Many conservative and liberal Christians in America look upon immigrants very negatively. Despite the irrefutable evidence that immigrants – even illegal immigrants – do not “steal” American jobs, do not sap entitlements, and are a clear boon to the economy, we routinely hear how immigrants are categorically “bad.”

I am here to tell you that such an attitude is wrong on every level. Besides the economic and ethical arguments for why we should embrace open borders and oppose the state claiming more and more power to usurp freedom of movement, even God is on the side of the “alien”. We can see this throughout Scripture.

God says you should treat immigrants the same as you treat natives.

Exodus 22:21–24

21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. 22 “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.

Exodus 23:9

9 “Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.

Leviticus 19:33–34

33 “ ‘When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. 34 The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 10:14–22

14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your forefathers who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.

Deuteronomy 24:16–18

16 Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin. 17 Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. 18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.

2 Chronicles 6:32–33

32 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays toward this temple, 33 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.

Isaiah 56:1–8

1 This is what the Lord says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” 3 Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.” And let not any eunuch complain, “I am only a dry tree.” 4 For this is what the Lord says: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant— 5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off. 6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” 8 The Sovereign Lord declares— he who gathers the exiles of Israel: “I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.”

Jeremiah 7:6–7

6 if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.

Zechariah 7:9–10

9 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’

God requires that the same law be used for natives and immigrants.

Exodus 12:49

49 The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you.”

Leviticus 24:22

22 You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the Lord your God.’ ”

God will pass judgment against those who abuse immigrants.

Deuteronomy 27:19

19 “Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”

Psalm 94:1–13, 20-23

1 O Lord, the God who avenges, O God who avenges, shine forth. 2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve. 3 How long will the wicked, O Lord, how long will the wicked be jubilant? 4 They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting. 5 They crush your people, O Lord; they oppress your inheritance. 6 They slay the widow and the alien; they murder the fatherless. 7 They say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob pays no heed.” 8 Take heed, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? 9 Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? 10 Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge? 11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile. 12 Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law; 13 you grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked…

20 Can a corrupt throne be allied with you— one that brings on misery by its decrees? 21 They band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. 22 But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. 23 He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the Lord our God will destroy them.

Jeremiah 22:3–5

3 This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’ ”

Ezekiel 22:7

7 In you they have treated father and mother with contempt; in you they have oppressed the alien and mistreated the fatherless and the widow.

Ezekiel 22:29–31

29 The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice. 30 “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

Malachi 3:5

5 “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

Admonitions to be charitable with immigrants:

Deuteronomy 24:19–22

19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.

Deuteronomy 26:8–14

8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O Lord, have given me.” Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before him. 11 And you and the Levites and the aliens among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household. 12 When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. 13 Then say to the Lord your God: “I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them. 14 I have not eaten any of the sacred portion while I was in mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor have I offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the Lord my God; I have done everything you commanded me.

Job 31:32

32 but no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler—

We should treat immigrants as we would treat Christ.

Matthew 25:34–46

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For 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, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

(Scripture quotations taken from the NIV. Many thanks to Dick Clark for his assistance compiling these passages.)

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Dr. Norman Horn

Norman founded and the Libertarian Christian Institute, and currently serves as its President and Editor-in-Chief. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from the Austin Graduate School of Theology. He currently is a Postdoctoral researcher in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Joel Solliday

    Paul preached that it is God who “…made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.” (Acts 17:26)

    “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” (Romans 13:1)

    “By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just; by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth.” (Proverbs 8:15-16)

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  • Gary Cass

    I would encourage you to go back to the Hebrew and see the distinctions that exist between immigrants that are trying to become part of Israel and those who are just passing through. There different words for the different kinds of immigrants and there are important distinctions and I did not see in your list. What about immigrants who come to destroy your religion, your way of life, your values, and dispose you of your your property?

  • Interesting thought on the first part, but I rather doubt that it makes a substantive difference in the general interpretation of the principles.

    Regarding the second… you deal with those who have committed aggression who are immigrants in the same way you deal with those who have committed aggression who are natives. I see no conflict here, unless someone is trying to find an excuse to label an entire group of people as evil and out to destroy you. To do the latter is entirely without justification and collectivist.

  • Justin Graber

    It is so insanely frustrating, as someone generally politically conservative, for discussions on this issue to use legal and illegal immigrants interchangeably.

    I’d go so far to say as I am greatly offended by the opening line of this piece. It is patently false.

    Anyone concerned with ILLEGAL immigration is NOT the same as someone bigoted towards immigrants in general. I’m of the former, and yet my best friend is an immigrant from Brazil. I hold immigrants in general in high regard. Their experiences outside our borders tend make them much more productive citizens than all too many of us that are home grown slackerds.

