A Christian Response to Immigration
One of the most contested political issues today is immigration. It’s estimated there are now at least 11 million illegal aliens in the United States. Many Americans want to see them deported especially those who receive benefits like subsidized housing over legal residents. What makes the situation more complex is anchor babies born to aliens are recognized as American citizens. Certainly it wouldn’t be humane to break up these families.
Recently two minister friends who are immigrants themselves posted comments on Facebook suggesting we shouldn’t have any border controls. One of them claimed, “...restricting immigration is part of Marxist Socialism and is totally contrary to Biblical Christianity.” Yet when the Scriptures were written, cities had massive walls to keep certain people out. Even the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 will have a wall around it.
While Native Americans have contributed to our society, the United States was predominately founded and built by immigrants and their descendants. The Statue of Liberty has a plaque on its base with this inscription: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The Bible has many things to say on how to relate to foreigners. Deuteronomy 17:15 says, “You shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.” This Scripture inspired the writers of the Constitution to make it a requirement for the President to be a natural-born citizen.
Under the Old Covenant, certain religious activities were forbidden to foreigners. Exodus 12:43 says, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it.” It also says in Ezekiel 44:9, “No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart or uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter My sanctuary, including any foreigner who is among the children of Israel.”
On the other hand, the Old Testament commanded God’s people 36 times not to mistreat foreigners. For example. Leviticus 19:33-34 (NLT) says, “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
One of Christ’s earthly descendants was a foreigner name Ruth who found favor in Boaz’ eyes. When He was a young child, Jesus received gifts from three wise men who traveled from Persia (Matthew 2:1). Jesus soon became a foreigner Himself after Joseph moved the family to Egypt to avoid being killed by Herod. Later when describing the Judgment of the Nations, Jesus commended those who obeyed Matthew 25:35, “I was a stranger and you took Me in.”
Hebrews 13:2 tells us, “Do not forget to entertain strangers...” Therefore as a Christian, I welcome foreigners wanting to move to America as long as they do so legally and assimilate as law-abiding citizens. They shouldn’t insist on us changing our laws and customs to accommodate their preferences. One executive from the Council on American Islamic Relations declared, “If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land.” He would be better off moving to a country that practices Sharia Law.
I do believe some restrictions should be in place regarding who gets into the United States particularly those connected with terrorism and drug trafficking. Any foreigner who engages in illegal activities like these shouldn’t be allowed in the country. Those that get in and commit crimes within our borders should be prosecuted and deported.
Unfortunately, the U. S. Government has made it harder for potential immigrants with godly motives. Not too long ago, a Christian family from Germany seeking political asylum to homeschool their children here was threatened with deportation. Now President Obama wants to allow 10,000 Muslim refugees from Syria into the United States within the next year. There are reports that 75% of those refugees are young men who could be potential terrorists.
Then again, these could be opportunities to minister to people who might not hear the gospel otherwise. Once immigrants receive salvation, they “...are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)
Our ultimate focus should be on eternal matters.
“Dear friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” - 1 Peter 2:11 (NLT)