Falsehood—Loving Immigrants Means Supporting Open Boarders

Falsehood—Loving Immigrants Means Supporting Open Boarders

Scripture describes a subset of King David’s “Mighty Men” from the tribe of Issachar as men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do (1 Chron 12:32). That is a description of the band of brothers this podcast is seeking to build—men who understand their times because they view culture through a biblical lens—and who therefore know what their families, churches, and nation should do. As we continue this month’s series on false worldviews that lead our loved ones astray, today, we dig into what the Bible says about the Christian’s responsibility to care well for immigrants, who are called sojourners or resident aliens in Scripture.

When faced with the sight of millions of men, women, and children from war-torn lands seeking to escape tyranny to have a better life, most Christians will voice their approval for open door policies of inclusion, hospitality, diversity and welcome. Some Christians have even argued that failure to have such open-hearted attitudes towards these immigrants is sinfully, selfishly, letting “the gods of fear and security dictate how we respond.” (Mark Galli, Christianity Today). Does the biblical call to care for the sojourner and resident alien, imply that those with true Christ-like love for non-Americans requires us to throw open our boarders to all who want to enter? Jesus, did teach that true believers will hear from Jesus, “I was a STRANGER and you WELCOMED me.” Doesn’t this settle the issue—All Christians must be welcoming to immigrants who want to come into our country. Your children and grandchildren are hearing that argument. Let's attempt to think biblically about the hot topic today of illegal, undocumented, immigrants coming across our southern border.


At the core of Christian ethics is the recognition that every human being has dignity as God’s image-bearer, which requires us to care for every human, no matter what his or her social status. Scripture particularly identifies those holding the lowest status for intentional care—widows, orphans, the poor, and immigrants. The OT is filled with laws and narratives about immigrants. Israelites were commanded to provide for them through an agrarian welfare system, where foreigners could glean from an Israelite’s field (Dt 24:19-22) and were required to pay immigrants in a timely manner for their work (Dt 24:15). The Israelites were repeatedly warned not to oppress the widow, the orphan, or sojourner, in words like these in Deuteronomy 24: You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow's garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this (vs 17-18). The prophets frequently called down fire on anyone who claimed to be a follower of Yahweh and mistreated a foreigner. 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. (Jer 22:3). Indeed, Malachi puts mistreatment of immigrants on a level with sorcery and adultery: Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers…against those who oppress widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner (Mal 3:5).

The NT concern for immigrants is perhaps even more clear. Jesus was a refugee, fleeing with his family from Herod. He confronted his hometown elders over their racist attitudes towards gentile outsiders. He attacked the bigoted Jewish hatred for the Samaritans. Peter tells Christians that we, ourselves, are sojourners in a foreign land. Such status as foreigners should give us a new heart for others who find themselves in similar situations. Moreover, Jesus taught that on judgement day, he will look at true Christians and say, “I was a stranger and you WELCOMED me” and look at those damned to hell and say, “I was a stranger and you did NOT WELCOME me” (Matt 25:35-43). Here are some implications for a correct attitude towards immigrants:

  • Closing our hearts to the plight of the worldwide poor or oppressed immigrants seeking to flee to our nation is never appropriate.
  • Supporting a completely closed border, i.e. not having a legitimate way to admit any immigrants legally is, in my view, not a biblical option. As those whose citizenship is in heaven and who are called to a heart of compassion—shutting out the needy because they are not of OUR tribe is wrong.
  • I see no biblical basis for a merit-based system of legal immigration, which some Republican politicians have proposed. That seems the epitome of selfishness and American ethnocentrism. Though difficult to implement, opening our doors to those seeking asylum to escape oppression still seems most biblical to me.
  • Unquestionably, outreach to the immigrant population, whether here legally or illegally, must be as high a priority as reaching out to the poor, homeless, widows, and orphans.


The above argument to support justice and provide care for immigrants living in our land provides zero evidence for throwing open the borders of our nation.

