President Biden issues “Proclamation on Securing the Border”

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President Biden issues “Proclamation on Securing the Border”

What the Bible says about illegal immigration

June 7, 2024 -

Migrants seeking asylum rest as they wait to be processed after crossing the border Wednesday, June 5, 2024, in San Diego, Calif. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

Migrants seeking asylum rest as they wait to be processed after crossing the border Wednesday, June 5, 2024, in San Diego, Calif. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

Migrants seeking asylum rest as they wait to be processed after crossing the border Wednesday, June 5, 2024, in San Diego, Calif. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden issued an executive order aimed at reducing the influx of illegal immigrants and getting the southern border under some semblance of control. It mirrors elements of former President Trump’s approach to the border while also including several of the same stipulations from the legislation that failed to pass the House of Representatives back in February.

The contents of the White House’s official proclamation were fairly partisan in nature and of questionable veracity at several points, but that’s become par for the course on both sides of the political aisle in recent years. As such, what the executive order actually does is of far greater importance than how it was described:

  • The new policy closes the border between legal ports of entry to non-citizens and allows Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to send migrants back before they can make an asylum claim when the average number of encounters at the southern border exceeds 2,500 in a single day.
  • This approach should close the “loophole in the asylum system” many have exploited as the vast majority of encounters occur between legal ports of entry. There, migrants enter the country and wait for border security to arrest them before claiming asylum. Once they do, most are given a court date—one typically several years in the future—and released. Under the new system, they would be sent back without receiving that opportunity.
  • The border would not reopen, allowing migrants to claim asylum once again, until two weeks after the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that the seven-day average of encounters at the border is under 1,500.
  • Recent numbers have been sufficiently high, ensuring the proclamation went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday. Given that the seven-day average has not fallen below 1,500 encounters since President Biden took office, much of the border is effectively closed for the foreseeable future.
  • However, migrants who use the CBP One app to book an appointment with officials can still apply for asylum. Unaccompanied minors are excluded from the mandatory expulsion requirement as well.
  • Other modes of entry—such as the parole system—are still active.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)—who sued President Trump’s White House and won when he issued a similar order—plans to do the same in the coming weeks, arguing that “A ban on asylum is illegal just as it was when Trump unsuccessfully tried it.”
  • While the White House argues that the humanitarian exemptions and theoretically temporary nature of the asylum restrictions make it legal, that will ultimately be for the courts to decide, and it is unclear how that will end.

As debate continues surrounding how effective the executive order will be, it seems like the only thing most people agree on is that the situation at the border is untenable and something must be done. However, what that something is tends to vary by how you vote, where you live, and a host of other factors.

Fortunately, God doesn’t call us to let politicians or public opinion dictate right from wrong on this or any other issue. So how should Christians respond?

As we ponder that question, two factors are important to keep in mind.

One: God’s call to care

First, God’s word clearly prescribes an approach to the foreigner and stranger that places the initiative with us and demands we treat them with a level of respect—as well as a recognition of their basic humanity—that is lacking at times in today’s culture (Leviticus 19:34).

Abraham, for example, was one of the most powerful warlords and people in his region. Few could match his influence and authority, yet he is praised for the hospitality he showed toward the strangers who passed by his tent near the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18). While those strangers ended up being angels of the Lord, he did not know that when he first rushed out to meet them. His concern was on blessing those he had the opportunity to help.

As Christians, we should share a similar concern for the opportunities created at the border and in communities closer to home.

At the same time, applying his example to today is not as straightforward as simply opening our borders and welcoming any who choose to come inside.

Two: Temporary guests or permanent residents?

Second, there is a key distinction between Abraham’s situation and the southern border today.

The strangers Abraham welcomed were not trying to stay or break any laws to get there. Rather, they were travelers whom he cared for before sending them on their way. That is a very different description from those who attempt to cross the border illegally in order to establish at least a semi-permanent residence in the country.

While Abraham’s actions can and should guide our approach to being hospitable toward others, that hospitality must be viewed within its larger context before we apply it to the question of immigration today.

The statement that we are a nation of laws is not wrong, even if it does get thrown around a bit too carelessly at times. Scripture is clear that we are to heed those laws so long as they do not cause us to sin (Romans 13:1–2; 1 Peter 2:13–14; Titus 3:1), and the general enforcement of immigration laws is not a sin so long as the way in which they are enforced does not cross that line.

So with those factors in mind, how should Christians approach the crisis at the border and the subject of illegal immigration?

Practicing biblical righteousness

Ultimately, the Bible does not call us to have open borders, but it does require us to maintain them humanely and in a way that recognizes the general dignity of people created in God’s image.

Between those two poles, however, there is much room for debate. We just need to be sure that, in the midst of that debate, we never forget that God loves and cherishes every one of the people involved and calls us to do the same. Both are key elements of what it means to practice biblical righteousness.

And while God does not expect us to be righteous in everything as soon as we are saved, he does expect us to seek after that righteousness with resolve and passion (Matthew 5:6).

As Christians, it is essential that every facet of our lives reflects God’s love and truth. And the more contentious the issue, the more important it is for us to ensure we speak and act in a way that points people back to God.

So take a moment to reflect on how you’ve discussed or thought about the topic of illegal immigration in the past. Where would righteousness rank on the list of descriptions?

Scripture is clear on what the answer should be.

What is yours?

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Quote of the day

“The highest reward for a faithful life is not what you get for it but what you become by it.” —Warren Wiersbe

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