by David Schnittger
We are hearing a lot in the news about the subject of deportation since the inauguration of President Trump. Deportations of illegal aliens have increased, particularly those with criminal convictions. Even some with no criminal histories are being deported. This is giving rise to controversy within the Christian community as to whether it is biblically correct to deport those who have not committed crimes within America.
Let me offer the views of one Christian in this regard:
“Half of Latino Christians worry about themselves or someone close to them getting deported, according to the Pew Research Center. Many Hispanics are praying for protection as the U.S. government announces plans for more and quicker deportations for undocumented immigrants . . .
“Samuel Rodriguez, one of President Trump’s advisers, and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference recently stated, ‘I ask the administration to enact and fulfill the promise President Trump made not to harm families and exclusively deport those involved in nefarious activities. Please help us keep families together.’
“I agree. We should deport criminals, and those who refuse to work and pay taxes. But we should not make criminals out of honest folks.”
This author goes on to present his biblical rational for his views:
“Here’s an idea. Why don’t we love our neighbors as we love ourselves? If we wish to live by the values of our Savior, let’s pay closer attention to what He said in Matthew 25:35-36. He made it clear that when His people show hospitality to strangers, they welcome Him.
“God ‘defends the cause of the fatherless and widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you’ (Deuteronomy 10:18-19). This thought is repeated throughout the Old Testament. The ancient wisdom of the Bible provides a better way of thinking than the obsessive fear, ethnic bigotry and inflammatory rhetoric that’s causing our neighbors to worry about the future.”
Since this is a publicly stated position, it is permissible to render a public analysis. My analysis will proceed along three lines: Faulty language, faulty logic and faulty exegesis.
Anyone who is conversant in the art of persuasion is aware that the skillful use of words is essential to advancing one’s position. Words carry with them an emotional connotation, either positive or negative. For example, the term “pro-life” has a more positive connotation that the designation “anti-abortion” which delivers a negative emotional impact.
In the same way, the use of the term “undocumented immigrants” is a skillfully benign term used by open border advocates. It conveys the idea that these are people of equal virtue as legal immigrants, but they just failed to secure their paperwork. It implies that they are guilty of nothing more than a clerical error. It ignores the fact that the United States has had a legal immigration system throughout its national history. This is a system that has been carefully designed by our government to protect the health and welfare of American citizens. These “undocumented immigrants” have chosen to ignore and disobey those just and prudent laws and sneak into this country. In reality, they are “illegal aliens.”
To benignly label these law breakers as “undocumented immigrants” confers upon them a dignity and virtue that is unearned. It would be like squatters who broke into your home while you were away on vacation and who declared upon your return that they were “undocumented homeowners.” How would you feel if the home and possessions you had worked for your entire life to obtain were suddenly taken from you by these “undocumented homeowners?” Wouldn’t you feel a sense of violation and injustice? In the same way, if you or your ancestors came into this country through the strictures and requirements of the legal immigration system that grants the privilege of American citizenship, shouldn’t you rightly feel a sense of violation and injustice toward the approximately 30 million people who have come in through stealth and deception?
A second misleading term used in regard to illegal aliens is to characterize them as “honest folks.” Do “honest folks” set aside the just and prudent laws of our country, sneak across our borders and proceed to take jobs and benefits reserved to those who have earned the rights of American citizens? That is not my definition of honesty. They are no more “honest” than thieving squatters who attempt to steal your home while you are away.
There is also an appeal to our emotions in the phrase, “Please help us keep families together.” Open borders advocates rarely mention the families that will never be together again because of murders committed by illegal aliens. For example, the family of Kate Steinle, brutally murdered by an illegal alien that had previously been deported on several occasions, will never be together again. Thousands of American families will never be “together again” because of murders committed by illegal aliens. Don’t American families deserve our love and consideration, or is this only reserved for illegal aliens?
The article goes on to state, “It is easy for children of privilege to forget that our ancestors came from somewhere else. America is a nation of immigrants. The Declaration of Independence states that ‘all men are created equal and that they are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights’, especially the right to life and freedom. Human rights are based on the fact that human beings bear the image of God. This is what it means to be human. If we believe this, it will inform our thinking about immigration policy.”
This author is advocating a “forgive and forget” approach to those who have, through stealth and dishonesty, trampled our immigration laws, in order to enjoy the unearned benefits of citizenship. The logic of this position leans in the direction of saying that those who did not cut to the front of the line, and who instead chose to follow costly and lengthy legal immigration process were “chumps” and “fools”. After all, if these “undocumented immigrants” are just like the rest of us, why even bother with immigration laws? Why not invite the other 7.2 billion humans on this planet to sneak across our borders and enjoy the neighborly love of American Christians? Why shouldn’t these future “undocumented immigrants” who are made in the image of God enjoy the same privileges of those “honest” and “law abiding” neighbors who crept into our country in the past? It’s only fair isn’t it?
Deuteronomy 10:18-19 was quoted by the “undocumented immigrants” advocate as providing the biblical basis for his views. The text reads: “God defends the cause of the fatherless and widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you.” It is important to consider the biblical requirements for the foreigners that resided in Israel. We read in Exodus 12:48-49:
“And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that that sojourneth among you.”
Strangers were required to keep the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10), observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Deuteronomy 16:14), bring the appropriate sacrifices (Numbers 15:27-29), observe the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 12:49), and obey all the commandments, statutes, and judgment of God’s Law (Exodus 12:49).
Old Testament scholar, James K. Hoffmeier, has written a book entitled, The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible (Crossway, 2009). In this book, he deals with the issue of “strangers” and “foreigners” in Old Testament Israel, and concludes: “From the foregoing texts we can conclude that in the ancient biblical world, countries had borders that were protected and respected, and that foreigners who wanted to reside in another country had to obtain some sort of permission in order to be considered an alien with certain rights and privileges.” Thus to conflate and confuse Old Testament “foreigners” who entered Israel by permission and who obeyed the laws and religious practices of Israel, with illegal aliens who sneak into our country and disdain American laws demonstrates faulty exegesis.
It is my view that there is nothing unjust or oppressive about America’s Federal Immigration laws. They are designed to protect American citizens and preserve American culture. The problem is that, for the last 30 years, the Federal government has not been enforcing its own immigration laws. Because of that, our country is plagued with between 11 to 30 million illegal aliens at a cost to the American taxpayer of $346 billion dollars annually according to the National Research Council. Therefore, to deport those who came into our country illegally and in disregard to American laws is not unchristian or a violation of the Scriptures. I would argue that doing anything less than deporting illegal aliens spells the eventual death of the American culture, as occurred in both ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Borders, language and culture are the essence of a sovereign nation. All are being destroyed because of the open borders policy of the last 30 years. I applaud and support President Trump’s efforts to put America First!