  • The biblical commands require justice and care for immigrants already living in our land. This is an extension of the second great commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. God is not addressing the issue of eliminating national borders, nor care for those of other nations.
  • To suggest that love for immigrants requires throwing open the doors of the nation would be like saying that love for our neighbor prevents every Hebrew or Christian family from closing the doors of their house to others at night.
  • God considers national boundaries important enough to say, When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples (Dt 32:8). In Acts 17:26, we see the same truth, that God himself established boundaries, making distinctions between different groups of people. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.
  • Although authors, like Dan Carroll, in his book, Christians at the Boarder, and Preston Sprinkle in his blog, “A Christian Response to Undocumented Immigrants” attempt to justify the un-enforcement of immigration laws protecting our boarder as civil disobedience, they have no Biblical case for doing so. Since there is zero biblical teaching that makes open boarders a moral imperative, disagreeing with your nation’s immigration policy is no biblical justification for civil disobedience. Scripture permits civil disobedience only when a believer is compelled by the government to violate the clear command of Scripture. There is no verse of Scripture that gives a person the moral right to live in whatever land he or she chooses. It is an unbiblical stretch to turn the calling of all Christians to love their immigrant neighbors into a moral principle that gives every human a right to live in any country he wants to.  
  • The argument that many deserving people can’t get into our country legally because the ones who do get in legally have the money to bribe officials has no merit. Bribery is part of every government in the world. The problem of human sin is not solved by an irresponsible U.S. border policy that has no control over who enters our country.


In Paul’s command in Romans 13 to submit to government authorities he gives us great insight about God’s purpose that lies behind giving the power of the sword to the state.

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. Notice the principle behind the civil magistrate, for he is God's servant FOR YOUR GOOD. The purpose of civil government is your good. God has instituted government to protect citizens from harm. The word good is closely linked to the word beneficial in biblical thought just as Paul’s negative words, wrong and bad are linked to causing harm. Government is instituted by God to prevent harm to citizens. Classically, the right to self-defense and to defend your nation against a military invasion is rooted in Paul’s teaching here. So, God’s ordained purpose for government is to protect from harm. For this reason, border security is indisputably required by God because it is a necessary part of protecting citizens.

A. A biblical worldview begins by discovering the facts. Proverbs 13:6 says, Every prudent man acts with knowledge. Proverbs 14:15 gives good advice to those of us whose only news source is social media. The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps. If you do not know about the present human suffering caused by the refusal of the Biden administration to enforce immigration law at the borders, you need to find a news source that will tell you the truth. Less than a week after taking office, the Biden administration reversed 94 executive orders that the previous administration had implemented to enforce immigration law. For three and a half years this administration has refused to enforce immigration law, which has led to immeasurable suffering. As an update, just three days ago, El Passo’s Migrant Dashboard showed that last Thursday, March 21, 2024, on just one day, from just one location, 743 immigrants who had tried to cross the border illegally were released from custody into the United States, instead of returned to their home country as immigration law stipulates. Let’s consider this policy’s cost.

  • Unenforced immigration law PROMOTES human trafficking. “In the U.S., immigrants, especially immigrant women, make up the largest portion of trafficking victims. The State Department estimates that in 2016, 57,700 victims had been trafficked into the U.S. Studies done by the Latin American branch of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women estimates that 60% of Latin American children who set out to cross the border alone or with smugglers have been caught by the cartels and are being sold as sex slaves, abused in child pornography, or forced to help get drugs across the border.” (Congress.Gov, “How Porous Borders Fuel Human Trafficking in the United States”). This horrific depravity alone is cause enough for all Americans, especially Christians, to recognize the evil of refusing to enforce immigration laws at the southern border.
  • Unenforced immigration laws EMPOWER drug cartels to kill Americans. The 2000-mile southern side of the American/Mexican border is now 100% controlled by Mexican drug cartels, who own 25,000 drones used to spot border patrols and drop illegal drugs over the border. Not only has unenforced immigration law caused inconceivable quantities of illegal drugs to spread all through American cities, now we are seeing prescription drugs laced with fentanyl killing our college students. This is not a political statement by me, but a personal one. Last year I wept with a father whose heart was crushed by the death of his 21-year-old son, a student at MIT because he took a prescription drug laced with fentanyl. According to the DEA, for Americans ages 18-45, the leading cause of death is an overdose of fentanyl, nearly all of which the refusal to enforce immigration laws allows to come in.
  • Unenforced immigration laws ENABLE known terrorists to cross the border. On October 31, 2023, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, reported that 169 individuals had been apprehended at the southern border in 2023 who were on the U.S. terror watch list. And those were the ones caught; she did not speculate on the “got aways. She said the number of individuals on the U.S. terror watchlist who tried to cross the border to that point in 2023 constituted a “tenfold increase” from the fiscal year 2021 numbers (capito.senate.gov). Just a few weeks ago, a member of the terrorist group, Hezbollah, Basel Bassel Ebbadi, 22, was caught by the U.S. Border Patrol near El Paso, Texas. While in custody, he was asked what he was doing in the U.S., to which he replied, “I’m going to try to make a bomb.” Ebbadi told Border Patrol he had seven years of training with Hezbollah. Again, a reminder. God assigns civil government the responsibility of protecting its citizens from harm.
  • Unenforced immigration laws WELCOME hardened murderers and rapists. On February 22, 2024, Laken Riley, a 22-year-old American nursing student at Augusta University, was abducted and killed while she was jogging at the  University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia by José Antonio Ibarra, a 26-year-old Venezuelan who had entered the United States illegally. ICE confirmed that the suspect was caught crossing the border but was released into the United States. ICE also confirmed that the New York City Police Department arrested Ibarra back in September and charged him with acting in a manner to injure a child under 17. But since NYC is a sanctuary city, he was released. Open border advocates argue that many people are murdered; so, Laken’s death is just being used politically. But it remains a stubborn fact that will not go away. Laken Riley lost her life because the Biden administration and the NY City Government did NOT do what God says governments are ordained by him to do: protect its citizens from harm.