    I’ve been highly politically active in the last decade, and have met and talked with many, many individuals passionate about the illegal immigration problem from all sides of the issue. ‘Conservatives’ aren’t bigoted against immigrants based on race or otherwise, they’re concerned with the rule of law regarding ILLEGAL immigration.

    Dealing with the illegal immigration problem serves to prevent mistreatment of those individuals not further their mistreatment. Not having legal status opens one to all sorts of abuses.

  • The opening line states:
    “Many conservative and liberal Christians in America look upon immigrants very negatively.”

    I don’t see how you can really, truly be “offended” by this statement. It’s actually a rather mild way of putting it. I’ve had *plenty* of experiences with Christians in America, conservative and liberal that displayed patently ludicrous attitudes toward immigrants of any type — legal, illegal, Hispanic, Asian — you name it. Arguments like the ones I listed above are fallacious and need to be shot down. Moreover, such attitudes are blatantly not Christian and they should repent of them.

    Additionally, many people bash so-called “illegal” immigrants as a foil for their disdain for immigrants in general. Obviously, this is not YOU. That’s great! It’s fine to have a discussion about illegal immigration — I’ve cited plenty of things above that can start that.

  • Art Sisneros

    Mr. Horn
    I agree with the premise of this article or rather collection of scriptures. It speaks well to how we ought to treat immigrants.

    I am curious about another aspect of this issue. It is one thing to treat an alien in a Biblical way. It is another to allow them to become citizens. It appears as if the Bible’s use of the term “foreigner/alien” is more linked to a foreign god or religion rather than a race or nationality.

  • “I am curious about another aspect of this issue. It is one thing to
    treat an alien in a Biblical way. It is another to allow them to become

    Please understand that this specific article is not intended to suggest anything with regard to citizenship.

  • Good work, Norman. I look forward to the day when we are no longer bound by national boundaries and rules, but are able to live freely anywhere we wish. I addressed this issue on my own blog last year. If you care to see my conclusions, follow these links.

  • Bill Kelsey

    Add to your list Heb 13:2

    Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

  • LB

    There are lots of false assumptions in this post, the most important being equating the desire to enforce laws with a hatred of the people who are disobeying them. I am in favor of immigration, but I believe that immigrants should enter our country legally (which means that the system should be streamlined). Having truly open borders is not wise, because terrorists are not imaginary. Also, it is simply not true that illegal immigrants do not receive government aid. Although some federal laws say they should not, most programs are implemented by the states (often using federal grants), and the states give away tax money quite generously. Here is one small example.

  • LB

    If you meet a lot of racists, Norman, you are hanging around with the wrong crowd. Most of the people I know simultaneously give generously to immigrants through food pantries and other assistance, but vote for stricter enforcement of existing laws. I agree with the poster that the article tries to paint everyone opposed to illegal immigration as a racist. Straw man arguments make you look weak. You can do better.

  • LB

    After they have bombed the Boston Marathon and killed many citizens, it is a bit late to deal with them. It makes sense to vet the folks you admit into your country.

  • You, like the other gentleman and certain other detractors, are missing the point. Furthermore, I never claimed these people were “racists”. Xenophobic would be a better word, but that would still be pretty extreme. Besides, I doubt the people to which I refer are even particularly bad people. They are just making a mistake of judgment based upon lies they have been told both about immigrants in general AND about illegal immigrants.

    The fact that you take offense at something relatively mild might suggest you have deeper feelings about immigrants than you care to admit. Perhaps you can do better too.

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  • Micah

    It would only make sense to vet them if they were second class citizens, or something sub-human, something almost human but a tinge more evil. People treat immigrants like that.

    But this is not the case. Immigrants are humans, just like the rest of us, and there is not one who does good, not even one person among the best or worst of us who does good, at least that’s how Paul put it.

    The way I understand God’s word, it seems to indicate that sin has tainted every aspect of what it means to be human, and immigrants don’t have more of this taint than natives. It’s probably just as likely for someone from your own country to bomb a marathon as an immigrant is.

    Moreover, even if it were possible to put controls of that nature on the border, why should the state be the ones to enforce it? It’s very statist to immediately think of the state as the first and last solution/resort to just about any problem, and immigration is not free of the statist issue.

    P.S. North Korea has impeccable border control. Good thing no one can get in to that country because they’ve got to have only those loyal to the Party :) you know, the good ones. Can’t let any scuzzballs in!

  • Micah

    Joel — I’m confused God determined our boundaries and habitation, so we should subject ourselves to man-made borders? When I was a kid we used to draw boundaries in the sand where our forts would go. Boundaries of nations have changed a multiplicity of times throughout history.

    To be subject to an authority means to show external respect for their position so you don’t bring shame on yourself or the Church. It doesn’t mean to do everything, or even seriously consider and follow everything they say.

    Also, in America who are the authorities? The PEOPLE ARE the government!

