For many reasons including racism, religious intolerance, and economic bias, there are those who want to increase the punishment of those entering illegally, and to limit those entering legally to certain countries, and certain social or economic status. Because of the complexities of dealing with all the illegal immigrants now in the country, and how to stop the flow of others entering illegally, along with making needed changes to current law, the solution of those in government is to do nothing.
This “do nothing” attitude has resulted in vastly different proposed solutions ranging from arresting and prosecuting all those entering the country illegally including separating parents and children; with the other extreme, while not ignoring the illegality, is much less harsh treatment. For legal immigration, the differences are no less divergent. On the one hand there are those who want no major change in policy. The differing view is that we make all immigration merit based using a system that, considers the applicant’s education, skills, and economic status above familial relationships which is the most important consideration under current immigration law.
Christians are on both sides of the issue of both legal and illegal immigration. Since Christians are to live and govern by the principles of Scripture, we should look at what the Bible says about immigration.
We all know that two years ago the then US Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrongfully used Romans 13 to justify the actions of the government in separating families, including minor children, of those caught entering the country illegally. This is what Attorney General Sessions said.
"I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order."
The then White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Sessions, saying, "It is very biblical to enforce the law."
This is the complete text to which he was referring.
Romans 13:1-5 NIV 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.
The Bible is clear that there is nothing to prohibit a country from having completely open or completely closed borders. The Scripture that Attorney Sessions misquoted also gives the government the authority to punish lawbreakers. Whether the punishment is imprisonment, deportation, something more severe, or even something less severe it is within the rights of the government to determine.
I agree that supporting, enabling, and/or encouraging illegal immigration is, therefore, a violation of God’s Word. Those seeking to immigrate to another country should always obey the immigration laws of that country. While this may cause delays and frustrations, it is better than acting illegally. A frustrating law is still a law.
My issue is not with the law but its enforcement which I believe is without compassion. You can punish without malice. You can punish with compassion. There is a real price to pay for breaking the rules, but that punishment shouldn't break the offender.
It is completely within the rights of citizens to seek to change immigration laws. If it is your conviction that an immigration law is unjust, do everything that is legally within your power to get the law changed: pray, petition, vote, peacefully protest, etc. As Christians, we should be the first to seek to change any law that is unjust. At the same time, we are also to demonstrate our submission to God by obeying the government He has placed in authority over us.
If you disagree with the government and its authority here in the United States, we are blessed with the freedom to challenge that government and to change it.
- The freedom to have a say in government
- The freedom to petition the government
The freedom to petition the government is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution. This freedom includes having the right to collect signatures on a petition, to engage in lobbying activities, and to protest government leaders if they do something with which we disagree.
One way the freedom to petition the government has been explained is as follows: "A simpler definition of the right to petition is 'the right to present requests to the government without punishment or reprisal.'"