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April 24, 2023

Human Dignity and the Migration Crisis at the U.S. Southern Border

Responses and Responsibilities

Showing the Human Dignity and the Migration Crisis at the U.S. Southern Border Video

The humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border has been visible for decades, but it has now reached an unprecedented level of urgency. Political unrest, ecological disasters, economic deprivation, and intensifying violence have resulted in accelerated levels of irregular migration. Various challenges to asylum access imposed by both the Trump and Biden administrations have left thousands of asylum seekers stranded in border cities or attempting risky crossings in remote areas and relying on organized crime groups to smuggle them. These situations, Pope Francis says, happen when “humanity as a whole loses its bearings”; they are a sign that “we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others.”

This timely Latino Leader Gathering examined the moral and human costs of a broken status quo on immigration policy and what obstacles and opportunities exist to build a new approach that upholds human dignity and advances the common good. Four leaders with differing experiences, expertise, and perspectives explored how past and current policies have failed and discussed where we need to go in light of Catholic social teaching and our nation’s values to, as Pope Francis has said, “welcome, protect, promote and integrate” migrants and refugees.

This gathering had three parts:

6:00 - 7:00 p.m. | Happy Hour
Mingle with fellow young leaders over food and drink

7:00 - 8:00 p.m. | Latino Leaders Gathering 
A dialogue and conversation on “Human Dignity and the Migration Crisis at the U.S. Southern Border”

8:00 - 9:00 p.m. | Reception
Continue the conversation with the participants and other young leaders over food and drink

The participants addressed questions such as:

  • What are the moral implications and human costs of specific U.S. action, or inaction, in response to the migration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border?

  • What have been the major challenges to asylum laws in recent years, and how have they affected people who are migrating to the United States? 

  • How has large-scale migration from Latin America changed norms and understandings of the right to asylum and its role in U.S. immigration law and policy? What is the future of this right and of the responsibilities of institutions? What needs to change?

  • How should faith, particularly Catholic social teaching, shape our assessment of current policies and the search for new and better policies?

  • What is the role of race in all of this? How do race and class factor into the dehumanization of migrants in policymaking and in public attitudes?

  • What are the greatest challenges to making effective immigration policy? How can we center policy conversations on the human elements and costs of this situation?

Kim Daniels, director of the Initiative, moderated the conversation.


View articles, statements, and other resources for this gathering.

This Latino Leader Gathering was for young Latino Catholics and others to explore key issues and personal stories involving faith and public life with distinguished Latinos and other leaders. This gathering was co-sponsored by the Religion and the Crisis of Displaced Persons Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and the Migration and Refugee Policy Initiative (MRPI), a student group at Georgetown.


Ligia Gomez

Ligia Gomez

Ligia Gomez, who is seeking asylum in the U.S. after fleeing Nicaragua and advocates for others who have recently migrated, opened the gathering by sharing her experience. 

Andrea Flores

Andrea Flores

Andrea Flores is chief counsel to Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and has worked in both the Biden and Obama administrations in leading roles on immigration policy. She is the former deputy director of policy for the ACLU’s Equality Division, with a focus on immigration advocacy.

Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Camilo Montoya-Galvez is an immigration reporter with CBS News where he covers U.S. immigration policy, the contentious debate over the issue, and the human stories of those affected by a sprawling and complex system.

Beatriz Ortiz

Beatriz Ortiz

Beatriz Ortiz is an immigration staff attorney at Ayuda, a non-profit that facilitates the provision of direct legal, social, and language services for low-income immigrants in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

Bishop Mark Seitz

Bishop Mark Seitz

Bishop Mark Seitz is the bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas. In January 2023, Bishop Seitz released a statement on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops committee on migration that criticized the Biden administration’s immigration policy. He then met with President Joe Biden in El Paso.