The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Biblical Morality of Border Enforcement (Part 2)

Our Highly Charged Political Environment

Americans are talking about immigration! The recent terrorist attack in Paris is largely believed to have been instigated by at least some unvetted Syrian War refugees that had crossed the national border.1 Similarly, “Two federal agents operating under the umbrella of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are claiming that eight Syrian illegal aliens attempted to enter Texas from Mexico in the Laredo Sector.”2 If ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the Paris attack,3 can infiltrate the unvetted Syrian refugees coming into Europe, the great fear among Americans is that ISIS has similarly infiltrated the Syrian refugees now pouring across the American border and into the United States. Presidential contender Donald Trump has even made altering America’s present lax immigration enforcement as well as the need to deport a plethora of illegal aliens the signature issue of his widely popular national campaign. This week’s shootings in San Bernardino, CA have only intensified the issue. Consequently, in this present highly charged political climate, Americans are now involved in a national dialogue concerning the legitimacy of America’s current lax immigration policies. Many on the political left are questioning the morality of denying the Syrian refugees unfiltered and unvetted access to America. On the other hand, those favoring stricter immigration standards are often labeled as hateful, racist, and xenophobic.

 

As is common in national debates, people often selectively appeal to the Bible in order to garnish support for their political point of view. For example, in Obama’s speech defending his executive amnesty decision late last year, Obama referenced a quote from the Bible, Exodus 23:9, when he said, “Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.”4 David French summarizes the political left’s use of Scripture to find support for its open borders policy:

Writing in the Guardian, Giles Frazier declared that there is “no respectable Christian argument for fortress Europe, surrounded by a new iron curtain of razor wire to keep poor, dark-skinned people out.” His theological argument is that both the Passover and the Eucharist are a call to “re-live basic human solidarity” with the refugee “in the face of existential fear and uncertainty.” Indeed, Jesus’s flight to Egypt was “deliberately sampling” the “basic foundational myth of Exodus.” Mark Woods, a Baptist minister, referred to the “stark and terrifying parable of the sheep and the goats,” where Jesus decrees, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” because “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me.” Think Progress used this same scripture to condemn Christian governors who oppose allowing Syrian refugees into their states. President Obama himself used biblical imagery to taunt opponents of his refugee resettlement program as “scared of widows and orphans.” As a general matter, advocates of open borders often refer to [the] Mosaic law requiring the Israelites to treat the “foreigner residing with you” as if foreigners were “native-born,” and to “Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” The laws of Israel, they point out, applied equally to the “foreigner” and the “native-born.”5

Of course, anyone can quote the Bible out of context for their own purposes, as even the devil does that (Luke 4:9-11; Ps 91:11-12). A biblical text without a context is nothing more than a pretext that can be conveniently utilized to proof-text any preconceived notion that an already biased person seeks to substantiate. However, the key question that needs to be asked is, “is it really un-Christ-like, unbiblical, and immoral to call for tougher and more consistent enforcement of our existing immigration laws?”

 

In actuality, it is entirely biblical to oppose illegal immigration, amnesty, and a porous borders policy. Three reasons cause me to reach this conclusion. First, as noted in our last post, the Bible teaches that believers should obey the laws of the land (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17; Titus 3:1). Illegal immigrants by definition are violating the American immigration laws. Why should we support any illegal activity when the Scriptures are very clear that we should obey the government whenever possible?

 

God Created Borders

Second, as we explained in our prior post, God Himself has established national entities and their existing borders (Gen. 10:32; 11:1-9; Deut. 32:8; Acts 17:26). Illegal immigration, amnesty, and unvetted passage through international boundaries represent a rebellion against this basic principle by pretending that these borders do not exist.

The Tower of Babel

In our prior post, we explained the origin of nations and borders at the Tower of Babel. Genesis 11:1-9 depicts the famous Tower of Babel story. This event represents man’s first attempt at world government. God’s opinion is clearly expressed on the whole subject of world government in Genesis 11:7-9 when God scattered Babel’s builders. God performed a miracle that confounded the language of the builders. Thus, the builders could no longer cooperate with each other. Consequently, this whole building project was stopped dead in its tracks. From this divine intervention originated the various nations, cultures, and ethnicities of the earth. All of the various ethnic entities of the earth all owe their origin to this divine scattering that took place at the Tower of Babel.

