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What Does The Bible Say About Immigration

All Believers In Jesus Christ Belong To The Kingdom Of God

What does the Bible say about immigration?

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with Gods people and also members of his household.Ephesians 2:19

This verse follows the great passage that lays out how we have been saved by faith in Jesus . In it, the terms foreigners and strangers are used as metaphors for our condition before our faith in Jesus Christ. Before we believed, we were outside the covenant and considered foreigners or strangers in Gods kingdom . But because of our faith in him, we are now part of Gods community strangers who have been welcomed in.

Immigration Amnesty Creates An Injustice Toward Those Who Have Instead Worked Through The Legal Process To Become Citizens Of The United States


When you think about it, whereas God, individuals, families, churches, and corporations can manifest grace and mercy, the institution of government must be just. Whenever government favors one group over another, it manifests corporate injustice. Therefore, fundamental to immigration reform is the need to demand that illegal entrants meet the same requirements as others who have legally obtained citizenship status.


What follow from these exposited biblical principles are at least six applications relative to immigration. These need to be manifest in comprehensive immigration reform in order to create laws that are in line with, and pleasing to God. They are:

A: Foreigners should not be allowed unregulated entry into a country. Borders and oceans should be impenetrable so as to discourage illegals entrance.

B: Foreigners should not be able to partake of any governmental entitlements. Nor should they be allowed to have any licenses, legal identification, or enrollment in any institutions.

C: Foreigners who can help advance should be afforded sojourner/ immigration consideration. It follows then that foreigners who are already in the country seeking citizenship should have citizen-sponsors who can testify to their past value, productivity, present character, and loyalty.

D: Foreigners should be required to pay taxes similar to those paid by citizens, both present and past due.

How To Respond When Immigration Law Calls For Forcible Separation Of Children From Their Parents

One of the trickiest parts of the current immigration discussion is what to do when immigration law forcibly separates children from their parents.

This is really a hard scenario, because under most circumstances, unless the parents are unfit, the law does not permit forcible separation of children from parents. In fact, it protects the sacredness of the family unit.

I think there are times when families who are trying to get into the country illegally will often try and leverage that knowledge that we don’t like to separate families and children to their advantage.

That being said, I think as a general rule, any immigration policy that we come up with ought not, as a matter of policy, allow the forcible separation of children from parents. Any scenario that wantonly and deliberately creates orphans among already vulnerable children, I think is very problematic morally, and is something that we ought to do our best to fix legally.

And it may be that, if that means admitting that some people have played the system, then that, in my view, would be an acceptable cost in order to make sure that children and families are separated only under the most rare conditions that involve the unfitness of the parents to care for the children.

It seems to me that the sacredness of the family unit is one of those Biblical principles that ought to govern our immigration policy.

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Treat Foreigners Or Refugees As Citizens And With Love

The foreigners residing among you must be treated as native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.Leviticus 19:34

Most Christians are aware of Jesus instruction to love your neighbor as yourself, but may not be as familiar with the law of Moses that has the same instruction for treating foreigners. The instruction to treat them as native-born would have been shocking to people in Moses day.

Refugees then and now can end up living elsewhere for a short time or for many years. Of the 25.4 million refugees in the world today, more than 14 million have been out of their country for more than five years. Of these, 3.5 million have been refugees between 10 and 37 years. And another 3 million have been displaced for 37-plus years thats a lifetime! This instruction in Leviticus is especially helpful when people end up staying for years as refugees or migrants.

God has set a high standard for treating those who are foreigners. His people are to love them like we love ourselves and to treat them as citizens. And the reason given? Because God the I am commanded us to.

Franklin Graham Said Immigration Is Not A Bible Issue Heres What The Bible Says

What Does the Bible Say about Immigration?

While many religious groups have come out against President Trumps immigration ban, some significant figures in the faith community, including Liberty Universitys Jerry Falwell Jr., have stood in support of it. Attempting to defend the ban from a religious point of view, evangelist Franklin Graham declared, Thats not a Bible issue.

He could not be more wrong.

Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are clear and consistent when it comes to how we are to treat the stranger. Across the books of both testaments, in narrative, law, prophecy, poetry and parable, the Bible consistently spells out that it is the responsibility of the citizen to ensure that the immigrant, the stranger, the refugee, is respected, welcomed and cared for. It is what God wants us to do, but it also recognizes that we too were immigrants and immigrants we remain. Like my forebears, I am an alien, resident with you, says Psalm 39.

For the nearly 80 percent of Americans who, according to some studies, believe the Bible to be divinely inspired, what this culturally foundational document says about immigration, foreigners and the treatment of the stranger defined in biblical terms as any person who dwells in a land without being a citizen of that land is not simply a matter of historical record it should inform us today.

