Catholic Think-Tanks Publish Research on the Future of Work for Migrants

Geneva, 25 March 2020 - Three think-tanks that are part of the network of Scalabrini Migration Study Centers and the Scalabrini International Migration Network have just released a series of research papers commissioned by the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). The research is part of the “The Future of Work, Labour After Laudato Sì” initiative, a global effort inspired and guided by to Pope Francis’ second encyclical.

The introductory paper, authored by Donald Kerwin, Executive Director of the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS), examines the moral and ethical principles that should govern the future of work and international migration. Titled “International Migration and Work: Charting an Ethical Approach to the Future,” the paper draws on academic literature, case studies, international law, the recently adopted Global Compacts for Migration and on Refugees and Catholic social thought. 

The Scalabrini Migration Center in the Philippines (SMC) carried out two ambitious studies. The first, “Out at Sea, Out of Sight: Southeast Asian Fishermen on Taiwanese Fishing Vessels,” is based on a series of interviews with migrant fishermen.  In the report, SMC identified significant gaps in their protection and elements of human trafficking.

SMC’s second research paper, entitled “Sowing Hope: Agriculture as an Alternative to Migration for Young Filipinos?” explores programs that seek to make agriculture a viable career for young adults in the Philippines, who might otherwise emigrate. The study found that Filipinos would be more likely to make agriculture their livelihood if they viewed it as a profitable, well-supported, modern and a socially valuable career.

“Young people are introducing innovations in agriculture in the Philippines,” said Dr. Marla Asis, Executive Director of SMC. “They are seeds of hope for our future.”

The Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA) released an exhaustive report about the impact of work and labor policy on the circumstances of migrants, including refugees and asylum-seekers, in Cape Town, South Africa. Many of those surveyed worked in the most unregulated and exploitative sectors of the economy and endured xenophobia and violence.

“What is most precious and significant,” said Fr. Filippo Ferraro, “is that among the many lines of writing, the abundance of figures, data and tables, a voice emerges with strength and clarity. It is the voice of those who left their country for various reasons, seeking hospitality, safety and better living conditions for themselves and their loved ones”. “The lens of this report on the daily struggles and future hopes of these people validates [its] recommendations.”

The research papers were first presented at the meeting of the ICMC Asia-Oceania Working Group and the High-Level Regional Conference on the “Future of Work” held in Bangkok, Thailand in December 2019.  As part of efforts to generate discussions and map out action plans toward just policies and good practices, the three centers have now published the reports.

“ICMC has been a leader in welcoming, protecting and integrating migrants,” said Mr. Kerwin. “Their vision informed these reports and their support made this important work possible.”

“We are confident that the research work conducted by CMS, SMC and SIHMA will contribute to creating fair migration policies that align with the Catholic Church’s vision of solidarity with workers, of promoting decent work for all, and of upholding the dignity of every human being,” said ICMC’s Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo.

The Future of Work, Labour After Laudato Sì is a global project that facilitates the contribution of Catholic-inspired and other faith-based organizations to the implementation of Pope Francis’ Laudato Sì encyclical in the world of work. It focuses on the labor market and on dialogue with employers and with workers’ organizations.

Coordinated by ICMC, the project brings together Christian business associations, international movements, local communities, Conferences of Catholic Bishops, Jesuit Social Centers and universities and organizations from other religious traditions. ICMC also led the The Future of Work, Labour After Laudato Sì research track on labor migration.