the bible on immigration
The Old Testament has much to say about “aliens.” Those who live in Israel who are not Jewish. Examples.
Ex 22:21 "Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.
Dt 10:19 And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.
Ex 12:49 The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you."
The “alien in your midst” was to be treated well and was to follow the laws of Israel.
In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of strangers in general. Those you don’t know.
Mt 25:35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Jesus isn’t talking about government response to immigrants. He is talking about how Christians are to treat people. A person who is here legally or illegally is to be treated as a human being and cared for if in need. These words are addressed to Christians. Jesus has no specific instruction for human government.
The Bible does have clear guidelines for the immigrant who is Christian, as well. For the Christian who is in the United States legally there are specific instructions for public behavior. The same guidelines apply to Christians who are here illegally. Here are the guidelines clearly stated.
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For 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 he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
The biblical picture is not complex on this issue. There is no “gray” here.
If you are a Christian you help anyone in need.
If you are a Christian you don’t break the laws of a country.
The simplistic response to say, “Jesus would welcome the stranger,” doesn’t do justice to the careful thinking of the Bible on an issue like immigration.