Opinion

What would Jesus do? Help the Dreamers and secure the border

Demonstrators rally in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program outside the Capitol on Jan. 21, 2018, in Washington. Democrats have been seeking a deal to protect the "Dreamers," who have been shielded against deportation by DACA, which President Trump halted last year. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana; cutline amended by RNS)

DALLAS (RNS) — Like nearly every pastor in America, I want to see a solution for children threatened with deportation should Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program be allowed to expire.

I believe it is unbiblical to tear apart families and to punish people who are in our country illegally through no fault of their own. In most cases, they speak our language, have been educated in our schools, learned our history, and pledge allegiance to our flag. Protection of families and grace for strangers are Christian virtues.

However, this is only part of the moral imperative of this hour.

Solving DACA without strengthening borders ignores the teachings of the Bible. In fact, Christians who support open borders, or blanket amnesty, are cherry-picking Scriptures to suit their own agendas. And since Jesus fully affirmed every word of Scripture, we can assume that asking “What would Jesus do about immigration?” is the same as asking “What does the Bible really teach about immigration?” As evangelicals, we don’t consult pundits, pollsters or prognosticators. We consult the Bible.

While the New Testament — which is the “testament” or agreement we live under — doesn’t directly address DACA, there are three overarching principles about immigration in the New Testament that all evangelicals should unequivocally affirm. All three principles operating together are vital to honoring God in the midst of moral decay, insecurity and pressing human need.

First, God himself established the very idea of nations and borders. Acts 17:26 declares, “From one man he (God) made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” Whatever else this verse means, it’s clear that God is not an advocate of open borders, as Pope Francis and other religious leaders assume. Borders are necessary to protect a country’s identity and security. Although God’s children will one day live together without borders in the new world, that is not his plan for this present world.

Families separated by the two countries chat along the U.S.-Mexico border fence at Border Field State Park, Calif., on Nov. 19, 2016. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

Second, God created government, vesting it with the right and responsibility to protect its citizens. The Apostle Paul referred to government as God’s servant: “The authorities that exist have been established by God. … For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:1, 4)

The government of the United States, like the government of every other country, has both the right and the responsibility to restrict immigration, whether for the protection of its citizens or whatever reason it deems necessary.

Many people — including a large segment of evangelicals — fail to grasp the God-given distinction between the church and government. God created both institutions but with distinct purposes: The church is to represent Christ to the world while the government is to maintain order in the world. As the “Body of Christ,” the church is to be welcoming of all people regardless of their race, economic situation or immigration status.

But America is not a church and President Trump is not America’s pastor. As individual Christians, we have a biblical responsibility to place the needs of others above our own. But as commander in chief, President Trump and the Congress have the constitutional responsibility to place the interests of our nation above the needs of other countries.

A border fence separates densely populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the United States in the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Third, Jesus commanded us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) And in the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus made it clear that our “neighbor” was anyone we came in contact with who had a need — not just legalized citizens. Although the Bible never commands government to “forgive” or “turn the other cheek” as it does individuals, the values of mercy and grace in governmental policy cannot be completely ignored.

As I write this, citizens of Indianapolis and football fans around the nation are mourning the loss of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson, who was hit and killed by a suspected drunken driver Feb. 4. The driver, Manuel Orrego-Savala, had been deported from our country twice before. The way to have demonstrated love for Jackson and his family would have been to have a strong border that kept Orrego-Savala out of our country and off our streets. That’s why President Trump is correct in saying that as we have compassion for Dreamers, we should also have compassion for those whose lives have been ruined by the negative consequences of illegal immigration.

We should pray for wisdom for President Trump and the Congress as they formulate laws that will balance compassion for others with the security of our country and its citizens. I thank God we have a president who understands that necessary balance and has the courage to protect the well-being of our nation.

(The Rev. Robert Jeffress is the senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas. Pathway to Victory, his broadcast ministry, airs daily nationwide on more than 900 radio stations and is broadcast to 195 countries. He is an evangelical adviser to President Trump. The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

About the author

Robert Jeffress

36 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • “First, God himself established the very idea of nations and borders. Acts 17:26 declares, “From one man he (God) made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” Whatever else this verse means, it’s clear that God is not an advocate of open borders.”

    “Whatever else this verse might mean”, why make that statement? The next verse says what the verse means.