 

Given humanity’s sin nature, God wants power decentralized, and that explains why He confounded the languages at Babel. The existence of multiple nations provides a natural check and balance system which is necessary given man’s sin nature. Such national decentralization helps preserve the social order in our fallen world. Evil cannot get control of all political power and its progress is hindered with the existence of a plethora of national boundaries.

 

Border Enforcement Responsibilities of Any Authentic Nation

Three things are necessary in order to have a bonafide nation: a common language, a common culture, and authentic borders. A denial of any of these minimum criteria is to deny the existence of a bonafide nation. Consequently, the United States, just like any other country in the world, has both the right and responsibility to determine for itself its own immigration policy consistent with its own best interest and those of its own citizenry. As Bryan Fischer well notes, “No one has a constitutional or moral right to immigrate to the United States. The Constitution gives Congress unilateral authority to decide under what conditions those from foreign lands are admitted into our country.”6

 

In fact, according to Bill Wilson, the United States is actually required by law to prohibit all Islamic immigration. He observes:

The Immigration and Nationality Act passed June 27, 1952 revised the laws relating to immigration, naturalization, and nationality for the United States. That act, which became Public Law 414, established both the law and the intent of Congress regarding the immigration of Aliens to the US and remains in effect today. Among the many issues it covers, one in particular, found in Chapter 2 Section 212, is the prohibition of entry to the US if the Alien belongs to an organization seeking to overthrow the government of the United States by “force, violence, or other unconstitutional means.” This, by its very definition, rules out Islamic immigration to the United States, but this law is being ignored by the White House. The law prohibits entry of “Aliens who the consular officer or the Attorney General knows or has reason to believe seek to enter the United States solely, principally, or incidentally to engage in activities which would be prejudicial to the public interest, or endanger the welfare, safety, or security of the United States.” It also prohibits the entry of Aliens who are members of or affiliated with any organization that advocates or teaches, the overthrow by force, violence, or other unconstitutional means of the US or of all forms of law, and Aliens who publish, circulate and distribute materials teaching or advocating the overthrow by force, violence or other unconstitutional means of the US Government or of all forms of law. Islamic immigration to the US would be prohibited under this law because the Koran, Sharia Law and the Hadith all require complete submission to Islam, which is antithetical to the US government, the Constitution, and to the Republic. All Muslims who attest that the Koran is their life’s guiding principal subscribe to submission to Islam and its form of government. Now the politically correct crowd would say that Islamists cannot be prohibited from entering the US because Islam is a religion. Whether it is a religion is immaterial because the law states that Aliens who are affiliated with any “organization” that advocates the overthrow of our government are prohibited. It also prohibits those who distribute literature that advocates the overthrow of our country, which would include the Koran. In fact, there are many verses in the Koran that command Islamists to kill those who do not submit to Allah and the prophet. If Congress so desired to hold the White House accountable to the current immigration of refugees (which also must comply with the law), it has the Immigration and Nationality Act to cite. The Administration is breaking that law.7

While in Turkey, Obama recently criticized prohibiting Islamic immigration into America as inconsistent with American values.

When I hear folks say that, well, “Maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims” — when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted. . . that’s shameful.8

Yet, as a law professor and constitutional scholar, Obama should be well aware that our Constitution’s prohibition against a religious test for holding national office is a prohibition totally inapplicable to determining which religious groups should be allowed into the country. Historian David Barton appropriately corrects the legal and constitutional record:

The President’s allusion to a “religious test” is a reference to Article VI of the Constitution, which says:. . . no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. President Obama, once again, has completely rewritten the simple wording of the Constitution to make it say something it does not. As is evident from the clear wording above, the “religious test” clause applies only to federally elected and appointed officials, and that’s all. It does not apply to immigrants or anyone who does not hold federal office. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (considered one of the two “Fathers of American Jurisprudence”) affirmed this in his famous 1833 Commentary on the Constitution: This clause. . . is designed to cut off every pretense of an alliance between the Church and State in the administration of the National Government (emphasis added). This clause specifically ensured that there would be no requirement that all federal officials must belong to just one specific denomination, which had been the case across much of Europe at the time the Constitution was written. Signer of the Constitution Richard Dobbs Spaight likewise affirmed: “As to the subject of religion. . . . [n]o power is given to the general [federal] government to interfere with it at all. . . . No sect [denomination] is preferred to another. Every man has a right to worship the Supreme Being in the manner he thinks proper. No test is required. All men of equal capacity and integrity are equally eligible to offices.” The religious test clause of the U.S. Constitution applies only to those holding a federal office. Whether or not Syrian Muslim refugees should be accepted into America is still to be determined, but contrary to what President Obama claims, Article VI of the Constitution has absolutely nothing to do with the debate.9

Thus, tightening border enforcement, by prohibiting those holding to violent political ideologies and religious dogmas from entering the country, is not only in harmony with the American legal and constitutional system, but it is actually the bare minimum expected of any sovereign and independent nation. Illegal immigration, amnesty, and an unvetted porous borders policy reject the borders principle and consequently violate the minimum requirement for the existence of a nation. The bottom line is that God has established the individual nation-state and an open borders mentality rebels against God’s standard, which is pro nation-state.

 

Although legal immigration is part of the rich American tradition, amnesty and a lax immigration policy, on the other hand, grants citizenship to those who have never sworn allegiance to our American Constitution. They have never vowed to protect and defend America against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Because of the avoidance of mandatory national training required of all legal immigrants, such illegal immigrants often know very little of America’s unique and exceptional heritage and culture. This type of policy creates a Balkanized America containing parallel societies or rival nations within our own nation. Without a common culture and language, a nation cannot thrive and even exist for long.

Image Source: Commons Wikimedia, by Jonathan McIntosh

Image Source: Commons Wikimedia, by Jonathan McIntosh

Beyond this, an open borders policy is dangerous and consequently perverts well beyond recognition any rational and biblical definition of compassion. David French well explains:

Those who claim that America’s choice is between accepting refugees and heartlessly doing nothing are simply wrong — and disingenuous. Americans have welcomed, clothed, and fed refugees by the hundreds of thousands in camps and cities overseas. In the past we have established and protected vast safe havens that allowed persecuted people to live and thrive (e.g., Iraqi Kurdistan after the Gulf War). America is the most generous, most compassionate nation on earth, expending vast amounts of treasure and spilling its precious blood to protect millions of poor and oppressed…While the American people are undoubtedly imperfect, we have lived our Judeo-Christian values by establishing and defending the most generous, compassionate nation on the face of the earth. We continue to live those principles by helping feed, house, and defend countless refugees from conflict zones abroad. And we would not violate those principles by closing our borders to a specific group of people who we know will mask and facilitate deadly attacks against our friends, neighbors, and families. America can and should be both compassionate and wise. God expects no less.10

Although as we have explained that the creation of borders is God’s design in the post-fall, post-flood world, are there any biblical examples of divinely authorized borders enforcement? Such examples will be the subject of our next post.

 

(To Be Continued…)

 

 Endnotes


  1. http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/15/europe/paris-attacks-passports/ []
  2. http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/11/18/report-8-syrians-caught-at-texas-border-in-laredo/ []
  3. http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/11/15/isis-claims-responsibility-blessed-onslaught-paris/ []
  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6Q_Xk66gsRU []
  5. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/427278/syrian-refugees-bible-argument-against []
  6. http://www.afa.net/the-stand/immigration/2015/11/is-it-time-to-suspend-islamic-immigration/ []
  7. http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Islam–by-law–is-prohibited-from-US-immigration.html?soid=1102218983435&aid=fDjt6jwCwf0. To read the law, go to this link and scroll down to Chapter 2, Section 212:  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-66/pdf/STATUTE-66-Pg163.pdf []
  8. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/11/16/press-conference-president-obama-antalya-turkey []
  9. http://www.afa.net/the-stand/government/2015/11/article-vi-of-the-constitution/ []
  10. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/427278/syrian-refugees-bible-argument-against []

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