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The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council and the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office have today released a jointly authored Position Paper on the phenomenon of 'people smuggling'.

The paper is critical of punitive measures against those who arrive in Australia without authority in order to seek asylum, and calls for an expanded humanitarian program to provide more places within Australia's immigration program for those who are forced to flee desperate situations.

In this year's Message for World Migration Day, Pope John Paul II highlights the plight of displaced people:

Every day thousands of people take even  critical risks in their attempts to escape from a life with no future.  Unfortunately, the reality they find in host nations is frequently a source of further disappointment.

At the same time, States with a relative abundance tend to tighten their borders under pressure from a public opinion disturbed by the inconveniences that accompany the phenomena of immigration.  Society finds itself having to deal with the ‘clandestine’, men and women in illegal situations, without any rights in a country that refuses to welcome them, victims of organized crime or of unscrupulous entrepreneurs.

Welcoming strangers is part of the Church's rich Jubilee tradition.  Through their paper the ACSJC and ACMRO challenge the Australian Catholic community to respond to the Great Jubilee by welcoming those who arrive on our shores seeking asylum.