For the Jews Passover is the annual celebration of the escape from bondage in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. The story contains an important message about freedom and by implication about the right to migrate.
At the Passover Seder Jews celebrate the escape from Egypt. According to the story, after years of struggle, including some pretty serious plagues on the Egyptians, Pharaoh gave in and “let our people go.” After 40 years of wandering in the desert the Jews fought their way into Israel and settled in the Promised Land. The story is one of a move from economic and social repression to freedom.
The parallel to the current migration of Mexicans and others to the United States is obvious but not perfect.
In the Passover legend the constraint on the Jews moving was the Pharaoh. In the present case the obstacle to migration is the receiving country, the United States. However the idea of people desiring to leave a place with little freedom and opportunity and moving to a place with more freedom and opportunity is the same in both stories.
We can learn two lessons from this short analogy. First migrations will happen. Water flows downhill, King Canute could not stop the waves and people will seek opportunities for themselves and their children. Nations can slow this flow but they cannot stop it.
Second history will favor the freedom seekers and curse those who try to stop peoples march toward freedom.
The Passover story begins with these lines: “This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry - let them come and eat. All who are needy – let them come and celebrate the Passover with us.” At Passover we are told to welcome all peoples into our community and to share our freedom with them. It is time to move over and give our neighbors a place at the table.