What The Bible Says On Illegal Immigration

I received this message from a friend on social media recently:

“Have you ever done any research on what Jesus would think of our immigration or border control? I’d really be interested in that. I read a republican pundit talking about how Jesus would be in favor of border control. I’m just not sure about that at all.”

Which made me ask this question:


So I live in Texas, where hats are big, summers are hot, and immigration reform is on everyone’s mind. In case you don’t know, Texas is divided from Mexico by a river. Daily many immigrants pour across the US / Mexico border.

To add to the tension, Donald Trump… well you know. 

There are lots of word slingers, pundits, and commentators, who are giving their opinions, but something that seems to be missing from the debate is the biblical perspective. You could almost get the idea that the Bible doesn’t say anything about foreigners. That is simply not the case, however.

There are so many verses about how to deal with this topic in the Bible that I can barely scratch the surface in this post. Since there seems to be an itch, let’s do some surface scratching.

Here are some of the words that the Bible uses to describe a person who comes from another land: Immigrants, foreigners, sojourners, strangers, and aliens. So as you look at the scriptures posted here, pay close attention to those words.

What does the Old Testament say about Immigrants?

So God originally gave his book of law to the Jewish people living in Israel. One of the things that the law dealt with was how to treat those who are from other lands. Here is a great text on that subject.

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing.  So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.

So that verse seems pretty clear right? We should be able to stop the post right here. Why do we need any more explanation? If you missed it, go back and read those simple words. He says, “So you, too, must show love to foreigners…” Foreigners are to be treated with love and respect. It doesn’t say whether these foreigners have entered the country illegally or not, so we have to assume that this applies to ALL foreigners. It gives a pretty clear understanding of what is expected of the individual citizens of the nation.

Obviously immigration is a political issue, and there are legal aspects to this discussion. That, however, doesn’t change what God expects of me. Law makers, politicians, and government officials have a difficult task of sorting out the legality of immigration, and reforming the system. That, however, will be sorted out regardless of whether I am opposed to it or not. Regardless of what the law of the land is, Deuteronomy is clear, my personal responsibility is to show love to those who are from another land, regardless of how they got here.

You might be thinking, “well that’s the old testament, and their political system and society was different than ours, so it doesn’t apply.”

Let’s see if the New Testament has anything to say about foreigners… googling… googling… googling… oh here’s a list of 100… hmm… let’s just pick one. How about this.

Matthew 25.31-33 & 41-46 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left…
   (25.41-46)…“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
   “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
   “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
   “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

In the verses above, we see Christ on the judgment seat. He divides the sheep (those who have believed in him for eternal life) from the goats (those who have not believed in him for eternal life).

This Judgment comes after the tribulation. John prophesied that during the tribulation, there will be a time when the Jewish people become believers in Christ and spread out all over the world to share the gospel. However, at that time it will be illegal to preach Christ, and these Jewish evangelists will be hunted down and murdered by the world governments. The only way these Jewish evangelists can survive is on the kindness and support of gentiles.

So these Jewish Evangelists that Jesus calls “my brothers and sisters” are technically illegal immigrants.

To both the sheep and the goats he brings up how they treated these Jewish illegal immigrants.

So Jesus rewards the sheep (believers) because they welcomed the Jewish illegal immigrants into their homes, fed them and gave them clothes, when he says “you are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom”

He then reprimands the goats (unbelievers) for not welcoming the Jewish illegal immigrants. Don’t misunderstand this. They are condemned, because they did not have faith alone in Christ, not because they denied the ‘foreigners’. However, it’s such a big deal to Jesus that he mentions it when he’s building a case against them.

What’s more, the goats (unbelievers) followed the law. In this particular situation it was lawful to not aid the Jewish illegals. However, Christ’s law is higher. He demands that these ‘strangers’ be loved even if it is against the law of the land.

So those that stand before Christ at this judgment will be rewarded or reprimanded based on how they treated a certain group of illegal aliens. It is apparently very important to Jesus how we treat those from other lands, regardless of whether they arrived legally or not. So the question is, “have you fed a foreigner lately?”

Let’s Build a wall!

One of the most practiced foreign policy is wall building. The taller, the thicker, the better. When the conflict gets bloody we erect concrete and steel ramparts. Like children being separated at recess walls have split East and West Berlin, Jerusalem and Palistine, China and Mongolia, Texas and Mexico… and the list goes on. Walls go up to keep foreigners out. We then guard the gates with machine guns and 24 hour surveillance.

Jesus talked often about the coming Kingdom of God. Even his future capital city will have walls and gates.

What will Jesus’ border control look like?

In Revelation 21 we see this amazing image of what the eternal Kingdom of God will be like. John is being shown a vision of the Holy City, the capital of the new world with Christ as High King. He actually mentions their border control policy.

Revelation 21.23-25 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there.

