9 Things Jesus Might Do About Immigration
Columnist Esther Cepeda has raised the question, “What Would Jesus Do About Immigration Issues?” In her article, Ms. Cepeda and journalist Michael Gerson seem to feel that the Bible teaches only the “welcome” aspect of migration. That it calls for porous if not open borders. Anything other than this is “hypocrisy” and “inhumane.” Those who disagree are in “far-right, anti-immigrant camps.”
We agree with their sensibility of kindness. But let the Bible speak for itself. Because in it, God has a great deal to say about wise immigration and citizenship. We will also speak from data and personal experience.
Kelly reflects, “As a missionary in Guatemala, Peru and El Salvador, I wondered about the need for borders. Years later, curious about the many well-funded faith groups for open borders and amnesty, I began to study the Bible on this question.”
Where Can We Learn What Jesus Wants? The Bible
Jesus can be hard to predict, and full of surprises. Still, Jesus taught and lived perfect obedience to the Word of God, the Bible, so let’s start there.
In Scripture, we see that Jesus loves us all. His followers know that our truest “citizenship” is with Christ, in heaven. And yet, here we are, for a while, on this curious blue planet. From Genesis 1 on, we’re taught to nurture the garden of culture. Culture-shaping requires work, wisdom and vision.
Because Jesus loves all people, and wants all nations to thrive, we believe that he would do each of nine important things.
1. Stand and Lead
Jesus wouldn’t teach people to run from their homelands. He would empower them to stand their ground, to lead, and to overcome challenges with creative love. He wouldn’t want the strong to abandon and break up their families. Jesus wouldn’t send people to any “savior” nation. He is the savior and his gospel is for the flourishing of every person, and every nation.
Kelly notes: “I love Central America and worked among the very poor as a missionary with widows and orphans. When sons leave, they make their families and villages more vulnerable to danger. When children leave, they are too often abused and trafficked. What if we and they put creative effort, wisdom and the curious money behind ‘caravans,’ into the protection and growth of their local villages and cities? I suspect that’s what Jesus would do.”
2. Clean Up Crime
Because He loves people, Jesus would oppose the crime and corruption that harms them. He would “clean the temple” and heal cities and nations so people would be free to stay at home. He surely wouldn’t empty whole towns of dads and leave the children fatherless.
Jesus would teach us to be adults who effectively deal with bullies. He does not cower to human traffickers, or radicals seeking to “fundamentally transform” nations wherever “progressive” money flows.
Because of open borders and legal loopholes:
- 94% of heroin in the U.S. comes through the southern border.
- 70,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses in 2018 (Laura Ingraham interview of U.S. Col. Douglas MacGregor, May 11, 2019).
- Many jihadis and MS-13 gang members are embedded in our cities.
Let’s look at the facts. For instance, the findings of the new data on federal crimes (U.S. Sentencing Commission (USCC) Data on Federal Convictions Fiscal Years 2011-2016). Non-citizens account for a much larger share of convictions than their 8.4 percent share of the adult population. They account for:
- 42.4 percent of kidnapping convictions.
- 31.5 percent of drug convictions.
- 22.9 percent of money laundering convictions.
- 13.4 percent of administration of justice offenses (e.g. witness tampering, obstruction, and contempt). And
- 17.8 percent of economic crimes (e.g. larceny, embezzlement, and fraud);
Hard working Americans of every race pay for all this. Over $100 billion in tax dollars go to support of illegal aliens. This is theft, as is voter fraud that is now well-documented across the country, with non-citizens voting.
Jesus loves Americans, just as he loves all people. He wouldn’t tolerate much less enable those who destroy lives. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy, but I have come that you would have life to the fullest.” He loves us.
3. Affirm Compassion and Fairness
Jesus would likely laud America as the most generous nation on earth, welcoming a million legal immigrants per year. But many applying legally are left outside waiting because of illegal entries and spiking asylum claims. Letting those who broke the rules leapfrog over them is simply and frankly unjust.
4. Take the Whole Counsel of Scripture
Jesus would not cherry-pick Bible verses as the Pharisees did. He would reason from the whole counsel of Scripture which is the highest love for human beings, and highest good for cultures. And the Bible does not teach open borders, but wise welcome.
The Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) is funded by pro-abortion National Immigration Forum (NIF) of Soros’s Open Society, Ford and Rockefeller foundations. The EIT helped lead the fight for the Schumer-Rubio Bill amnesty efforts. It did so with a partial verse from Matthew 25, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Here, Jesus judges us by how we treated the hungry, the prisoner and “these brothers of mine.” It is a powerful passage not to be taken lightly.
But Jesus wasn’t a spin-doctor. He didn’t think in slogans, or little snippets of scripture. He knew and came to fulfill the whole of His father’s law. That means we must read His words in their entire biblical context. Kelly tries to do that in the e-book Wise Welcome, free for download at AmericanEvangelicals.com.) In it we find three crucial, scriptural guidestones on understanding the morals of migration.
