Biblical Reasoning Regarding Illegal Immigration

There exist wide variances within the Body of the Church as to how illegal immigration should be viewed and what response is necessary.  It spans a spectrum from all illegal immigration needs to be stopped immediately to any immigrant wanting to enter the country should be welcomed and cared for.

It seems the Baptists and Pentecostal Evangelicals hold the most conservative views and the Catholic Church holds the most liberal viewpoint.  And, it is fair to point out that there is disparity in how Scripture is interpreted to support one viewpoint versus another.

This article is intended to try and find what God has revealed through His Word as to how we should think and act regarding the crisis we now face in the United States.  Let me emphasize this article does not address legal immigration or changes in the law which should or should not be made.  We are speaking only to the fact of those who are entering the country illegally and how we are to view that situation.

What set me on this topic was an interview with two people who were expressing their viewpoints on this subject.  One of the persons responded to a question asked by the interviewer with this statement – “My pastor says that no person is illegal and, therefore, there are no illegal immigrants”.  I looked at the television and quite honestly said aloud “that may be the stupidest and non-relevant statement I have ever heard on this issue”.  The term illegal immigrant says nothing about the personhood of an individual; it simply reflects the status of an individual under the law.   If an individual has been convicted of a crime, under the law he is a criminal. If a person enters this country illegally, he is afforded the term illegal immigrant.

The first immigration law in the United States was enacted on March 26, 1790 by the second session of the first Congress. The law was called the Naturalization Act of 1790. During the 18th and most of the 19th centuries, the United States had limited regulation of immigration and naturalization at a national level. Under a mostly prevailing "open border" policy, immigration was generally welcomed, but citizenship was subject to a five-year residency in the country as of 1802.

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s immigration policies slowly shifted to the national level and the Immigration Act of 1891, led to the establishment of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and the opening of the Ellis Island inspection station in 1892.  Constitutional authority (Article 1 §8) was later relied upon to enact the Naturalization Act of 1906 which standardized procedures for naturalization nationwide.

And this is where the argument that we are a nation of immigrants and, therefore, any immigrant should be welcome fails.  While that argument could stand for part of our time as a country, once laws were enacted to control immigration that argument no longer stands.   

God is a God of law.  He believes in law so firmly that he put ten laws into stone that stand as part of our instruction to this day.  Further, Romans 13:1–7 makes it abundantly clear that God expects us to obey the laws of the government.  Nothing in Scripture permits us to break a law other than those which put the government above God in terms of worshipping God. 

God has a law against stealing.  When an individual enters the country illegally, he begins to steal from the citizens of this country.  He takes what he is not entitled to gain:  food, shelter, transportation, cell phones, money, and educational instruction just to name a few.  All of these things have been and continue to be provided for individuals who broke into the country.   If someone broke into your house and ate your food, demanded that they be allowed to move into your house with you, took a portion of your money, demanded cell phones, had you pay their doctor’s bills, and determined that their children be allowed to attend your local school even if the classrooms could not accommodate them and there was no teacher who spoke their native language, how would you react and how would you classify their behavior?  The terms normally associated with these actions are home invasion and theft.  This is not an act of your compassion and charity.  You did not invite them in.

In Luke 3:11 God does give us instruction as to how to treat those in need.  “And he answered and said unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath food, let him do likewise.”  Understand that God is instructing us as to our actions in love and charity.  He did not say leave your door unlocked and wide open so that he who wants to can come in and steal whatever he wants.  There is a distinct difference between these two thoughts and actions.  One is you giving from a heart of compassion and charity.  The other is one of taking and theft. 

The oft-heard refrain of “Let the government pay for it” is also a non-relevant slogan regarding illegal immigration.  Let me say this loud and clear; THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO MONEY!  The government makes no products and provides no services for which it is paid.  The only money the government has comes from the tax-paying citizens of this country.  If all of the goods and services provided to illegal immigrants come from the government coffers, everything said previously in this section remains true.  The US Department of the Treasury is not registered as a charitable institution and should not be using funds meant for citizens to pay individuals who are violating US law to assist them to continue violating that same law.

Let it also be understood that illegal immigration leads to other forms of stealing.  Many illegal immigrants use forged government documents such as Social Security cards and driver’s licenses.  That often leads to identity theft which is a nightmare for many citizens these days.  Not only is this activity totally immoral, it is a felony crime.  Property destruction along our southern border is rampant.  People illegally entering the country trample through ranches, destroying crops and fences allowing animals to escape and scatter.  Ranch tools and household items, including clothing are stolen.  Debris of all description is left behind which homeowners must then clean up.

God has also instructed us as to how we should care for our neighbor.  In Luke 10:25-37 God shows us how to treat a neighbor in need.  The Good Samaritan cared for the injured neighbor in his own land.  He did not say come home with me and I’ll give you everything you need.  Jesus commanded His own disciples and now us to “Go” into the world.  He did not say bring everyone in the world home with you.  

God has a law against covetousness.  

Exodus 20:17(NASB) You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male slave, or his female slave, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The idea that illegal immigrants are the poor from Mexico seeking to find gainful employment is an image that has been long imposed on this problem.  But it has become painfully obvious over the last three years that this notion has been shattered into a million pieces.  During that time period we have seen approximately 6.5 million people come over our southern border from more than 150 countries. That number does not include the 1.5 million known “got-aways.” Those are the people who did not turn themselves in to border patrol who were observed sneaking into the country on video and those who were observed and chased, but managed to evade capture.  We do not know how many others have come in, but were not caught on video. Fox News has faithfully covered these border crossings and done continuous interviews with immigrants asking why they are coming to the US.  Various answers have included -- “Because I can; because I have a right to your country; because I want to be rich, etc.”  There is no way to avoid the conclusion that much of this illegal activity is due to covetousness. They simply want what US citizens have a right to pursue.  Note that word “pursue”.  Persons here legally have a right to pursue happiness.  They have no guarantee that a happy life will be provided to them.  

