Immigration, Law, and the Bible

immigration-law-bible

The immigration issue is more than just listing a bunch of bible verses, dropping the mic, and walking away in your self-righteousness. Because the Bible also says to follow the law.

I’m not going to list all the definitions about being kind to strangers. You’ve already been bombarded with them in every pro-immigration story on the ‘net. What I’m going to do is provide the opposing view to the immigration problem, which is also supported biblically, and I argue, more completely since it takes in both sides of the issue.

We also have to keep in mind that the laws were different in Biblical time, as well as the borders. When Mary and Joseph fled Israel for Egypt1, they left one Roman province for another Roman province. Was this considered moving from one country to another, such as a move from Mexico to the US? Probably not. It would be more like moving from Guam to the US mainland where you have a US citizen relocating from one territory to another. If Guam starting sinking, would those moving to the mainland be refugees (forced out by natural disaster)?

The important thing to note here, is that the border situations were different then, and the laws regarding refugees were different. When Jesus, Mary, and Joseph wound up in Egypt, they were not there illegally. And to the best of our knowledge, there weren’t people slipping in among them who weren’t going to conform to Egypt’s way of life, or trying to destroy it. I’m guessing they didn’t slip in the back door, and if they had to register with someone, I’m certain they did it. They also probably tried to blend in. In other words, they probably conformed to society as best they could, instead of trying to make Egyptians conform to them.

Definitions

When Jesus, Mary and Joseph went to Egypt, they became what many call refugees. This alone is enough for some people to say we’re not doing enough. So, first, let’s talk about the definitions of some words we find in the Bible, as well as a some in common use today.

Sojourner

someone who resides temporarily in a place.

The vast majority of illegal aliens that come here, are not here temporarily and have no intention of being here temporarily. Bible verses regarding sojourners do not apply to them.

The term would apply to Jesus, Mary and Joseph when they were forced to flee their home and move to Egypt. They had no intention of living in Egypt permanently, therefore, they were sojourners.

Refugee

a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

What does forced mean? It means they didn’t want to leave, they had no choice. This is not true with most of the immigrants coming across the border from Mexico. They are leaving of their own free will.

There is no war, persecution, or natural disaster occurring to the south of the U.S. What is occurring is poverty and violence associated with criminals, organized or other. The definition of refugee is specific, and based on that definition, the vast majority of those coming across the southern border of the U.S. are not refugees. Calling them refugees is deceptive.

Jesus and His family met the basic definition of a refugee. They were forced to leave; they didn’t want to. They were targeted by Herod. All children under two became the target of persecution with the ultimate goal of killing Jesus specifically. They were forced to flee, which by definition, makes Jesus, Mary, and Joseph refugees when they went to Egypt.

The definition for Jesus and his family becomes sticky when we refer to the part of the definition that says: leave their country. As mentioned earlier, when you’re moving from one Roman jurisdiction to another, are you leaving your country?

Foreigner

a person born in or coming from a country other than one’s own.

To be clear, there are two types of foreigners: legal and illegal. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were foreigners living in Egypt, and I think it’s safe to assume, they were there legally.

Stranger

a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.

A stranger is anyone you don’t know. They don’t have to be a foreigner, and they don’t have to be here illegally. Interestingly enough, a foreigner doesn’t have to be a stranger. I’ve met people from other countries, and if they came to visit, they would be foreigners, but they would not be strangers. Actually, I’d love them to come here and visit, so I could show them around.

Alien

belonging to a foreign country or nation.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were aliens when they were living in Egypt.

So, by the way, are the people who are in this country illegally. They meet this definition since they are not U.S. Citizens, they belong to a foreign country or nation.

Illegal alien

a foreign national who is living without authorization in a country of which they are not a citizen.

As mentioned earlier, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph most likely had authorization to live in Egypt. We don’t know what the laws were, and they may have not been as complex as what we have today, but I can’t imagine the Son of God moved to another country and violated the law.

By the way, undocumented immigrants are foreign nationals living here without authorization; they are not citizens of this country; they are here illegally. The media is remiss for not using the proper term.

Immigrant

a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were not immigrants. They did not, and had no intention on living in Egypt permanently.

Illegal immigration

“the illegal entry of a person or a group of persons across a country’s border, in a way that violates the immigration laws of the destination country, with the intention to remain in the country, as well as people who remain living in another country when they do not have the legal right to do so.2

Again, I think it’s safe to assume that they didn’t cross the border into Egypt in a way that violated immigration laws, if they even had any. They probably took the road, and the shortest one they could find.

