teaching on migrants and refugees, but

provide useful considerations which Catholic advocates can use, add to and develop in their

dialogue with governments towards the Global Compacts. The 20 Points are grounded on

migrants’ and refugees’ needs identified at the grassroots level and on the Church’s best practices.

The Points have been approved by the Holy Father.

The Migrants & Refugees Section, guided by the Holy Father, urges the Bishops’ Conferences to

explain the Compacts and the Points to their parishes and Church organizations, with the hope of

fostering more effective solidarity with migrants and refugees. Given the great range of issues

covered in the Points, each Bishops’ Conference should select the most relevant points for their

national situation and bring them to their Government’s attention, specifically the Ministers

responsible for the country’s negotiations on the Global Compacts. Each country has already

begun to prepare its position, and the negotiations will take place during the first six or eight

months of 2018. The same Points in more formal language, for use in advocacy, may be found in

the document Twenty Action Points for the Global Compacts.

Though grounded in the Church’s experience and reflection, the 20 Points ​are offered as valuable

considerations to all people of good will who might be willing to implement them and advocate

1 Address to participants in the International Forum on "Migration and Peace", 21 February 2017.

Migrants & Refugees Section | Integral Human Development | Piazza San Calisto | 00120 Vatican City

Tel. +39 06 698 87376 | |


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their inclusion in their country’s negotiations. Leaders and members of all faiths, and

organizations of civil society, are welcome to join in this effort. Let us unite to welcome, to protect, to

promote, and to integrate people obliged to leave their home and seeking a new one among us.

Welcoming:​ ​Increasing​ ​Safe​ ​and​ ​Legal​ ​Routes​ ​for​ ​Migrants​ ​and​ ​Refugees

The decision to emigrate should be made freely and voluntarily. Migration should be an orderly

process which respects the laws of each country involved. To this end, the following points are to

be considered:

1. The collective or arbitrary expulsion of migrants and refugees should be avoided. The

principle of non-refoulement should always be respected: migrants and refugees must never

be returned to a country which has been deemed unsafe. The application of this principle

should be based on the level of safety effectively afforded to each individual, rather than on a

summary evaluation of a country’s general state of security. The routine application of a list of

“safe countries” often fails to consider the real security needs of particular refugees; they must

be treated on an individual basis.

2. Legal routes for safe and voluntary migration or relocation should be multiplied. This can be

achieved by granting more humanitarian visas, visas for students and apprentices, family

reunification visas (including siblings, grandparents and grandchildren), and temporary visas

for people fleeing conflict in neighbouring countries; by creating humanitarian corridors for

the most vulnerable; and by launching private and community sponsorship programmes,

programmes for relocating refugees in communities rather than concentrating them in holding


3. The value of each person’s safety – rooted in a profound respect for the inalienable rights of

migrants, asylum seekers and refugees – should be correctly balanced with national security

concerns. This can be achieved through appropriate training for border agents; by ensuring

that migrants, asylum seekers and refugees have access to basic services, including legal

services; by ensuring protection for anyone fleeing war and violence; and by seeking

alternative solutions to detention for those who enter a country without authorisation.

Protecting:​ ​Defending​ ​the​ ​Rights​ ​and​ ​Dignity​ ​of​ ​Migrants​ ​and​ ​Refugees

The Church has repeatedly underlined the need for an integral approach to the issue of migration,

in profound respect for each person’s dignity and rights and in consideration of the multiple

dimensions of each individual. The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights, and cannot

depend on a person’s legal status. To this end, the following points are suggested:

4. Emigrants must be protected by their countries of origin. Authorities in these countries should

offer reliable information before departure; should ensure that all channels of emigration are

legalised and certified; should create a government department for the diaspora; and should

offer consular assistance and protection abroad.

5. Immigrants must be protected by their countries of arrival, in order to prevent exploitation,

forced labour and human trafficking. This can be achieved by prohibiting employers from

withholding employees’ documents; by ensuring access to justice for all migrants,

independently of their legal status and without negative repercussions on their right to remain;

by ensuring that all immigrants can open a personal bank account; by establishing a minimum

wage applicable to all workers; and by ensuring that wages are paid at least once a month.


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6. Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees must be empowered to leverage their skills and

competencies in order to improve their own wellbeing and the prosperity of their communities.

This can be achieved by guaranteeing in-country freedom of movement and permission to

return after work abroad; by providing ample access to the means of communication; by

involving local communities in the integration of asylum seekers; and by developing

programmes of professional and social reintegration for anyone who chooses to return to their

home country.