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Those Who Seek To Withhold Justice From Foreigners Are To Be Cursed

Deuteronomy 27:19Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow. Then all the people shall say, Amen!

Malachi 3:5So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me, says the LORD Almighty.

The Meaning Of The Hebrew Words Translated Into English As Immigrant

The Old Testament has two distinct words to describe people on the move, the ger, who was the sojourner, the one who’s more at home, and the nokri, who is the stranger, one who’s much less at home in the land of Israel.

Regardless of what conclusions we draw about those lexical distinctions, it seems to me that the mandate to care for the vulnerable, to have compassion on those who are in your midst, still remains the same.

Now, I think that distinction has a lot of relevance to what immigration policy should be, but I’m not sure it is as relevant for how we treat the immigrants and refugees who are among us. If the nokri is actually someone who is potentially dangerous, then I think that obviously affects immigration policy. It also, I think, affects the caution with which you take that person into your life and family.

But in general, I think, for both the ger or the nokri, the people of God were not allowed to mistreat, oppress, or treat either group in ways that would be a violation of their dignity.

So it seems to me, immigration policy’s one thing, but our obligation to treat well the people who are in our midst, whether they’re here legally or not, still remains.

Just because the Bible proclaims that we are to take care of immigrants in the same way we’re to take care of our native-born, nothing necessarily follows about how open our borders ought to be, what the procedure ought to be for immigration in terms of how long you wait in line.

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The Question As To How A Nation That Has So Wildly Strayed From Gods Standard And Returns To Gods Standard Is A Complex And Difficult One

Stemming from the biblical precepts examined, there are at least six NT biblical principles that add additional insights on this matter:


As gleaned from Romans 13:4, Paul states under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for it does not bear the sword for nothing. Governments are to seek the welfare of their people by punishing evildoers . People who are illegals are a threat to the welfare of those who are citizens. It is out of an inherent desire imbued by their Designer, that governments want to protect their citizens as a mother does her child and if they dont, they should. In terms of immigration, for a government to be pleasing to God and receive His blessing, it has no option but to protect its citizenry from illegalimmigration per Romans 13:4 and 1 Peter 2:13-14. It must always protect its borders and punish those who enter illegally. Any governmental response that is less than this violates Gods clearly revealed intention for government and invites chaos .


Part of the curse of the fall of man in Genesis 3:17-19 was the economic necessity that man would now have to work in order to obtain necessary provisions. Paul restates this same idea when he reminds the Thessalonians that Jesus did not come to abolish the need for personal industry:

A Biblical Perspective On Immigration Policy

What Does the Bible Say About Border Control and Immigration?

CIS Fellow James R. Edwards, Jr., PhD, is coauthor of The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform. He contributed a chapter related to this topic to Carol M. Swains Debating Immigration, and his speech at Malone Colleges Worldview Forum was published in Vital Speeches of the Day.

The immigration issue often highlights fissures between faithful parishioners and denominational clerics. Many Catholic bishops have called for amnesty for illegal immigrants, and their conferences lobbying arm works continually with open-borders special interests. Catholic and mainline Protestant church officials have decried the federal governments enforcement of immigration laws. Some liberal religious leaders re-initiated a sanctuary movement to harbor illegal aliens, including in churches. A Southern Baptist official has sided with amnesty proponents as pragmatism, and the National Association of Evangelicals plans to weigh in, likely on the pro comprehensive immigration reform side.

Yet such self-described compassion among religious elites differs from the perspective of most rank-and-file Christians. The laity generally opposes legalization and supports enforcement of immigration laws. One may ask: How else could Christians approach immigration policy matters?

Civil Governments Biblical Role

Scripture clearly indicates that God charges civil authorities with preserving order, protecting citizens, and punishing wrongdoers. A prime passage is Romans 13:1-7:

End Notes

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Foreigners Or Refugees Are Not To Be Oppressed

Do not oppress a foreigner you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.Exodus 23:9

This is the basic rule of thumb: Dont burden foreigners. Notice that the Scripture gives Israel a reason why because they knew how it felt to be a foreigner. Israelites were to call on their empathy for refugees because they had been treated cruelly as refugees who were made into slaves in Egypt. They werent to cheat them or take advantage of them in any way.

And since we, as believers, were once strangers outside Gods kingdom, we can identify with the idea of not belonging as the reason why we treat refugees or displaced people without discrimination.

Jesus Said How His Followers Treated Strangers Should Show Disciple

I was a stranger and you invited me in.Matthew 25:35

Middle Eastern cultures are famous for their hospitality. For example, Abraham invited the angelic visitors into his tent and provided a lavish meal for them . Even so, strangers among the different tribal groups were looked at with suspicion, often conned or taken advantage of, and not treated well, especially if they were poor. Gods instructions in the Old Testament were countercultural.

