By Amanda Moser
In the case of many controversial political issues, Christians turn to the Bible for guidance, holding steadfastly to the passages and history upon which they found their arguments. As a Christian, I am in full support of the practice of looking to God’s Word for clarity on any occasion, practical or political. For this reason, I am surprised and disappointed that in the case of immigration, instead of looking to the Bible which addresses the issue numerous times — moreso even than abortion or same sex marriage — many abandon their research in favor of popular politics. Still, we are clearly instructed how we should receive people in need and shown that we ultimately have a duty to advocate for justice on their behalf.
For instance, Leviticus 19:33-34 says, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” Besides the explicit statement directly stating how we should respond to this issue, the personal address concerning the reason why we should respond with love stands out to me. As true as it was for the Israelites in Egypt, “for you were foreigners” is true for nearly every U.S. citizen. This land was not our own — it was unjustly seized from natives. Therefore, it would be hypocritical to deny those who come to escape toxic homes and make better lives for themselves.
Christians who have a problem with the illegal aspect of immigration must realize that we live in a country where we have the privilege to advocate for reform, thus fostering an environment of acceptance in a legal context. Even for applicants with sponsors in the States, the system we have in place for undocumented persons makes it extremely difficult for those seeking refuge or a new start to reside here legally. According to the American Immigration Center, “If you are the child or spouse of a green card holder, you are in the second preference. The wait for a US visa in this category can be five to ten years. If you are the married child of a US citizen, you are in third preference. The wait for a US visa in this category can be eight years.” For most, the wait is even longer. Meanwhile, they struggle to survive threatening environments.
While it may be a long and complicated process, reform of immigration law is worthwhile. Immigrants do not take for granted the privilege of living here, and because they honor and value what this nation has to offer, most want to give back as law abiding citizens. Like the foreigners seeking to join the Israelites, they wish to both partake and contribute to the community.
Even if a person is unable to follow the law, however, we have a responsibility as believers to give. This situation should be used as an opportunity to show God’s love and share the wealth of blessing placed on this country. In Leviticus 23:22 it says, “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you.” At the very least, our church families should be places of welcoming and sanctuary where people of all backgrounds are cared for as brothers and sisters in Christ. Over and over again Jesus demands our personal involvement in caring for others’ needs. Therefore, it is our duty to show compassion to the foreigner and advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.
Jeremiah 22:3 says “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.” This is not a suggestion but a command. Isaiah 58:6-7 says, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice […] to set the oppressed free […]? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” It is essential that we recognise that, first and foremost, we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We should have no concern for the human constructs of borders when it comes to the well being of a brother or sister.