7. The vulnerability of unaccompanied minors and minors separated from their families must be

tackled in accordance with the international Convention on the Rights of the Child. This can be

achieved by seeking alternative solutions to detention for legally underage migrants who enter

a country without authorisation; by offering temporary custody or foster homes for

unaccompanied or separated minors; and by setting up separate centres for the identification

and processing of minors, adults and families.

8. All underage migrants must be protected in accordance with the international Convention on

the Rights of the Child. This can be achieved through the compulsory registration of all births

and by ensuring that underage migrants do not become irregular when they reach adulthood

and that they can continue their education.

9. Access to education should be assured to all underage migrants, asylum seekers and refugees,

so that they have access to primary and secondary schooling at the same standard as citizens

and independently of their legal status.

10. Access to welfare should be assured to all migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, respecting

their right to health and basic healthcare independently of legal status, and ensuring access to

national pension schemes and the transferability of benefits in case of moving to another


11. Migrants should never become a-national or stateless, in accordance to the right to nationality

stated by international conventions, and citizenship should be recognized at birth.

Promoting:​ ​Fostering​ ​the​ ​Integral​ ​Human​ ​Development​ ​of​ ​Migrants​ ​and​ ​Refugees

The Church has repeatedly emphasised the need to promote integral human development for

migrants, asylum seekers and refugees alongside local residents. Countries should include

migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in their plan for national development. To this end, the

following points are to be considered:

12. The competencies of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees should be valued and developed

in countries of arrival by guaranteeing equal access to higher education, specialization courses,

apprenticeships and internships, and by validating qualifications obtained elsewhere.

13. The social and professional inclusion of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees within local

communities should be supported by recognising their freedom of movement and their right to

choose where to live; by making information available in their languages of origin; by offering

language classes and courses on local customs and culture; and by granting asylum seekers

and refugees the right to work.

14. The integrity and well-being of the family should always be protected and promoted,

independently of legal status. This can be achieved by embracing broader family reunification

(grandparents, grandchildren and siblings) independently of financial requirements; by

allowing reunified family members to work; by undertaking the search for lost family


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members; by combating the exploitation of minors; and by ensuring that, if employed, their

work does not adversely affect their health or their right to education.

15. Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees with special needs are to be treated just like citizens

with the same conditions, guaranteeing access to disability benefits independently of legal

status, and enrolling unaccompanied or separated minors with disabilities in special education


16. The funds for international development and humanitarian support, sent to countries which

receive a significant influx of refugees and migrants fleeing from armed conflict, should be

increased, ensuring that the needs of both newcomer and resident populations can be met. This

can be achieved by funding the establishment and development of institutions for medical,

educational and social care in countries of arrival, and by extending financial help and

assistance programmes to local families in situations of vulnerability.

17. The right to religious freedom – in terms of both belief and practice – should be assured to all

migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, independently of legal status.

Integrating:​ ​Greater​ ​Participation​ ​of​ ​Migrants​ ​and​ ​Refugees​ ​to​ ​Enrich​ ​Local​ ​Communities

The arrival of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees represents an opportunity for growth as

much for local communities as for the newcomers. The encounter of different cultures is a source

of mutual enrichment, since inclusion and participation contribute to the development of societies.

To this end the following points are to be implemented:

18. Integration, as a two-directional process which acknowledges and values the riches of both

cultures, should be promoted. This can be achieved by recognising citizenship at birth; by

rapidly extending nationality to all refugees, independently of financial requirements or

linguistic knowledge (at least for over-50s); by promoting family reunification; and by

declaring a one-off period of amnesty and legalisation for migrants who have lived in a

country for a considerable amount of time.

19. A positive narrative of solidarity towards migrants, asylum seekers and refugees should be

promoted. This can be achieved by funding intercultural exchange projects; by supporting

integration programmes in local communities; by documenting and disseminating good

practices in integration; and by ensuring that public announcements are translated into the

languages spoken by larger numbers of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

20. Those who are forced to flee humanitarian crises and are subsequently evacuated or enrolled in

assisted repatriation programmes must be ensured appropriate conditions for reintegration in

their countries of origin. This can be achieved by increasing the funds assigned to temporary

assistance for those affected by humanitarian crises and by developing infrastructure in

countries of return, by validating educational and professional qualifications obtained abroad,

and by encouraging the rapid reintegration of workers in their countries of origin.