When Christians talk (or often times debate) about immigration into the United States, two main arguments emerge. I am sharing the two most popular arguments and providing links to applicable references therein.
Welcoming The Stranger
In Jesus’ words – Matthew 25:35-40 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
We are to treat everyone we come across in life as if they are Jesus. What an awesome passage to think about. It really makes you slow down and think about how you treat other people day in and day out. I heard a great example of this on the radio a couple days ago. A homeless man happened across one of the DJs for the station and asked if he had a razor and shaving cream as he had gotten a job interview. The DJ said he didn’t, but that if he would stay, he would run to the store and get him what he needed. The homeless man was thankful and agreed. The DJ went to the store and grabbed the cheapest razor and cream he could find and remembered this passage as he walked down the aisle. Would he give Jesus the cheapest razor and shaving cream? No. So with tears in his eyes he put them back and got the best of both and took them to the homeless man. This is the thought process of a Christian obeying Jesus.
This passage (Matthew 25:35-40) is used by many that advocate for open border policies in the United States.
We are to welcome strangers and treat them as if they are Jesus himself. Is this to be applied to our country’s policy or did Jesus mean it on an individual basis? In order to answer that you must come to understand what government was like in the time Jesus was here and also know that the Bible is the Living Word of God and it still applies today.
It is clear that countries during the period of Jesus’ words had definitive borders and a system for foreigners to procure entry, as referenced in this awesome article by James K. Hoffmeier.
Rule of Law
Romans 13:1-5 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”
Paul the Apostle was clearly advocating for obedience to the laws government puts in place. A rule of law is necessary to bring order to society, and disregard for it (unless it conflicts with your faith and relationship with God) is sin. (It’s also important to note that US laws are bills that pass through Congress and are either signed into law by the executive branch or vetoed and passed again by a large majority of Congress thus overruling the executive branch.)
The Case for Critical Thinking
I would argue both should be applied.
When liberals look at conservatives, they scoff at the “hypocrisy” of being an evangelical and opposing ‘immigration’. Except that liberals literally deny the existence of illegal immigration. There is no such thing to them. Instead of the judgement the Bible promises to those that break the law of the authority, liberal evangelicals want to reward those that have broke our immigration laws with citizenship.
People who claim asylum anywhere other than a U.S. port of entry are still breaking the law. Former ICE director Tom Hogan made this clear in front of Congress in 2019. It’s nearly impossible to have a rational conversation with someone that denies how US immigration law works.
Most articles even loosely based on a single verse or short passage of the Bible regarding immigration don’t mention the word illegal. These articles attempt to frame Christian conservatives as somewhat racist for not wanting anyone new to come to their country. This stance is entirely disingenuous. Christian conservatives, with very few exceptions, are fine with legal immigration. They simply take a stand when people cross the border at a non-port of entry or outstay their allotted time frame (both are, you guessed it, ILLEGAL). Christian conservatives have no quarrel with people that register, are vetted and come into the United States legally. The narrative among liberals and a huge majority of the media will not acknowledge that fact. They have no respect for current, in force immigration laws in our country.
I argue that a logical person would conclude that governments should enforce an immigration system that keeps track of and vetts the people it allows into the country as nations have for thousands of years (even as Jesus said the words above). I argue that we can treat all people as if they were Jesus and also protect the rule of law – the Bible states that both can clearly happen, as it does not contradict itself.
We can welcome all, but so many strangers are skipping the welcome.