Contrast that to the expectations of illegal immigrants who expect to be made happy. In recent days we have seen groups of Venezuelan immigrants leave Chicago and return to Venezuela because they are not satisfied with what has been given to them. Their accommodations are not up to their expectations. 

These groups are obviously here due to greed. The same demand for better services is being seen in New York city which is now spending billions of dollars on illegal migrants. Some were initially housed in The Roosevelt Hotel in $500.00 per night rooms while the city prepared other accommodations for them. Many migrants are very unhappy with the new housing and are leaving there and going back to stand in front of the Roosevelt Hotel demanding to be let back in. One of the sad facts of this situation is that homeless veterans are being kicked out of housing provided to them in order to house the continuing number of illegal immigrants flooding into New York.  

Unfortunately, illegal immigrants are also taking from those who are attempting legal immigration. Immigration services are so concentrated on trying to process all the illegal immigrants that resources to attend to those applying for legal immigration are being neglected or downright ignored. No one likes a cheater. If someone cut line in front of you in the first grade, everyone would have yelled “cheater, you cut line”. 

God is also against cheating. In Proverbs 11:1 God says “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight.” Cheating to take your neighbor’s place is not just in God’s eyes.

God wants His People Protected. And by extension that protection extends to the nation in which His people live. God speaks of walls and hedges numerous times throughout the Bible. Some references are made to literal walls and others to spiritual walls. God is supportive of ways and means enacted to protect His people. Obviously, there is no commandment in the Bible to build a wall at our southern border, but there is nowhere in the Bible that would condemn building a wall for protection.  

When Nehemiah found the walls surrounding Jerusalem in ruins, he made this observation to the people in Nehemiah 2:17-18 (NASB):

“Then I said to them, ‘You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach. I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, ‘Let us arise and build.’  So, they put their hands to the good work.”

When Gesham the Arab, a ruler of Arab tribes, questioned what Nehemiah was doing he told him in Nehemiah 2:20 “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore, we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem.” In other words, God was backing a plan of protection for His people and others had no right to lay claim to anything in Jerusalem.

Numbers 32:17 is part of a conversation with the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the Tribe of Manasseh. As part of an agreement to allow these two and a half tribes to settle outside the boundaries of the Promised Land, they agreed to help the rest reach the Promised Land under these conditions, “… but we ourselves will be armed, hurrying ahead of the sons of Israel, until we have brought them to their place, while our little ones live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land.” In other words, we will help you, but our wives and children must be protected from other inhabitants while we do it.

In Deuteronomy 27:17 (NASB) God recognizes boundaries. God plainly says “‘Cursed is he who moves his neighbor’s boundary mark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

In addition to the sheer numbers of people flooding into this country illegally, the Mexican cartels are taking advantage of this situation to bring fentanyl in great quantities into the country. The DEA has confirmed that it has seized enough fentanyl to kill every American.

As of October 3, 2023 more than 55 million fentanyl pills had been seized. Federal data shows that in 2022 more than 109,000 people died from drug overdoses. Many of these deaths were from fentanyl. A reasonable government sworn to protect its citizens cannot allow this to continue.  

Human trafficking

The Heritage Foundation has reported that human trafficking is now a business generating $150 billion in illegal profits. It encompasses forced labor, sex trafficking, organ trafficking and more.  The vast majority, 72%, of those trafficked in the U.S. are immigrants. Most of them are here illegally.

Many are women and children who are highly vulnerable to being smuggled and eventually trafficked. A study from the Coalition Against Trafficking In Women estimated that 60% of unaccompanied alien children, or UACs, are caught by cartels and exploited through child pornography and drug trafficking. The absence of border security, in conjunction with nonexistent interior enforcement, has made the U.S. a fertile breeding ground for human trafficking.  The open border policy is, without doubt, enabling a heinous and evil criminal activity.

National Security

Our national security is threatened by the sheer volume of illegal immigrants entering the country.  We do not have the resources to fully vet every individual coming in. That being said, even under the current conditions we have managed to identify approximately 200 known terrorists from the Terrorist Watch List. We have no way of knowing how many terrorists may be included in the got-aways.

We do know that the number of illegal immigrants from nations which sponsor terrorism have in-creased dramatically. The border patrol intercepted a boat filled with illegal immigrants from China coming from Cuba. I find myself asking how those individuals got to Cuba from China. The Director of the FBI and the head of the Department of Homeland Security have testified before Congress warning that the threat level of terrorism in the United States has risen significantly.

God is very practical. He is not against us guarding our house or our nation. In Luke 11:21He says, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his house, his possessions are secure.”  That is only a partial application of that scripture, but it is true nonetheless. God expects us to be able to keep our house and nation secure.

To me the question of illegal immigration demands a straightforward analysis.  We are not to break God’s law or assist anyone else to break God’s law.  We are to do the things God has told us to do in the way God has told us to do them; and, conversely, we are not to do the things God has said not to do. By adopting these basic truths into our lives, we avoid living in the sin that is inherent and avoid being complicit in the corrupting influences that produce additional sin. I Peter says it well:

“13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God, that by doing right you silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Act as free people, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-servants of God.” (I Peter 2:13-16).  NASB  [Emphasis added]

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