From Jan. 5-11 this year, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates National Migration Week. With the theme “Promoting a Church and a World for All,” the week has been a time for us to reflect on the need to be inclusive and welcoming to all our brothers and sisters. It is a call for unity and a command to stand in solidarity with and care for those who are excluded and marginalized around the world.

Never has this imperative been more important than now, when more than 70 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced from their homes due to political instability, violence, poverty, and other life-threatening reasons – and when our political climate has grown increasingly hostile to people from other countries and cultures.

As we begin a new year and a new decade, I pray for the many families and individuals who have left their homes to search for a better future in a new country – often facing a perilous journey to an adopted homeland where their new neighbors may not welcome them.

With 2 million immigrants in New Jersey – many in mixed-status families – the Garden State can be the safe haven they seek.

There have been big, positive strides toward this, legislatively and administratively, such as the recently passed state law expanding driver’s license access to undocumented immigrants (and others) and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s Immigrant Trust Directive limiting local law enforcement’s cooperation with immigration agents to enforce deportation (except when someone has been charged with a serious crime).

But we must do more to change the conversation about immigration. Immigrants fleeing violence and instability in their home countries want the same things you and I do – a better future. They don’t deserve the discrimination and suspicion many encounter in their everyday lives. They shouldn’t have their families broken apart – possibly permanently and often with irreversible impact on their mental health – because of a broken immigration system.

In this increasingly global society, we must work hard to end what Pope Francis calls the “globalization of indifference,” which has led so many people to ignore the cries of the poor, turn their backs on the marginalized, and remain indifferent to those struggling to find a better life.

Let us set aside our prejudices and recognize that when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. We must welcome, protect, promote, and integrate immigrants into our communities – but above all else, we must be compassionate.

Marlene Laó-Collins is executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton. The nonprofit provides poverty-reduction, behavioral health, and family strengthening services – including for the immigration community. Catholic Charities of Trenton serves more than 100,000 people, regardless of religious affiliation or ability to pay, in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties.