Capacity Building & Research

ICMC played a leading role in identifying strategies for a decent, dignified world of work, and in designing pathways to harness labor migration for development and to integrate migrant trafficking survivors.

Photo: Migrant children in a slum in Bangalore, India, where a Jesuit organization provides assistance. Advocacy work led to a school being opened, but living conditions remain poor, with no running water, electricity, or sanitation. © Christian Tasso/ICMC

Improving Migration and Development in West Africa

In October, ICMC Europe, together with partners, launched nine roadmaps that outline actionable steps on migration-related Sustainable Development Goals in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The roadmaps were the culmination of the three-year MADE (Migration and Development) West Africa program coordinated by ICMC Europe. They present a whole-of-society approach to improved human mobility and development in the region.

Country roadmaps in English for Ghana and Sierra Leone detail concrete actions to harness the benefits of intra-regional migration for development. Two other frameworks in French propose paths to better protection of migrant workers’ rights in Guinea and Senegal.

Four further country-specific roadmaps focus on strengthening the West African diaspora’s contribution to development in their countries of origin — available in English for Ghana and Sierra Leone, and in French for Burkina Faso and Togo.

Building on input from those affected directly by migration, each roadmap includes short, medium, and long-term commitments, and designates responsible partners and expected outcomes.

The ninth roadmap shows how learnings on human mobility, migration protection, and development from the multi-stakeholder MADE West Africa program can inform regional responses to the pandemic and rebuilding post-COVID-19.

We can’t just ‘go back’ to the world before COVID-19. The [project] lessons learned are crucial not just in recovering from the pandemic, but also for building a better reality for migrants and communities.

Abigail Maristela, MADE West Africa project coordinator, ICMC Europe project officer

For A Caring World of Work

In 2020, the ICMC-coordinated project The Future of Work, Labour After Laudato Sì concluded three years of in-depth research into the evolving labor market and migration. In collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the initiative explored how to develop a more person-centered world of work. The Future of Work brought together Catholic-inspired and other faith-based organizations, civil society groups, local communities, Christian business associations, and universities in the spirit of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sì (On Care for Our Common Home).

In November, ICMC launched two publications in print and web formats to showcase findings of The Future of Work research track under its coordination — “jobs, demography, and migration.” The comprehensive report Towards a Better World presents perspectives, primary and secondary research, and best practices that explore different facets of labor migration and show ways Catholic and other faith-inspired organizations are serving migrant workers across the globe. It includes a reflection on the migration-related impacts — and opportunities for positive change — of the global pandemic. 

The photojournalism book Driven by the Depth of Love puts a human face on the migration journey, with portraits of more than 75 migrants in India, the Ivory Coast, Mexico, and the United States who talk about their experiences, challenges, and hopes for the future. Introductory sections provide contextual information and a closer look at the phenomenon of migration.

Migrants, if empowered to do so, can make far greater contributions to host communities. They can become ‘agents of their own development.’

Donald J. Kerwin, Center for Migration Studies (USA), in Towards a Better World

ICMC also was engaged in the publication of Care Is Work, Work Is Care in December, which presents consolidated results of all seven research tracks of The Future of Work initiative. The outcomes report stresses that a future of decent, dignified work fostering human development is linked inextricably to care for our common home — the beings that inhabit it and the environment itself.

On 15 December, ICMC facilitated a webinar to launch the outcomes report and to consider possible next steps. Panelists highlighted the need to include unpaid and informal work in the concept of labor, to take into account the impact of increased automation, to view environmental degradation as a work-related hazard, and to change the paradigm that views protection of jobs and of workers as opposing concerns.

Participants in the webinar emphasized that, to build a world of work capable of caring in the pandemic era, the focus must be not only on what to change, but also on who can be agents of change and how to develop global communities of transformation.

Designing Pathways to Integration

ICMC Europe and seven faith-based partners capped off the Right Way research project in 2020 by launching comprehensive tools to support the integration of survivors of sex trafficking in Europe. Initiated in 2019 with a range of Catholic anti-trafficking organizations, the ICMC-coordinated Right Way project worked to develop person-centered, holistic pathways involving migrants and host communities in a two-way integration process.

