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Thursday, March 30, 2017
Launch of TELCO's 'Strangers into Citizens' campaign
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¬†Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has joined the Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford Rt Rev John Gladwin, and London's mayor to support a new campaign calling for thousands of 'irregular' migrants working in London to be given legal rights. 'Strangers into Citizens' was launched last Thursday at a packed rally in York Hall, Bethnal Green, by TELCO, the UK's largest and most diverse citizens' organisation. The rally of more than 40 churches, mosques, trade unions and community groups which make up the East London-based alliance was celebrating TELCO's 10th anniversary. Congratulations arrived by video and letter from Tony Blair, David Cameron, and assorted church leaders and businessmen. During the Assembly 'ghosts' of East London's past appeared in order to hold to account today's East Londoners for their commitment to justice. The ghosts include the suffragette, Sylvia Pankhurst; Cardinal Manning, who brokered the Great Dock Strike of 1886; the "match Girls" Annie Besant and Sally O'Brien; and George Lansbury, the Poplar Councillor imprisoned for refusing to implement a tax on the poor of East London. Spirits of migrants past and present who have sought and found refuge in east London over the centuries ≠ among them a Spanish Jew fleeing the Inquisition, an Irish family fleeing the famine, Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka in the 1970s, and Bangladeshis escaping poverty ≠ appeared at the end of the rally to launch the "Strangers into Citizens" campaign. The campaign is asking for migrant workers who meet certain eligibility criteria ≠ proficiency in English, community ties, no criminal record ≠ to be offered a two-year "pathway to citizenship" as the best means of securing their human rights. Cardinal Cormac said, via video: "Last May, when, with my brother London bishops, I celebrated a Mass for Migrant Workers at Westminster Cathedral, I was very aware at that event of the spirit of my Victorian predecessor, Cardinal Manning. Cardinal Manning, as some of you will know, played a crucial role in the Great Dock Strike of 1889. He spoke up for the Irish immigrants who at that time played such a vital part in the expansion of London's economy and society, but who often faced rejection by society and exploitation at the hands of employers. Today we have another great influx - of tens of thousands of workers from across the world, of all languages and faiths, who have come to Britain in search of a security, a better life, a new home. Many of them face very similar challenges and threats as did those of a past era. So I'm delighted that the churches and mosques and communities who form TELCO see in them our brothers and sisters, and are helping them to claim those rights. The Catholic Church, along with other churches and faiths, teaches that all migrants, documented or undocumented, have rights which must be respected. In my homily last May I said that we should consider ways in which some of the undocumented migrants may be assisted to full citizenship; and I am delighted that your "Strangers into Citizens" campaign will be helping to bring this issue to public attention. Source: TELCO
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