Costs and Consequences

Risks of Crossing

The number of people who die, compared to the number of people who cross, is relatively low3, however, we can do better. The best way to do this is deterrence: get people to stop trying. While deterrence appears to have cut down on the number of people trying to make the trek, the number of deaths rose slightly, possibly because people are taking riskier routes. This should not be an argument to stop deterrence, but an argument to increase deterrence from illegal means.

Cost to the Taxpayer

Federal and State governments spend an enormous amount of money on illegal aliens when it comes to education, medical costs, justice expenditures, and welfare programs. As of 2016, FAIR estimated this cost to be $134 billion. To be fair, they also estimated that illegal aliens contributed about $18 billion, meaning that illegal immigrants cost the American taxpayer around $116 billion4. In addition, a recent estimate shows that there may be a fiscal net drain of $74,722 over the lifetime of each illegal alien5.

Cost of Enforcement

Since 1986, the federal government has spent $263 billion on immigration enforcement6, and it’s still a disaster. It is quite obvious that the current methods of deterrence are not working because people are still risking their lives, and the lives of their families, to come into this country illegally.

Crime and Prisons

Our prison system is full of illegal immigrants. 1 in 5 prisoners are aliens, and nearly 95% of those are here illegally. If my math is right, that means 19% of those incarcerated in American prisons are illegal immigrants7. Even if illegal immigrants don’t commit crimes at higher rates than native-born citizens, they shouldn’t be in our prisons because they’re aren’t supposed to be here in the first place!

The MS-13 surge that began in 2012 due to weak immigration enforcement can be directly related to the Obama administration8. MS-13 recruits members by preying on unaccompanied alien children.

Certain types of immigrants are more likely to commit violent crimes than others9. It’s a fact that many simply don’t want to accept, but even if it weren’t, it’s the government’s job to make sure that crime does not go up when allowing immigrants into the country.

Resources

Much of the discussion about immigration revolves around money, but immigrants use things other than money; they use physical resources.

We complain about a shortage of water, but we want to bring in more people? We want to have open borders. What effect do you think that would have on the water supply in the United States, especially when our border states are already suffering from severe droughts.

They will require more food, and they will produce more waste. We will need more jobs, and while the job market is growing, the jobs aren’t paying enough. So let’s bring more people in to take jobs that don’t pay enough. Is there enough housing, or will we have more tent cities going up? And we all know how safe tent cities are right?

Illegal immigration only exacerbates the issue.

Managing Immigration

Who Gets To Manage?

Immigration is a complex problem, and it’s not as simple as opening up the borders and letting everyone in. The country doesn’t have the resources to handle the influx, which is why the government needs to control the amount of people coming in, and quite frankly, it’s easier when it knows how many are coming in and can manage the growth of the country along with the growth of the population. Like it or not, the two go hand in hand.

“In Romans 13:4, Paul writes about civil government and states, “For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.10

So, who should manage this? The states? While I certainly believe in states rights, I believe the power to determine the requirements for be a U.S. Citizen lies with the U.S. Government, just as the states get to determine the rights of state citizenship. I also believe that it is the Federal Government’s job, and responsibility, to manage immigration and it’s borders11. It’s also the law. There is nothing unjust about saying, you can come here, but we have set up rules in order to do this in an orderly fashion.

Asylum

There are hundreds of thousands of people trying to legally gain asylum in the United States and the backlog runs years12. If we didn’t put so many resources into combating illegal immigration, maybe we could redirect some of that towards the legal immigrants. Opening the borders isn’t that answer, because it’s a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands who are going about the process legally.

But a country that doesn’t follow its own laws, has to be questioned when it comes to justice. A government who doesn’t enforce its own laws, is being lax in its responsibilities. How does it determine what laws to follow and which ones not to follow. It doesn’t. A just government follows all the laws, until unjust laws are changed.

The government, in my opinion, seems to be in a very just position with regards to its immigration policies considering some of the logistics I have covered. That doesn’t mean it can’t do some things better, but I believe it’s doing the best it can with the resources it has. It’s simply overwhelmed.

