Christ-Centered Immigration Policy


"Today, just as thousands of years ago, immigrants 'are part of the plan of God for the unfolding of world history.'"—Daniel Carroll

The key to immigration reform is found in the Bible.

God Loves the Stranger

Much of the Bible reads as the story of God's love for immigrants. Many of the great heroes of the scriptures were wanderers, refugees, or outsiders in some way or another, starting with Abraham. This was the identity of the people of God, which they were commanded to recite every year:

"Then you shall declare before the LORD your God: My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, putting us to hard labor. Then we cried out to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our misery, toil, and oppression. So the LORD brought us out of Egypt … He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey." (Deut. 26: 5-9)

Consider this:

  1. Israelites identified themselves as poor outsiders, the sons and daughters of a landless foreigner.
  2. They immigrated to a wealthy empire, the center of power in the world at that time.
  3. That power saw them as a threat because of their numbers and their distinct cultural identity
  4. The empire used them for cheap labor, but denied them any rights.

Biblical Examples

The parallels between the ancient Israelites in Egypt and the undocumented population in the U.S. today are striking. Most important to remember is that the Israelites, just as immigrants today, were under the protection of a God who heard their cries. In the Hebrew Scriptures, many if not most of those chosen to serve God had some sort of immigrant background.

For example:

Jacob—fled to his mother's native land to avoid his brother's anger (Gen. 27: 41-46)

Joseph—was a victim of human trafficking (Gen. 37: 1-28); his family eventually became economic refugees (Gen. 45:9-11)

The Israelites in Egypt—also victims of human trafficking, without legal rights (Exodus 1)

Moses—sought asylum in a foreign nation in order to avoid capital punishment (Ex. 2:11-15)

Ruth—immigrated in order to keep her family together (Ruth 1); eventually assimilated

David—political refugee; worked under a foreign power (1 Sam. 27)

Elijah—political and economic refugee; forced to live off of charity in a foreign land (1 Kings 17)

The Israelites in the exile—deported from their own homeland (2 Kings 25: 1-12)

Daniel—deportee; struggled against assimilation (Daniel 1)

Esther—daughter of exiles; successfully assimilated into Persian culture (Esther 2:5-7)

Nehemiah—descendant of exiles; successfully assimilated and then returned to his native land (Neh. 1-2)


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

You May Also Want to Read

Comment policy: ESA represents a wide variety of understandings and practices surrounding our shared Christian faith. The purpose of the ESA blog is to facilitate loving conversation; please know that individual authors do not speak for ESA as a whole. Even if you don\'t see yourself or your experience reflected in something you read here, we invite you to experience it anyway, and see if God can meet you there. What can take away from considering this point of view? What might you add? The comments section below is where you can share the answers to those questions, if you feel so moved. Please express your thoughts in ways that are constructive, purposeful, and respectful. Give those you disagree with the benefit of the doubt, and assume they are neither idiots nor evil. Name-calling, sweeping condemnations, and any other comments that suggest you have forgotten that we are all children of God will be deleted. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.