ICMC Europe co-published the Right Way handbook in four languages on 18 October, the EU Anti-Trafficking Day. Building on multi-country research, the extensive guide looks at experiences of female Nigerian trafficking survivors in Italy, summarizes relevant legislation, and highlights survivors’ needs and potential integration hurdles. It maps out services that NGOs, governmental agencies, and communities can offer to facilitate integration, such as psychological support, vocational training, and awareness raising, and illustrates these with best practice examples. Rooted in an empowerment perspective, the handbook aims to give survivors agency in their own lives in moving from recovery to autonomy.

ICMC Europe co-launched an online tool to complement the Right Way handbook. The interactive tool is based on the four phases of the integration journey outlined in the guide. It maps out survivor and host community roles in identifying trafficking, restoring the rights of survivors, building recovery, and achieving autonomy.

ICMC Europe Right Way project report details integration research and practice, and EU laws regarding sex trafficking survivors.
Seven pilot projects were conducted by ICMC Europe partners to trial the Right Way integration model in Italy.

In November, ICMC Europe co-organized a webinar to present the handbook and further results of research during the two years of the Right Way project. Panelists noted the importance of integration being person-centered if it is to succeed, with strategies tailored to a migrant survivor’s cultural background and a focus on building relationships of trust. Speakers focused on how the project proposes an anti-trafficking approach that goes beyond responding to immediate needs to breaking cycles of violence through empowerment and mentoring.

Further, the webinar highlighted how COVID-19 has increased the vulnerability of trafficked people and those at risk of trafficking. Panelists stressed the need for rapid, personalized responses given the higher risk of isolation and the economic impact of prostitution moving online. They also urged greater cooperation between European countries to address the transnational problem of human trafficking.

When I left Nigeria, my dream was to find a good job and to work to help my family. I am the first child, and I have three younger sisters and my father and mother [in Nigeria].

Joy, a survivor forced into prostitution in Italy by the smuggling ring that brought her to Europe, speaking during the Right Way webinar


Forming Immigrant Leaders

The Hispanic community in the United States is growing. By 2030, its numbers are expected to double to over 80 million, topping 106 million by the middle of the century. These immigrant communities make up the U.S. Catholic Church’s largest-growing demographic — and its most under served. A rapid decline in the number of priests and religious has left many of its 4,000 Hispanic parishes under-resourced in the face of challenges such as unjust immigration policies, discrimination, and legal status barriers.

In response, the Archdiocese of Chicago, which has 130 parishes with Hispanic congregations, launched Pastoral Migratoria to build the capacity of immigrants to serve as lay leaders in their own communities. Created in 2008, the ministry has become known in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as a “best practice for immigrant leadership development and missionary discipleship,” says Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago.

Candidates for the lay ministry follow a six-week leadership training curriculum founded on Catholic Social Teaching and rooted in an Aparecida methodology of listening-learning-proclaiming (seeing-judging-acting). Each of the modules explores a foundational principle and ties in with an issue that immigrant communities are facing. The aim is to form pastoral agents who help both to meet immediate needs and work for deeper systemic change.   

Pastoral Migratoria has trained and commissioned more than 200 Hispanic lay leaders in 40 parishes in the Archdiocese and has given rise to a similar formation ministry in Polish immigrant parishes.

“Despite all the difficulties, I feel that my home is here in Chicago. There are always sacrifices throughout life. Even if we are not naturalized and it is not my country, it is my home. That’s how I feel and God willing, we will stay here.” —Photo: Migrant community leader and member of Pastoral Migratoria. Source: Christian Tasso, Driven by the Depth of Love.

Pastoral Migratoria leaders walk with immigrant families, helping them access pastoral care, and legal and social services. They lead workshops and provide resources on key issues for immigrant communities such as workers’ rights, deportation, and anti-fraud action. They collaborate across sectors to bring needed services to local immigrant communities. And they help plan and run advocacy initiatives to drive comprehensive immigration reform.

An important focus for Pastoral Migratoria in 2020 was to ensure that immigrant leaders could make use of digital tools to support their communities during the pandemic, says Elena Segura, the Archdiocese’s senior coordinator for immigration. Through these trainings, immigrant ministers were able to create virtual community spaces for prayer, solving problems, and passing on information.

Pastoral Migratoria is sparking keen interest in Catholic immigrant communities across the nation. The Archdiocese started a five-year pilot project in 2017 to support nine dioceses or parishes looking to launch the formation program and promote immigrant leadership integration. In 2020 this included an online national Pastoral Migratoria institute.