Individual Responsibility

Let every person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God’s appointment. Therefore he who resists and sets himself up against the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged [in divine order]. And those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves [receiving the penalty due them]. (Romans 13:1-2 AMP)

Christians are instructed to obey the law. It’s not your decision to decide that you’re not going to disobey just laws enacted by the government. There is nothing wrong with wanting to vet people who are coming here, and limiting the number of people that are coming here.

There’s this argument that the laws of the U.S. Government are somehow unjust, and it’s the Christian duty to oppose them, and even break them. Given the complexity of the situation, and the overwhelming numbers, I feel that they are perfectly justified in their position, more so than the previous administration who didn’t execute the law. A government that doesn’t obey its own laws isn’t a just government, it’s a tyrannical government.

It is a violation of law to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, illegal aliens. It is a violation of law to hire them.

It is also a felony to encourage or induce an alien to come to or reside in the U.S. knowing or recklessly disregarding the fact that the alien’s entry or residence is in violation of the law13.

Despite this, states, cities, churches, and individuals, continue to knowingly break the law to protect others who are breaking the law.

It is the Christian’s responsibility to obey the law.

So, where does love fit into this?

Should we treat foreigners, refugees, and sojourner’s with love? Of course! But when the Bible talks about these people, does it mean ALL of them? While I would argue yes, it’s doesn’t say that we have to open the borders and let them flood in. It certainly doesn’t say ignore the laws that you’ve decided are mean.

How does this work practically? If you’re here illegally, I’ll give you some food at the same I call the authorities, and if I don’t trust the local authorities because I fear they’ll provide sactuary, I’ll call ICE myself.

See, that’s the thing. You have to do BOTH, and that’s what most Christians can’t seem to get a grip of. It’s one or the other, so they choose the easy way because it makes them feel good.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the US Government has its hands full. It’s overwhelmed by a problem that many Christians are only making worse.

The government’s control of the borders are a God given responsibility, and there’s nothing unjust about saying, you can come here, but we have set up rules in order to do this in an orderly fashion. I would argue that it’s their God given duty to do things in an orderly fashion.

There’s nothing just about contributing to lawlessness. Aiding and abetting criminals, and that is what these people are, no matter how you try to wriggle out with word play, or soften the harsh, realistic, legal language: illegal alien. There are repercussions for breaking the law, breaking statutes, breaking regulations; some harsher than others.

How can the Christian defend the immigrant who comes to this country illegally, risking their lives, and that of their families. How can a caring Christian defend them, and encourage them to continue trying.

There are over 300,000 immigrants seeking asylum in this country, and they’re doing it the legal way. Does the system need to be streamlined? Sure. Can it be made better? Of course. Maybe if we cut down on illegal immigration, we could redirect some of those funds towards streamlining the asylum process.

Christians, if we feel the laws are unjust, we need to work towards changing the law. There are processes in place for that. Christians should be model citizens. I’m confident that breaking the law, and encouraging others to break the law is not a the model God wants us to portray.

Note: This has been cross-posted from Medium where it was originally published 21 January 2019.

Image credit: unsplash-logoDebby Hudson


  1. Niles, Randall. Out of Egypt – Jesus’ family escapes to Egypt. Drive Thru History. Web. 2018 Aug 16. Accessed: 15 Nov 2018. 

  2. Illegal immigration.” Wikipedia. Web. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  3. US-Mexico border migrant deaths rose in 2017 even as crossings fell, UN says.” The Guardian. Web. 6 Feb 2018. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  4. O’Brien, Matt and Raley, Spencer. The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers. Federation for American Immigration Reform. Web. 27 Sep 2017. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  5. Camarota, Steven A. The Cost of a Border Wall vs. the Cost of Illegal Immigration. Center for Immigration Studies. Web. 15 Feb 2017. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  6. The Cost of Immigration Enforcement and Border Security. American Immigration Council. Web. 25 Jan 2017. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  7. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Release Data on Incarcerated Aliens—94 Percent of All Confirmed Aliens in DOJ Custody Are Unlawfully Present. The United State Department of Justice. Web. 12 Dec 2017. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  8. Vaughan, Jessica M. MS-13 Resurgence: Immigration Enforcement Needed to Take Back Our Streets. Center for Immigration Studies. Web. 21 Feb 2018. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  9. Alkousaa, Riham. Violent crime rises in Germany and is attributed to refugees. Reuters. Web. 3 Jan 2018. Accessed 15 Jul 2018. 