Jesus follows the Old Testament pattern and takes it a step further by saying that how we treat strangers indicates whether we are his followers. We are to invite the stranger in if we are his disciples.

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The Immigration Laws Of Every Nation Should Be Biblically Based And Strictly Enforced All With The Utmost Confidence And Assurance That God Approves Such Actions By The Nations Leaders

Similar to a parent who incorrectly feels guilty for spanking a rebellious child because his conscience is not sufficiently informed by Scripture, the conscience of the lawmaker, too, should be informed by Gods Word on this subject. And Gods Word says He frowns on illegal immigrants just like He says He frowns on children ruling the roost!


It need be especially underscored that an advocate of immigration restriction is not necessarily a racist. Policies preventing illegal immigration should stem from biblical motives of ensuring the general welfare of the nation versus denying a would-be immigrant the potential for a better way of life. To procedurally exclude foreign individuals who might be criminals, traitors, or terrorists, or who possess communicable diseases is not racist in the least! It is good stewardship to protect the citizens of a nation who have unmistakably pledged their allegiance to that nation and their fellow citizens! Holding to a biblical theology on immigration in no way implies that one is necessarily a racist!


One additional misnomer that is common to current debates on immigration is the charge that those who are tough on immigration are patently compassionless. Just the opposite is true! This can be illustrated in a myriad of ways: One is an economic argument:

Practical Things Christians Can Do In Response To The Current Immigration Crisis

What does the Bible say about illegal immigration ...

Maybe the toughest question of all in this immigration discussion is “What can I do? I’m reading the Scripture, I’m seeing God’s heart for the victimized and the marginalized. What are some tangible things that I can do?”

First, be informed about the issues related to immigration, be informed about the public policy discussion, and be informed by getting to know some people in these immigrant communities.

Take advantage of some opportunities to serve in some immigrant communities. Work through your church or through other nonprofits to have opportunities to serve, and actually get to know some people who are in these communities. That’d be a first step.

Second, once you begin to formulate your thinking about what immigration policy should be, it’s entirely appropriate to advocate for what you think ought to be done, to write your congressperson, write your state assembly or state senator, or write your county commissioner, or whatever local government level you think is appropriate.

Third, pray. Pray that we have an immigration policy that actually works, and that will be fair to those who have waited in line and followed immigration law, but also not close the door to people who are increasingly desperate when they’re coming into our country.

Books and articles that equip you for deeply biblical thinking and ministry.

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What Does The Bible Really Say About Immigration


Baltimore, Md. Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang of World Relief just released supplemental curriculum to their new book Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate. This great new resource for Christians, called Discovering and Living Gods Heart for Immigrants: A Guide to Welcoming the Stranger, helps unpack what it looks like to balance Biblical compassion and justice in the middle of todays refugee crisis. This curriculum is an invaluable, timely tool for Christians and reveals what the Bible says about caring for the stranger.

In todays emotionally-charged political climate, having a rational conversation about immigration and how the Bible addresses it can be difficult. Soerens and Yang, U.S. Director of Church Mobilization and VP of Advocacy and Policy for World Relief respectively, help churches, families and discussion groups understand and reconcile the complex topic of immigration with the Bible, putting into practice the principles they share in Welcoming the Stranger. There are numerous ways for Americans to serve their immigrant neighbors and speak out concerning immigration reform when they understand how God views the immigrant with both justice and compassion this book enables Christians to do so.

Each of the six sections includes:

What others are saying about Welcoming the Stranger:

We Will All Be Strangers Sometime

The Bible affirms strongly and unequivocally the obligation to treat strangers with dignity and hospitality.

In Love the Stranger, an article written for the annual meeting of the College Theological Society in 1991, biblical scholar Alice Laffey stated that in the Hebrew Bible, the words gûr and gr are the ones most often glossed as referring to the stranger, though they are also translated as newcomer and alien or resident alien, respectively.

In the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, the word gr appears almost 50 times, and the fifth book, Deuteronomy, delineates a number of specific provisions for treating the stranger not just with courtesy but also with active support and provision.

For example, the book of Deuteronomy sets out the requirement that a portion of produce be set aside by farmers every third year for strangers, widows and orphans. In the temple sermon attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, the Jewish people are exhorted to not oppress the sojourner.

Within the Hebrew Bible the requirements of hospitality are sometimes affirmed in very striking ways, as in the story from the book of Judges in which a host offers his own daughter to ruffians in order to safeguard his guest.

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