  • Micah

    I think they should enter our country legally, too. Guess what? The more we open our borders, the more legal they will be! Awesome, right? :)

  • What you say might make sense to you but consider this….most illegal immigrants exist here because of a lawlessness lifelifestyle. They have fake identities, fake SS numbers and anything else that is fake that they need to travel and work.
    So how does that lawless lifestyle fit into your picture? I guess they are pardoned from breaking the law.
    No matter what case you make for them they are behaving badly by taking advantage of people. They are breaking Gods law by their dishonesty, and breaking mans law that are here for our protection from those that want to abuse and harm us.
    As Christians they are told to be honest, not steal, not to behave unrighteously, but they do.
    Illegals will have to answer to God for their lawless lifestyle and I’m not too worried about it, as well we all will.
    They can fool us but they can’t fool God. 1 Corin 6:9,10

    Jim Rizoli
    jjrizo on youtube

  • So bad laws should be followed no matter how bad they are?

  • RizoliTV

    Norman, you really missed thr point here and do a diserrvice to the Bible.
    I would suggest you educate youself and read the book “The Immigration Crisis, Immigrants, Aliens and the Bible, by James Hoffmeier, that will fix what you broke.
    Hoffmeier shows the Hebrew words that you are distorting.

  • RizoliTV

    Here is the right view of the Bibles view of immigration.

    It should be remembered that the Bible is very specific about bearing false testimony.
    Mr Horn seems to have done that by misleading the Biblical audience the wrong viewpoint on the Bibles stance.
    Hopefully after he watches this video presentation he’s humble enough to change his view.. if not then he has to answer to God himself.

  • I just love how you so subtly suggest that not only am I “wrong” but I am in the “more serious of wrongs” of wantonly “bearing false testimony”. In other words, you might as well be saying “go to hell”.

    Then, rather than actually put forward an argument, you throw out a video and expect me to capitulate.

    Yeeeeeah, I don’t think that’s going to work here. You’re doing a disservice to Christianity by being so condescending and silly.

  • Benyomin

    Your references to foreigners or or sojourners (gerim) were references to those who were already in the land and had already been vetted.

    Scripture also advocated the utter annihilation of those who’d preceded Israel before they came into the land.

    Letting immigrants into the land neglects the demand that those who made the “immigrants” want to flee their place of origin be held accountable for their policies towards those under their purview. In the end, the Mullahs or Corrupt politicians of the place of origin win.

    This, I believe, is a more balanced perspective.

  • Benyomin

    That’s a reference to an individual practicing hospitality in his own home. Not to the individual imposing his guests upon the rest of the neighborhood.

  • Benyomin

    You’re opening sentence is a conflation of immigrants and illegal immigrants. We are a nation of immigrants. My grandparents were immigrants and might I add, their attitudes and conduct demonstrated gratitude and the knowledge that hard work would enable them to prosper.

    Those benefits ought to be available to any immigrant who arrives in the United States LEGALLY. I, and I’m sure, Mr. Graber are entirely in favor of immigrants.

    BTW One of the characteristics of the Gerim in Israel was that they were required to observe Yom HaKippurim… the day of Atonement, in order to stay in the land. The land was intended to be pure… devoid of any sin or impurity whatsoever, and for that reason all people were required to observe that day. Otherwise, they were to be ushered outside the borders. The people in the land were to consist of a plurality of like minded people. The word “religion” had not really been invented yet but clearly every one was to be a worshipper of the God of Israel.

    The United States is not Israel. It is a secular nation. And people are free to worship any God that they wish or not worship any god for that matter. Hence, I think the Biblical mandates upon a people governed by the Law of Moses does not apply to the United States which is/was governed by a secular Constitution guided by Mosaic principles.

    I find it interesting that the same argument is being used for what I prefer to call “multicultural multi-world-view-ism” as is used to favor taxes that go toward (allegedly) food stamps and social programs. (and dare I say that the Apostle Paul said “Let he who does not work not eat”) The argument is made: “The Right Wing Christians lack compassion. They don’t want to help the illegal immigrants and they don’t want to help the poor” Well, I dare say that some of the most generous people in the world are those “cold, callous right wing Christians”. I don’t know the stats but I’d be willing to bet that they give more, per capita, to aid those fleeing ISIS and more per capita for aiding the poor than anyone who would want to make the Government carry out those “acts of kindness” for them.

  • Benyomin

    Hmmmm, I see that your post was written over a year before the events of Paris 11/13/15. I’m interested in knowing if your position has changed any.

  • freethinker1

    exactly… typical theist, cherry picking what he wants the book to say in order to hate with a clean conscience…. so have him tell us… “who would jesus deport”?

  • freethinker1

    to all you “good moral” folks of the religious right… tell me … who would jesus deport?

  • Cynthia Arthur

    Weren’t the Israelis suppose to allow aliens to come into their country “only” if they would obey the same laws that God gave to them?