  10. Jesus Was Not A Refugee. Legal Immigrants for America. Web. 28 Nov 2015. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  11. Doak, J. Alan. What Does the Bible Say About Borders?. Reflection on Plumb. 13 Dec 18. Web. 

  12. Asylum in the United States American Immigration Council. Web. 14 May 2018. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  13. The Law Against Hiring or Harboring Illegal Aliens. Federation for American Immigration Reform. Web. Dec 1999. Accessed: 19 Jan 2019. 

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What Does the Bible Say About Borders?

What Does the Bible Say About Borders?

Should a country maintain borders, or should we do away with them? They’ve been a contentious issue over the last couple of years, so I thought it’s time to see if the Bible has anything to say about borders. It turns out that it does!

God Creates Nations

When God created the world, there was only one group of people. At first, everyone had descended from Adam and Eve. While they had established different cities and roamed about, they all spoke the same language, were of the same race, and they were all united.

Eventually, they started to migrate together instead of migrating in different directions, and set forth to build a city on the plain of Shinar, where they began to build a tower that would reach Heaven.

When God saw what a unified people would be capable of, he confused their language, and dispersed them around the world, effectively creating the races, civilizations, and nations that resulted.

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:8-9, NIV)

God Creates Borders

If God didn’t care about borders, why did He make sure that an extremely detailed description of Israel’s borders were included in the Book of Joshua? If you’ve read the Bible, you’d know how tedious–yes, I said it–it is to read the specific details of not just Israel’s borders, but how Israel was to be divided between the Twelve Tribes. Did you ever wonder why God provided such detail? Maybe it was to get your attention!

God Respects Borders and Boundaries

In the Old Testament, there are borders that delineate not only nations, but private property. In many cases these are identified by landmarks, and we are provided with a view of how God views the those who take it upon themselves to disrespect boundaries that have been set:

The princes of Judah have become like those who move the landmark; upon them I will pour out my wrath like water (Hosea 5:10, ESV).

We see similar warnings in Deuteronomy 19:14 and 27:17, Proverbs 22:28 and 23:10, and Job 24:2.

Moses took the boundaries of a nation seriously enough that when the wandering Israelites wanted to pass through Edom, messengers were sent to the king to ask permission:

Please let us pass through your land. We will not pass through field or vineyard, or drink water from a well. We will go along the King’s Highway. We will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.” (Numbers 20:17, ESV)

In the end, the king of Edom denied the request, and met the Israelites with a large army to make sure his rejection was adhered to. Did Israel complain to God? No, they turned away and took the long way around.

God Created Our Current Borders

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, (Acts 17:26)

Finally, we see that God is Sovereign over the history of nations, not just their physical boundaries, but their boundaries in time as well. In practical terms, this means that God put the starting boundary of the United States at 1776, and only He knows where the finishing boundary will be. It also means that He has put the northern and southern borders of the United States where they are, not man. It means that God has done the same with every other nation on Earth.

It is not the place of our government, or individuals, to disrespect the borders and boundaries of other nations, just as it is not their place to disrespect ours. To do so is to disrespect our Sovereign God.

Note: This has been cross-posted from Medium where it was originally published 13 December 2018.

Image credit: Robert Anasch on Unsplash

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Further Reading

Fisher, Bryan. The Bible and borders. RenewAmerica. Web: 9 Jul 2014. Accessed: 11 Jul 2018.

The Bible and National Borders. Bible Mesh. Web: 27 Oct 2015. Accessed: 11 Jul 2018.

Walker, Wes. SHOULD NATIONS HAVE BORDERS? A Biblical Response. ClashDaily.com. Web: 22 Aug 2014. Accessed: 11 Jul 2018.

How can a conservative square funding for the wall?

35 Questions

This is part 16 in a series of 35 questions. It is based on a series of questions answered by John Hawkins for Townhall.com: here, and here.


16. How can a conservative square the funding request for the wall with past demands that spending be offset elsewhere?

There are things that the Federal Government is supposed to provide. One of those requirements are security. I don’t have a problem with the wall. That’s part of their Constitutionally approved jobs.

But, let’s offset spending anyway, by cutting programs not specifically named by the Constitution, for example, close the Department of Education, cut off all federal funding to colleges, and end government backed student loans and grants.

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The Deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos

A married, mother of two, illegal immigrant was deported and it’s her fault, no one else’s.

