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Pope Francis during a general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican / Photo: © Vatican Radio on Facebook

Pope Francis calls for regularisation of undocumented migrants

Pope Francis has said undocumented migrants working as farmhands in Italy should be granted legal status. The pontiff was responding to a request from a union representing farm workers, asking him to comfort and encourage workers in the midst of the coronavirus emergency.

Pope Francis has expressed his desire for the legalisation of undocumented immigrants exploited as farmhands amid the coronavirus emergency. In a letter dated 28 April, the pontiff agreed that it was necessary “to meet the needs of those who, deprived of dignity, feel acutely the consequences of an integration that has not taken place and are now more exposed to the dangers of the pandemic.” He was writing in response to a letter from the Fai Cisl union representing workers in the agricultural food sector.

The pope went on to say that their situation should be “regularised so that the rights and duties of each worker is recognised” and to “combat illegality, the plight of the gang-master system and the insurgence of conflicts between disadvantaged people.”

A hostel for undocumented African farm workers near Calibri. Thousands of African labourers are employed in Italy’s agricultural sector and they’re often exploited and have to live in squalid conditions / Photo: Screenshot/ITN

 

The letter was sent to Fai Cisl by the Vatican on behalf of the pope. The confederation had written to the pontiff asking him to comfort and to encourage workers employed in agriculture and the food industry and to highlight the importance of the legalisation of undocumented immigrants.

Risk of a war between the poor

In the letter sent to the pope, the union said that during the coronavirus emergency “food has continued to arrive on our tables, also thanks to the work carried out by these people; today, this contradiction threatens to explode with huge consequences, especially given the healthcare emergency.”

This situation could create “new wars between the poor and represents a real threat for everybody, especially foreign farmhands,” Fai Cisl said. “Courage is needed to decide on … regularisation, which we have long promoted, in order to legalise those who work off the books, and recognise the rights and duties of many immigrants who are on the margins of society. The theme has been avoided for a long time, now the consequences are emerging in all their gravity due to coronavirus, amid the risk posed by the pandemic, new opportunities for gang-masters and the lack of manpower.”

Pope is close to workers

The letter of reply from the Vatican said the pope was close to the many workers in the sector who are working hard, “with no few risks and difficulties,” to provide necessary food products to the community. “The pope remembers them in his prayers, while he carries in his heart the painful situation of farmhands from various countries who are relegated to the margins of society and who endure conditions of unacceptable exploitation.”

© ANSA/InfoMigrants

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