    “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”

    That’s what the verse means. Whatever else Robert Jeffress says it means is whatever Robert Jeffress wants to believe it means. “God did this so that” pretty much narrows the interpretation of the verse. I ain’t no bible scholar or anything but just saying.

  • Jeffress quotes Romans 13:1,4 to build “Jesus’s” immigration policy. Here what Jesus would say to Robert and Donald a few verses later in the same chapter concerning other “moral imperatives of this hour.”

    “11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

  • The author is a lying sack of turds, as befitting someone who is a “religious advisor” to our president. Given his past bigotries against various other groups, adding “Nativist” to the list is not much of a stretch.

    “Open borders” and “blanket amnesty” which he describes opposition views are a fiction concocted to avoid reasonable discussion of the subject. They are not actual positions. The idea that betraying people who came out into the open to serve our country as a moral or ethical act just shows what kind of nonsense passes for values from his crowd. How does this advance national security? It doesn’t, not even close.

    The border is a completely separate issue from what to do with illegal aliens. People who have already gotten past said border. The idea that we can’t or shouldn’t address how to deal with immigration, legal or otherwise until the border is “sufficiently secure” is absolutely ridiculous. Because it will be impossible to make such borders impervious to illegal immigration, there will never be a point when it is considered “secure” enough. It is simply an excuse to avoid addressing the issue rationally.

    The wall is a fantasy which will just waste resources that could be used for more ethically and morally useful things like the infrastructure of our nation, sane taxation, ensuring the health and welfare of our citizens.

  • Here’s what Jeffress says about how to get around that whole love your neighbor thing Jesus talks about.

    “Third, Jesus commanded us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) And in the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus made it clear that our “neighbor” was anyone we came in contact with who had a need — not just legalized citizens. Although the Bible never commands government to “forgive” or “turn the other cheek” as it does individuals, the values of mercy and grace in governmental policy cannot be completely ignored.”

    Here’s what Jesus had to say about the politically religious of his day a just a few thoughts after the Mark 12:31 quote Jeffress uses.

    Mark 12:38-40
    38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

    Robert Jeffress are you really a man of God? If these were just your opinions that would be one thing, but you’re saying God says, when he’s not, just to give yourself and others His authority.

  • “First, God himself established the very idea of nations and borders. Acts 17:26 declares,….”

    You know you’re following White Jesus when you repeat “biblical” segregationist arguments from the 1960s and are proud of it. Compare to Bob Jones, the bigot who founded Bob Jones University for white’s only:

    “What does God teach about the races of the world? If you will go to the seventeenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles,….” https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/…/is-segregation…/

  • I must admit when I first read the title I was skeptical but he does a good job of making his point. He makes a point that does sound congruent with the Biblical passages in its fuller context.

    My chaplain explains to our airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines (joint environment) that the government exists to provide for security and to restrain evil in the world. I think many people confuse the role of religion and government. One thing I remember Jesus said is render unto Ceaser what is his and to God’s what is his.

    Securiing the border only makes sense. Any system at all, including living systems at any level such as a cell, an organ, an organism, or even a nation has a limited capacity and a boundary. There are limited resources and a defined identity and purpose. Our open borders have been slowly destroying America creating division and increasing costs of social support. The United States does not have the resources, capability nor responsibility to provide a particular standard of living to the world.

    I am fine with compassion for dreamers. But the border must be secured and reasonable and safe (no more chain or lottery immigration without very strict vetting, much stricter than we now have) immigration policies put in place.

  • Obviously, the only reasonable approach, would be for the U.S. to invade the southern part of this continent and annex it.

  • First: Who are the Dreamers?

    Who are the Dreamers?

    “DACA recipients are often referred to as Dreamers, after a similar piece of legislation called the Dream Act, which was introduced in 2001 and would have given its beneficiaries a path to American citizenship. They now fall between the ages of 16 and 35; the vast majority came from Mexico, though many others were born in Central and South America, Asia and the Caribbean. The status has been issued to roughly 800,000 people.

    Recipients must be enrolled in high school or already have a diploma or G.E.D. in order to qualify. Anyone with a serious criminal history (defined as a felony or serious misdemeanor conviction, or three misdemeanor convictions) is not eligible.”

  • GOD set up nations and set borders! The One world church, and one world government is the DEVIL’S idea and worse than HITLER could even imagine.

  • The major problem?