Three Little Words: ‘Ger,’ ‘Zar,’ and ‘Nekhar’
“Ger” means “resident alien.” In the Bible, God teaches hospitality to foreign persons who come lawfully, with permission, as blessings — the word in Hebrew is “ger.” It is close to the word ‘convert.’ They are to be welcomed as “resident aliens.” They are also held to the same laws as citizens. Such assimilation is seen in the life of Ruth. That young Moabite said to her grieving mother-in-law, Naomi, “Your God shall be my God, and your people shall be my people.” God honored Ruth’s faith. She married a Hebrew elder, Boaz, and they became ancestral forebears of Jesus himself.
“Zar” and “nekhar” are “foreigners” and “strangers”: God warns against citizenship for foreigners who do not come lawfully, to bless a nation – the words in Hebrew are the zar and nekhar. This category includes those who come illegally as squatters, travelers, temporary workers and enemies.
Progressive Christians wrongly suggest that all foreigners are the “ger.” They smoosh together, as the Word of God does not, legal immigrants with illegal, and conflate patriotic newcomers who assimilate with anti-American squatters. This is unkind to millions of Americans who suffer the consequences illegal immigration: crime, drugs and loss of work. God loves American poor people too.
Further, the God of the Bible laments lawlessness (this would include today’s misnamed “sanctuary cities,”) and the ascension of foreign laws and faiths that corrupt the character of a people and nation once dedicated to him.
- Isaiah 1:7 — “Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners (zar) right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.”
- Lamentations 5:2 — “Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers (nekhar), our homes to foreigners (zar).”
Borders and Walls Can Be a Blessing
After the exile to Babylon, Nehemiah grieved the demise of Jerusalem, and led the nation in the rebuilding of its faith, culture and walls.
Nehemiah 2:17 — “Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’”
Given the realities of a fallen world, we are to build in the ruins and work for peace, human flourishing, and the glory of God. This effort means building doors and bridges. That can also include strong borders and the rule of law that yields peace. Healthy national boundaries are viewed as a sign of blessing, while lax borders are seen as an urgent problem to be remedied:
Isaiah 60:18 — “No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.”
5. See Through Dirty Politics
Of course Jesus would walk alongside the people in the migrant caravans. But are we sure He would lead them north? Maybe He’d tell them to reject the smooth words of the activists who goaded them to leave. Show them instead how to repair their home countries, and bloom where He’d planted them. He’d respond in each case as the Holy Spirit leads. But wherever people leave, there is a void to be filled, sometimes in the form of thousands of fatherless families.
We know that Jesus saw through the wiles of Pilate and Herod. Surely He wouldn’t play the game of Progressive social engineers, who use the poor as pawns. Since Jesus knew all, He would have realized this: If the thousands in today’s caravans were likely Republican voters, the Left’s well-funded machine would not be “welcoming” them to America.
6. Call out the Sadducees
Jesus would challenge the self-serving words of well-funded leftist clerics who cherry-pick Bible verses. He’d point to those who suffered the side-effects of empty words, devoid of prudence.
Jesus didn’t mince words concerning the high priests who put on pious garb while doing Caesar’s bidding. Woe to us when “ministers” bring harm to a nation by advancing a political majority pushing infanticide, lawlessness, and a socialist economic system built on envy and covetousness. Beware of wolves in shepherd’s clothing.
7. Render Unto Caesar
Jesus didn’t urge His disciples to break the law. He told them to pay their taxes, even to the occupying Roman government. If Jews were to honor Roman laws they had no part in making, how can Christians today urge us to break our own democratically-enacted laws? Joseph and Mary fled Herod, moving legally from one province of the Roman Empire to another. They were real refugees, supported themselves, and went home as soon as it was safe. Abraham, Moses, and Paul respected the borders, customs, and laws of each land they entered. What makes us think that suddenly we’re so special, that we get to flout the law?
8. Tell Us to Love Our Actual Neighbors
After students volunteered with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, she would send them home to love their families. “Love begins at home,” she famously taught. Poverty comes in many forms.
In the parable of the “good Samaritan,” Jesus expands our understanding of neighbor beyond neighborhood to the hurting person we encounter on our journey. Until the economic recovery, ninety million Americans were not working, while millions of foreign persons were “welcomed” to America, and many took jobs for lower wages. Shrugging at this was not a way of loving our neighbors.
9. Preach to All Nations
In Genesis 11, we see that Babel was a kind of ‘one world’ hierarchy with a super-elite using a servant class to “make a name for ourselves.” Because of love, God freed and decentralized people, allowing them to build strong families, tribes and cultures. He gave them unique languages and lands with borders.
God loves true diversity, whereas social engineers and media behind open borders want to churn out a global monoculture, made in their own elitist image.
Acts 17:26-27 — “… and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might search for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”
Jesus’s final words to his followers were: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Biblical wisdom is the highest love for human beings. We’re called to wisely steward the garden of culture. Let’s honor both neighbors and those who come lawfully as blessings. And let’s continue the long Christian history of generous faith, overcoming evil with good. So we may be a light to the nations.
This article has been updated.
Kelly Monroe Kullberg began The Veritas Forum at Harvard, which is now in 200 universities, in twelve countries. Veritas explores the world’s hardest questions in relation to biblical truth and Jesus Christ. She edited Finding God at Harvard and wrote its sequel Finding God Beyond Harvard.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration.