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In 2000, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared December 18th to be International Migrants Day, to encourage member nations to ratify the UN Convention on Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers (adopted December 18, 1990). The UN estimates that close to 200 million migrants currently live outside the borders of their native countries. However, hardly any “destination countries” are among the 42 signatories to the UN Convention after nearly twenty years; among the non-signatories are the U.S., Canada, the entire European Union, Australia, China, India, Israel, Russia, and all of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. In 2002, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC observed International Migrants Day by calling on the United States and Canada to “fulfill the Biblical mandate of hospitality to the stranger” by refusing, despite the 9/11 attacks, to allow “discrimination, fear, and xenophobia to influence our treatment of immigrants.”
“When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” —Leviticus 19:33-34
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.