    “Manufacturing workers in Mexico earn an average wage of about $13 a day, according to CNNMoney’s analysis of Mexican government statistics. The typical assembly line worker in the U.S. makes $25 per HOUR, Labor Department data shows.”

  • Why Dreamers don’t want to return to their home countries, an example:

    “Manufacturing workers in Mexico earn an average wage of about $13 a day, according to CNNMoney’s analysis of Mexican government statistics. The typical assembly line worker in the U.S. makes $25 per HOUR, Labor Department data shows. “

  • Amen Spuddie. This “preacher” is a perfect example of a “Christian Nationalist” or one who is primarily a political hack and is Christian in name only.

  • Sounds like this “Chaplin” has no business in the pulpit. He is clearly pushing a “Christian Nationalist” agenda which has nothing to do with the teachings of The Christ.

  • So God created nations and borders? Then why historically did they get changed so often? And God created governments? So why have the overwhelming majority of them historically been so awful? Jeffress’s God seems to be rather strange.

  • I am still trying to figure out what is the great national security risk he thinks is posed by the DREAMers. People who came out of hiding specifically to cooperate with the government and pledged to stay out of trouble.

    The whole, “we must secure the borders first” argument is like arguing that we can’t address the problems of drug addiction or drug crimes unless all illegal drugs are stopped at our borders. Its just an excuse not to address the situation and throw more money into efforts which are not really helping.

    Rule of thumb when someone talks about opponents being for “Open borders” and “Amnesty” they do not take the subject seriously. The only thing missing from the usual white nationalist attack on immigration was a reference to “Chain migration” or “Anchor babies”.

  • Only if you want to waste time, resources and lives.

    The only reasonable approach is a manual labor visa. A revival of the “Bracero” program. If people were allowed to cross the border and work and then go back, then you have documentation, vetting and a more sane legal environment than what we have now. A system which seems to practically encourage human trafficking by making it more profitable and hamstring law enforcement efforts in immigrant communities.

  • The average population of Americans working manufacturing jobs has declined by nearly 40% in the last 30 years and become more productive. Automation taking more jobs away than other sources of labor. The typical manufacturing worker is also a member of a union. In right to work states, the salaries are about half of that.

    Americans aren’t working in the agriculture sector in significant numbers either (Of course an agricultural work labor union could have prevented large numbers of illegal aliens there, but of course conservatives didn’t want that)

  • The whole, “we must secure the borders first” argument is like arguing that we can’t address the problems of drug addiction or drug crimes unless all illegal drugs are stopped at our borders. Its just an excuse not to address the situation and throw more money into efforts which are not really helping.

    Moreover, the lack of dealing with the drug and undocumented immigrants stems from the fact that some of the more powerful stakeholders of them are often the town power-holders, too.

  • How secure does the border need to be before you are satisfied enough to address the problems of illegal immigration? The answer is, never. It will always be used to table discussions as it will never be “secure enough” to even bother to talk about anything else. It is a bad faith diversion from the issue.

    Nothing wrong with having a secure border. But to make it a contingency for discussion of immigration is complete and utter nonsense. As a nation with more international relations and trade than North Korea, there will never be an “air tight” border. The idea of pretending opponents to “The Trump Wall” and heavyhanded ICE tactics as being for “Open borders” or “Amnesty” is another way to avoid reasonable discussion.

    “Our open borders have been slowly destroying America creating division and increasing costs of social support.”

    We have open borders? Since when? Oh right, you call any immigration and international trade “open borders”. There is nothing wrong with creating division in America. America in lockstep is one which is no longer free.

    As for costs of social support, that is a longstanding myth. Immigration, legal or otherwise is hardly the strain on such services. Giving $1 Trillion of public resources to the uppermost wealthy at the expense of working people however is a strain on such things.

    “chain or lottery immigration without very strict vetting, much stricter than we now have”

    You have no clue what vetting is involved in either of those programs. By all means describe the flaws in how either family based visas or the diversity lottery are evaluated by USCIS. You and conservatives in general are full of crap here. “Chain immigration” is white supremacist term which Trump has tried to normalized for mainstream discussion.

    Both Family Based immigration and the Diversity Visa program work quite well and are extremely well vetted. The latter being at the highest level of scrutiny since the applicants need to be otherwise qualified for permanent residence and possible citizenship. Trump and conservative attacks on these programs are nothing short of the white supremacist agenda to attack all immigration. Efforts to maintain a white majority at the expense of the nation and economy.

  • And while the confusion continues those that take advantage of the undocumented continue to derive cheap labor from desperate workers as well as skirt laws of fair wage practice and taxation.

    Fixing immigration would raise the cost of doing business in America.

  • Both benefit from both keeping the problem going and for demonizing people involved at its lowest levels.

  • So obviously they don’t want these people to documented and with a legal visa. Plus they benefit from being able to just call ICE and discard them at will. This is what happens when one attacks organized labor. It creates a race to the bottom where full time workers are encouraged to go on public assistance because their employers don’t want to pay living wages.

  • As I write this, citizens of Indianapolis and football fans around the nation are mourning the loss of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson, who was hit and killed by a suspected drunken driver Feb. 4. The driver, Manuel Orrego-Savala, had been deported from our country twice before. The way to have demonstrated love for Jackson and his family would have been to have a strong border that kept Orrego-Savala out of our country and off our streets.

    If you look for it, you’ll always be able to find what you want to back up your prejudice, but it doesn’t mean that that’s all there is to the story.

  • Odd that a God who created borders told the Israelites to invade other people’s land “flowing with milk and honey”. And wipe out nations.

    And told the aggressors not to commit murder.

    Almost as though he was senile (or imaginary?).

    Nasty gods are found in the mind of nasty people who are too cowardly to take responsibility for their nastiness.

  • That’s the game.

    Come to think of it, that is probably the benefit of racism: to have an inferior under-paid group who will be relegated to the odious tasks the dominant class refuse.

  • And our much higher standard of living in USA? Built on the backs of cheap Mexican labor. Send the dreamers back to sustain this cheap labor pool?

  • The final lesson is wrong. “Third, Jesus commanded us to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:31) And in the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus made it clear that our ‘neighbor’ was anyone we came in contact with who had a need — not just legalized citizens.”
    The command to love your neighbor just as you love yourself is a command to give your life for your neighbor. Jesus made it clear that our neighbor was the good Samaritan — the person who did God’s will by ministering to the needs of the injured man. We are to love those who do God’s will just as we love ourselves. Jesus does not command us to love the priest and the levite as we love ourselves (though we are to love even our enemies by treating them in their own best interests according to God’s will). Jesus does not command us to love any needy person we meet just as we love ourselves.
    Yes, our neighbors are not just “legalized citizens”. But our neighbors are just God’s people, which means that many “legalized citizens” are not the neighbors we are to love just as we love ourselves.

  • An outstanding example of the ability to “cherry-pick” scripture and twist it’s meaning 180 degrees! Pastor Jeffress’s turns the story of the Good Samaritan on its head to justify the persecution of all immigrants for the misdeeds of one – almost completely opposite what Jesus intended. So unfortunate that he is the spiritual leader of so many poor souls.

  • One of the many problems with Jefress’s position is found in his oversimplifying the role of government. For the role of government cannot be reduced to just that of protecting its citizens. The role of government also includes not visiting injustice and policies that would impoverish the people of other nations, especially those nations that border the one’s own nation.

    Of the 5 source countries from which the most illegal immigrants come to the US, 4 of them have been harmed by US policies. 3 of the them were targets of coups while the last one suffered from a mutually agreed trade policy. These actions of the US have increased the human need to emigrate and thus the number of immigrants. Should the US accept only those immigrants who are guaranteed not to commit crimes? Or could the US denationalize and deport its own citizens who commit heinous crimes to be consistent in protecting its citizens? These are questions that Jeffress should address the next time he writes about what governments should do regarding immigration.

  • We are a nation of laws. We have to abide and respect our laws if not we would turn into the country that these people are coming from just look at Mexico for example the majority of people who break the law do not get reprimanded. The cartel and corruption run the country because they don’t follow laws. Anything that is labeled ILLEGAL in our country is ILLEGAL.

  • No surprise you worship the golden calf buffoon. Casual lies & misinformation are your joint specialty. No one, zero, nada, zippo of either party has called for open borders. Southern crossings are at a 20yr low. In addition to think that an obscenely rich opportunist cult leader could know the will of Jesus is laughable. Came to this site looking for insite & wisdom found grifter in the tank for power and influence.

ADVERTISEMENTs