“The undocumented immigrant was detained Wednesday and deported within 24 hours to her native Mexico…1

Since “undocumented immigrant” doesn’t clearly describe her status, let me: Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos committed the crime of entering the U.S. illegally in the mid-1990s at the age of 14. A more accurate term for undocumented immigrant is illegal immigrant.

Later, in 2008, she was convicted of using a fake Social Security Number (felony criminal impersonation). While it’s true that she probably wasn’t “a threat to nobody,1” it doesn’t matter. She broke the law. Twice.

Now she’ll be the face of Trump’s policy. She’ll be the face of families being torn apart, and the beginning of the attempt to blame this on Trump. The fact of the matter is, this is her fault, and her fault alone. She knew she was here illegally when she got married, and she knew she was here illegally when she had children here. She knew they were legal citizens, and she was not. She knew there was the possibility of being deported even in those circumstances, and her children would have the option of staying. That’s not love; that’s selfishness.

Unfortunately, she had help. Enablers, if you will. Sanctuary cities, and liberals who don’t give a damn about who comes across the border ILLEGALLY. States that give illegal immigrants driver’s licenses and allow them to vote in certain elections. People that gave her hope that her crime would be ignored.

I wonder though, in this particular instance, why was she the first one deported? I almost feel like this was done intentionally to show the new policy in the worst possible light. Was this another botched rollout of an Executive Order, or was Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos a pawn to get the left to, once again, come unhinged.

While it may be true that illegal immigration has not resulted in high profile terror attacks, crime is still an issue. Worse, are those caught and then released only to commit more crimes and even murder.

But crime isn’t the only problem. The financial cost to taxpayer’s is tremendous:

If we stop sending money to sanctuary cities, we’ll have more than enough to pay for the wall.

Finally, you may not like the definition of criminal, but it’s really rather simple:

a person who has committed a crime

Being here illegally is a crime. That makes all illegal immigrants criminals. And they know that. They also know illegal immigrants can be deported. This isn’t a surprise; it’s the law.


  1. Almasy, Steve and Grinberg, Emanuella and Sanchez, Ray (2017). Mom deported in Arizona immigration case has no regrets – CNN.com. CNN. Accessed: 10 Feb 2017. 

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How can a Christian deny Arab child refugees?

35 Questions

This is part 3 in a series of 35 questions. It is based on a series of questions answered by John Hawkins for Townhall.com: here, and here.


3. If you’re a Christian how do you reconcile Good Samaritan/Sermon of the Mount with Trump denying Arab children safe passage?

Let me start by saying there’s going to be a little speculation here, but I’m not going to base my position on one or two passages of Scripture tossed out like a mic drop. While there are several passages that speak of treating foreigners well, there are also passages that infer wariness and caution.

First, God did not treat all foreigners the same. The most obvious, and the most controversial example, is God’s order to essentially exterminate the Canaanites. The wickedness of the Canaanites reached such a level that He used the nation of Israel to execute justice on every man, woman, and child. It should also be noted that this was not a rash decision. He actually waited 400 years before He decided it was time.

Second, God created the NATION of Israel. He set for them, specific laws that made them different from the surrounding nations, and He expected the Law to be followed. Sojourners did not have the same rights as the Israelites, despite the command to treat them with respect. If they did become part of the nation, they were expected to assimilate in ALL ways, i.e., follow the Law. Likewise, I see nothing wrong with expecting people who come here to be American citizens (legally), to assimilate to American culture.

Reading history indicates that immigrants coming to America have always tried to assimilate and become Americans. This phenomenon of the last twenty years or so, where immigrants come to America expect us to assimilate to them is foolish. Israel did that and was punished by God. We’re going to do that, and get punished by Islam.

Children are not the only age group looking for asylum. Unfortunately, the actions of adult refugees are hurting the safe passage of children. Simply Google ‘europe no go zones youtube’ and you’ll find plenty of reasons why so many people are not interested in helping people from the Arab countries: violence against women, violence in general, no-go zones, and not just a refusal to integrate but an insistence that we adopt their culture.

Other questions that need to be asked are, are the children traveling alone? Are they orphans? Where will they go? There needs to be a vetting process, and it appears that what vetting process there is, is substandard. Donald Trump’s TEMPORARY travel ban is supposed to address the vetting process.

Perhaps the most tragic thing of all, is that there is a good chance those children that do come here, will not adopt our culture either, but that of their parents, and they will grow into part of the problem.

Further Reading:

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