From Revelation 21 we learn that in his Kingdom there will still be nations, and kings (governors subordinate to Christ as High King). If there are nations, there are borders.  How does he execute border control? HE LEAVES THE GATES OPEN! (vs25) He allows anyone who is righteous, and who has their name written in the lamb’s book of life to come and go as they please. He says, “and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory.” He welcomes the dignitaries of these nations openly. Wow, his border control is very different than ours.

I understand that there have to be policies and laws in place. We live in a brutal fallen world, after all. I am not advocating that there should be no laws. The government obviously has a responsibility to protect it’s people from criminals. However, that does not absolve us of our duty to love and respect any and everyone who is part of the human race, illegal aliens included.

I long for the day when border control is no longer needed. When the Kingdom of God is finally present on the earth. This verse in Hebrews sums up my feelings on the subject. After talking about the heroes of the faith, and how they often did not fit in, the writer says this.

Hebrews 11.16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

If you are a believer in Christ, you are a citizen of the future Kingdom of God. You’re experience in that kingdom, the amount you will be rewarded, and your closeness to Christ, may very well be determined by how you treat illegal immigrants (along with other aspects of godly living.) Also in Hebrews it gives this warning about turning away foreigners.

Hebrews 13.2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!

So, the bible is very clear that our personal responsibility is to show hospitality and love to those from other lands. As believers our first loyalty should be to our brother and sister citizens of the Kingdom Of God. Although we hope that our terrestrial patriotism is strong, our eternal patriotism should be stronger.  Those who cross the border into our country are either believers, which makes them our Christian brothers and sisters, or they are not believers which makes them our mission field. Either way, we have a duty to love them.

No matter what our political views are, we can’t escape the fact that God expects us to show love to these strangers, foreigners, aliens, immigrants, and out-of-towners. No doubt, the capital will reform immigration laws again, and again, and again. It’s all a reminder that this world is not our home. We long for a heavenly country, where the borders are never closed, and there is never any night.

Still not convinced? Here is a ridiculously long list of verses for further study on the immigration issue. (It was compiled by openbible.info)

Leviticus 19:33-34 / Matthew 25:35 / Exodus 22:21 / Malachi 3:5 / Deuteronomy 27:19 / Hebrews 13:2 / Zechariah 7:9-10 / Jeremiah 7:5-7 / Ezekiel 47:22 / Leviticus 25:35 / Proverbs 31:8-9 / Deuteronomy 10:18 / Philippians 3:20 / Deuteronomy 26:5 / Matthew 5:46-47 / Matthew 2:14 / Mark 12:30-31 / Micah 6:8 / Luke 13:29 / Ruth 1:16 / Luke 13:29-30 / Psalm 137:1-9 / Genesis 12:1 / Deuteronomy 10:18-19 /Leviticus 19:10 / Exodus 23:9 / Deuteronomy 10:19 / Acts 28:2 / Matthew 5:40-42 / Numbers 15:15 / Leviticus 23:22 / Genesis 18:1-8 / James 2:1-4 / Deuteronomy 23:15-16 / Isaiah 56:3-5 / Isaiah 16:3-4 / Matthew 2:13-15 / Joshua 20:2 / Deuteronomy 14:29 / 1 Chronicles 16:19-23 / Ezekiel 11:16 / Ruth 1:6 / Deuteronomy 23:16 / Exodus 21:13 / Matthew 9:37-38 / 2 Timothy 3:12 / Ephesians 2:14 / Luke 3:5-7 / Matthew 2:12 / Zechariah 14:5 / Proverbs 16:18 / 1 Kings 8:41 / Luke 12:39 / Mark 7:28 / 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 / 1 Peter 5:9 / Hebrews 13:9 / Hebrews 11:16 / Acts 8:1-8 / John 10:10 / Matthew 10:23 / Matthew 3:7 / Zechariah 8:20-23 / Micah 5:7-15 / Micah 4:10 / Jonah 1:1-17 / Amos 8:11-12 / Ezekiel 12:1-4 / Ezekiel 6:8-9 / Jeremiah 6:1 / Isaiah 55:5 / Isaiah 49:6 / Isaiah 32:18 / Isaiah 18:1-7 / Psalm 104:8-10 / Psalm 31:1-3 / Nehemiah 7:4 / 2 Chronicles 26:10 / 2 Chronicles 6:32 / 2 Chronicles 2:17-18 / 1 Chronicles 4:38-41 / 2 Kings 17:24-41 / 2 Kings 17:6 / 2 Kings 8:1 / 1 Kings 2:3 / 2 Samuel 14:16 / 2 Samuel 14:14 / Deuteronomy 1:1-34:12 / Numbers 35:9-34 / 2 Peter 2:5-10

About Lucas

Lucas is a staff writer with simply belief, and sci-fi/fantasy novelist. He has a B.S. in Bible, Psychology, and History/Political Science. He lives and writes from his home office in East Texas with his wife, daughter, and cat.