Darien Gap
Migrants crossing the Darien Gap AFP

Pope Francis advocated for increased migration to the U.S., saying in an interview that the country has to "open the door" to the increased arrival of people to its borders. "(Immigration) makes a country grow," he told CBS News' 60 minutes.

The pope's stance came as he was told the national conversation was moving toward a larger crackdown, with President Joe Biden implementing new measures aimed at increasing the number of people it can turn down at the border as the issue becomes an electoral liability for Democrats.

"For an immigration policy to be good, it must have four things: for the migrant to be received, assisted, promoted and integrated. This is what is most important, to integrate them into the new life," Francis said.

However, the U.S. is already seeing the effects of the increased enforcement, with border encounters dropping significantly this year and a decreasing trend even as crossings tend to pick up in the spring.

There were fewer than 129,000 arrests in April at the national level, compared to 137,480 in March. It's also almost half of the almost 250,000 recorded in December, according to U.S. Customs and Border protection.

In another passage of the interview, the pope also criticized Texas officials' efforts to shut down Annunciation House, a Catholic charity that helps undocumented migrants seeking to reach the United States. "That is madness, sheer madness to close the border and leave them there. That is madness. The migrant has to be received. Thereafter, you see how you're going to deal with them. Maybe after you send them back, I don't know. But each case ought to be considered humanely, right?" he said.

"This type of accusation puts fear into the hearts of anyone who generously gives of their time because of the Christian concern for people who are truly the poorest of the poor among us."

The pontiff also spoke about climate change being a factor driving people to migrate, saying that the world has gotten to a "point of no return." "It's sad but it is what it is," he added, also criticizing wealthy countries "in great measure" for the having reached the current situation. He put the focus on having energy policies still focused on fossil fuels.

Asked about his opinion on those who deny climate change and its effects, the pontiff said that they are "foolish people" who "will not believe even if you show them the statistics."

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