March 7, 2021

The episcopate of Panama asks for an immigration law that respects the rights of all

Panamanian bishops called on Monday that Panama adopt "human and respectful" immigration laws on the rights of all who live in the country, in a statement expressing their "concern" about the tone in which this issue is debated in some sectors of society

In a letter signed by the Panamanian Episcopal Conference (CEP), the prelates recalled Francisco's words in which the pope warns about "the resurgence, in almost all parts of the world, of aggressive currents towards foreigners, especially immigrants," and They stressed that "migrants are not a threat."

Migrants "are people who are looking for better living conditions because of forced displacement, human trafficking, violence, poverty, political persecution and terrorism. We cannot hold them responsible for the social ills that affect us as a country," they said. the bishops

"We are aware of the need for a comprehensive immigration policy of the Panamanian state, which respects the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees," said the Catholic leaders.

To do this, they added, "an analysis based on official data, on the revision of current laws and decrees on migration, is necessary to adopt migratory public policies that guarantee peace, solidarity with the helpless, security and mutual respect between all the inhabitants of our country. "

The Panamanian Episcopate has pronounced this way after the unicameral Parliament agreed to discuss a legislative draft that hardens the conditions for the permanence of foreigners in the country and that was presented by the official deputy Zulay Rodríguez with a fiery speech marked as xenophobic.

"Our country has historically been a transit country, made up of migrations, some forced and others encouraged by the search for a better quality of life. Panama has always kept its arms open to receive people from all over the world and this spirit of solidarity and fraternity must be strengthened, especially at this time, "the bishops said.

The Panamanian president, the social democrat Laurentino Cortizo, of the historic Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), has said that the government that presides since July 1 for a period of 5 years will soon present a "consensual immigration reform that helps the development of the country ".

Deputy Rodriguez, who lost the presidential nomination of the PRD against Cortizo in an inmate, presented several times without success during the Government of Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019) the initiative to reform immigration policy.

The speech with which Rodriguez has presented these initiatives has been branded as xenophobia by various local sectors, while others have applauded him.

The Panamanian Vice President, José Gabriel Carrizo, has said that the Government will face the migration issue as a State policy that "without provocation of rejection, hatred, without discrimination, understanding that all countries, most civilized countries, have politics immigration to control who stays and who leaves. "

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