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How should Christians view the illegal immigration crisis?

An illegal migrant man crosses through the banks of the Rio Grande to be processed by the Border Patrol El Paso Sector, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on May 10, 2023.
An illegal migrant man crosses through the banks of the Rio Grande to be processed by the Border Patrol El Paso Sector, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on May 10, 2023. | HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images

A prevalent narrative frequently revisited from time to time is the notion of Jesus as a refugee, interpreted through the lens of the contemporary understanding of the term.

While it can be said that Joseph and Mary were told to go down to Egypt, Joseph and Mary’s departure for Egypt, which was then another part of the Roman Empire (Matt 2:13–14), did not warrant any special recognition. Additionally, it is worth noting that they had the means to travel on their own, courtesy of the gifts from the Magi (Matt 2:11). Finally, after Herod’s death, they returned to their place of origin (Matt 2:19–21), something an actual refugee would not do.

In today’s culture, this story is often told with emotional narratives to discuss immigration in our country. This divisive issue triggers strong responses. Advocates for illegal immigration highlight compassion and the belief that everyone deserves a better life. Others emphasize the law and protecting national sovereignty.

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Illegal immigration encompasses various complex factors, and as Christians, it is vital that we consider this issue from a biblical worldview when assessing the government’s role and responsibilities, as well as the expectations and rights of its citizens.

Border crisis vs. constitutional crisis

The challenge of addressing illegal immigrants has persisted for decades. This reality becomes more pronounced with each election cycle. For instance, former President Donald Trump promised to “build that wall” along the border. In contrast, President Joe Biden conveyed a different message, one of openness to those in need.

Each message presents distinct challenges. Trump’s approach raises concerns about xenophobia and racism. On the other hand, Biden’s policies are forcing cities, previously unaffected by illegal immigration issues, to confront new, unprecedented challenges.

Since 2021, the U.S. Border Patrol has seen record-high levels of illegal migrant encounters. In January 2021, there were 1.7 million encounters, which increased to 2.3 million in 2022 and 2.4 million in 2023. Fiscal year 2024 is expected to surpass these numbers. Under the Biden administration (2021-2023), there were 6.3 million illegal immigrant encounters, a stark increase from the 1.5 million encounters during the Trump administration (2017-2019).

To grasp the sheer magnitude of 6.3 million people entering the United States illegally, consider this: that number surpasses the combined populations of Wyoming, Vermont, the District of Columbia, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, and Montana.

In an effort to reduce the number of illegal immigrants crossing the border, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas National Guard to position concertina wire in crucial border areas strategically. Shelby Park, a 47-acre parkland along the Rio Grande River in downtown Eagle Pass, Texas, is a significant entry point for illegal immigrants.

Tensions rose between Gov. Abbott and the U.S. Border Patrol as federal agents started cutting the wiring put in place, arguing it blocked their movement and ability to help migrants in need. Texas responded with a federal lawsuit, igniting a debate on state vs. federal power. The Supreme Court sided with the federal government, granting agents access to Shelby Park. The conflict persists.

Is America racist?

Since 1970, America has become the top destination for migrants worldwide. The U.S. accepts more immigrants than any other country. For example, in FY2023, 878,500 immigrants became naturalized citizens of the United States. Still, the number of foreign-born individuals in the U.S. has risen from less than 12 million in 1970 to over 50 million in 2020. The largest groups of migrants are from Mexico (10,853,105), India (2,723,764), China (2,184,110), the Philippines (2,061,178), and El Salvador (1,410,659).

Germany comes in at a distant second with 16 million foreign-born individuals in 2020. The magnanimity of native-born Americans and their willingness to shoulder the burdens of others are indisputable. Critics accusing America of racism struggle to convincingly argue their point when examining the issue of immigration.

Given the assumption and evidence of American philanthropy, the issue arises as to whether Americans should expect their elected federal government to safeguard their borders, a duty they themselves have entrusted to the government.

Are borders biblical?

When contemplating the concept of borders or boundaries for a people or nation, it is essential to examine Scripture. Numerous references in the Old Testament discuss lands and their boundaries (Exodus 23:31Numbers 34:1–3Ezekiel 47:13–21). Notably, Abraham was given a promise of land (Genesis 15:18–21), and its boundaries were clearly defined.

Moreover, in Athens, Paul explained the order of creation, proclaiming, “From one man, He (God) made every nation of mankind to inhabit the face of the earth. He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26). This passage not only appeals to the inherent divine nature within humanity (Imago Dei) but also to the notion that each individual has a designated and specific dwelling place.

Scripture reveals that after the dispersion at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9), the people were appointed diverse languages and consequently started congregating with their respective groups. This divine intervention by God was intended to foster separation among people and establish distinct boundaries for their dwelling places. By delving into these Scriptures, we gain valuable insights into the significance of borders.

Alongside boundaries, God instituted governing authorities to safeguard people from wrongdoing and evil. These authorities serve as a protective shield, ensuring the well-being and security of the people. Paul writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13:1–2).

While these Scriptural passages do not provide an explicit biblical stance against illegal immigrants, they do challenge the concept of open borders, often promoted by the left. Additionally, protecting its citizens from harm is a moral obligation that God has given to the government. So, yes, borders and boundaries are clearly biblical.

A failure of epic proportions

In the history of our nation, there has never been such a significant influx of people entering the country illegally within such a short span of time.

The failure to manage and secure the nation’s borders effectively breaches trust with the American people. This has significant repercussions, straining social services and other resources. Illegal immigration threatens national security and the rule of law, fostering a culture that undermines legal entry and fairness for those who follow legal channels for citizenship.

States face the federal government’s shortcomings in dealing with challenges that impact communities. Meeting demands from an unexpected population influx overwhelms schoolshealthcare facilities, and public services. Local governments innovate in real time to mitigate issues without corresponding federal support. The financial burden on states is enormous while navigating complex immigration policies and maintaining public service standards for all citizens.

Furthermore, increasing crime rates in certain areas have become linked to illegal border crossings. Law enforcement agencies face challenges in maintaining public safety due to the surge in criminal activity related to illegal immigration. Weak border security leads to serious consequences, including the rise of transnational gangs and drug and human trafficking. This creates an atmosphere of unease, undermining community trust and highlighting the government’s failure to protect its citizens effectively.


It’s clear that while politicians may often use the complexities of immigration policy to position themselves as bearers of solutions, the Christian perspective calls for a biblical approach. It is incumbent upon believers to sift through political rhetoric and align with those genuinely striving for reform that reflects both moral integrity and respect for human dignity. As believers who value justice and mercy, it is our responsibility to recognize that policies have tangible effects on individuals and families, especially those in the United States who bear the heavy burden of mass immigration.

Moreover, as we acknowledge that illegal immigration is a violation of the law, we must not lose sight of the humanity inherent in others. They are individuals — men, women, and children — who possess an intrinsic value and worth bestowed upon them by God. This necessitates a form of response from both the government and its citizens that safeguards the rights of all, upholds the rule of law, and embodies compassion and grace.

Originally published at the Standing for Freedom Center. 

Virgil L. Walker is the Executive Director of Operations for G3 Ministries, an author, and a conference speaker. He is the co-host of the Just Thinking Podcast. Virgil is passionate about teaching, disciple-making, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Virgil and his wife Tomeka have been married for 26 years and have three children. Listen to his podcast here. 

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