B. There is zero biblical teaching to support a moral imperative to allow all immigrants indiscriminately into a nation. This idea is rooted in critical theory, which sees immigrants as the oppressed group and rich Americans as the oppressors. But the Bible says, there is a moral imperative to protect our border. Loving our neighbor as ourselves requires Christians to protect those around us from the evils that irrefutably accompany government leaders’ decisions not to enforce immigration laws. As Kevin DeYoung points out.

I don’t doubt that the vast majority of displaced persons are simply looking for peace and a new chance at life. But does anyone doubt there may also be a small number of extremists waiting in the same line? Is it unChristian to not want radical jihadists shooting people in our communities? That’s hardly a far-fetched scenario. Christian charity means loving the safety of the neighbor next door at least as much as loving the safe passage of the neighbor far away (thegospelcoaltion.org/blogs “Immigration Policy Must be Based on More than an Appeal to Compassion”).


The Facts: While most immigrants are in compliance with U.S. law, a significant minority—likely between 10.7 million and 12 million, based on nonpartisan and governmental estimates—are not present in the United States lawfully. Just over half of those individuals crossed a border illegally, while an estimated 4.5 million, including two-thirds of those who have arrived since 2014, entered lawfully on temporary visas but overstayed their visas. (evangelicalimmigrationtable.com)

Ministry to Existing Immigrant Population: I believe that the biblical data calling believers to care well for the sojourner in our land, though providing no evidence whatsoever for having an unprotected boarder does have great implications for how we treat existing immigrants, including those that are here illegally. Christians seeking to be faithful to the Scriptures want to show kindness and compassion to these individuals but are also bound to respect the law. It is true that many undocumented immigrants have chosen to come to the U.S. illegally under very difficult circumstances, fleeing serious economic hardship or even persecution. However, except for those brought as minors or trafficked to the U.S. against their will, they still did knowingly break U.S. law. This is why I believe amnesty is the wrong approach; it communicates that the law doesn’t matter. Even when laws don’t work well, they shouldn’t simply be ignored.

In my view and that of many Christians including John Piper, the best way forward in the treatment of illegal immigrants, which both respects the law and keeps families together is an earned legalization process. This would include the payment of a monetary fine as restitution for adults who willfully violated U.S. immigration laws. Of course, a criminal background check should also be a part of that process, and anyone convicted of a serious crime should be excluded and deported. The Christian call to compassion for all immigrants, including those who entered illegally DOES matter in my view. But it matters not because it leads to support for unenforced borders but because it leads to mercy and compassion towards illegal immigrants already here. One prominent group of Evangelical thinkers reasons this way:

“Most of the undocumented immigrants in U.S. churches are actually very eager to make things right, and they would be happy to pay a fine and meet other qualifications to eventually have the chance to be lawful permanent residents of the United States, a country most have come to love and see as their home. For many who have lived under both the fear and shame associated with their unlawful status for many years, the opportunity to earn legal status would feel akin to the biblical Year of Jubilee, a time of redemption, when debts were canceled (see Leviticus 25:8-17) If the law is truly to be respected, we should ensure the integrity of the U.S. immigration system going forward: That means doing everything possible to deter illegal immigration, including pursuing secure borders, but also facilitating legal immigration: not without limit, but in ways that meet the needs of the U.S. labor market, that keep families together, and that allow the country to continue to serve as a place of refuge for some of the most vulnerable persecuted people in the world, consistent with the best of the history and values of the United States of America” (Ibid).

For Further Prayerful Thought:

  1. Why do you think so many Americans are unaware of what is happening at the southern boarder?
  2. Of the categories of harm that un-enforcement of immigration policies brings—human trafficking, spread of drugs including fentanyl, terrorism, and attacks from hardened criminals, which concern you the most?
  3. How would you respond, biblically to the fallacy that for Christians to properly care for immigrants we must we welcoming to all who want to come to our nation, including those crossing the border illegally?
  4. What biblical principles do you think apply to our treatment of illegal immigrants who are already in our country?