Why Christians Should Support Building a Wall – Part II

Written by Jonathan Clay de Hale

In just the week since Part I of this two-part series was published, we’ve learned from a new study that the number of foreigners illegally living in the United States is twice as high as the conventionally accepted level of 11.3 million (and could be as high as 29.1 million, as suggested earlier); that Democrats intend to pressure President Donald Trump to raise the refugee resettlement number to 110,000 refugees a year (five times the number of foreign refugees taken in 2018); and that the Border Patrol found nearly 200 illegal aliens from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador wandering in the Arizona desert—the third such finding in the last month.

In addition, 650 Bangladeshi nationals have been arrested in just one sector of the Texas border over the last year; 200 illegal immigrants are arrested each week within the five-state ICE region that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee; and 9.3 million foreigners have resettled in the U.S. since 2005 through “chain migration,” including entire villages.

This is not good news. As demonstrated in Part I, the effects of foreigners illegally living in the U.S. include crime that comes with unprotected borders (even if not all illegal aliens commit crime), the substantial amount of taxes required to support their presence, the subversion of our elections, and the erosion of the rule of law.

In short, illegal immigrants create chaos and deplete limited resources. But even with all the evidence of the harm illegal aliens do, we remain deeply divided over what to do about foreigners residing illegally in the U.S.

On one side are those who support President Trump’s promise to build a “big, beautiful wall,” approve of his ban on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries and applaud his administration’s aggressive agenda to deport those who are here illegally. They accuse opponents of ignoring the crime that comes with immigrants, of surrendering our national sovereignty and the rule of law, of turning us into a salad bowl instead of a melting pot, and of importing (Democrat) votes.

On the other side are those who advocate open borders, support amnesty for “undocumented immigrants,” and who believe it is our responsibility to share our national wealth with the less fortunate. They accuse ICE of being the Gestapo, the border patrol of being Nazis, and Trump of being Hitler whose followers are inhumane racists.

Christians find themselves tossed between the two positions. Do we support the poor or less fortunate of the world by offering safety and opportunity, or do we insist on the rule of law and control over our borders as a sovereign nation? Do we protect our own citizens from the threats that illegal immigrants pose, or accept the risk as part of the cost of accommodating the oppressed?

On one hand, Moses wrote that the foreigner should be treated as the native-born. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves and that we should care for the stranger, widows, and orphans. In doing so, we may show hospitality to angels without knowing it.

On the other hand, what about Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls? How about Paul’s declaration that we should be subject to governing authorities or his guidance for following our conscience? What about not doing “anything that endangers your neighbor’s life”?

For the believer, developing a clear conviction from a tangled mess of national policies, political preferences, cultural norms, and biblical teaching can be overwhelming. How do we determine what is right to do?

Part of the answer is to test our arguments with the Bible. I want to specifically address two common claims that Christians make in support of illegal aliens, and, once I’ve examined those, I will respond to several additional arguments and then explain what a wall will do.

Claim 1: Jesus was a refugee; therefore, we must welcome refugees.

This is the most common claim used by Christians who oppose a border wall or who justify allowing illegal immigrants to stay. On the surface, this argument seems unassailable. If Jesus was a refugee, how could anyone possibly oppose welcoming refugees?

Proponents are referring to the story of Herod the Great threatening to kill all infants two years old and younger once he discovered that a king had been born in Israel. Joseph was told in a dream, “Arise, and take the child and his mother, and flee into Egypt.” Joseph does as he is told, and travels from Bethlehem to Egypt, where the family stays until the threat is over.

Christians who use this argument draw parallels between Jesus fleeing Herod and modern-day refugees fleeing persecution. They say things like, “the fact that Jesus himself was a refugee and that we will be judged partially on our hospitality to the stranger, rejecting refugees should be troubling.”

While it sounds compelling, there are problems with this interpretation of the biblical story and with the historical situation associated with the argument.

Take the word “refugee.” We must assume that today’s advocates of illegal immigration use a modern definition of the word since they parallel Jesus’ experience with our contemporary situation. While there are several definitions, I’ll use the one provided by the well-respected Christian agency World Relief: “A refugee is someone who has fled one’s home country and cannot return because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group” (emphasis mine).

In other words, a refugee is someone who permanently flees their home country because of imminent, persistent, personal danger. Strictly speaking, Jesus was not a refugee according to this definition because, while he was in imminent personal danger and fled with his parents, he returned home with them after Herod died.

At the time both Israel (in 63 BC) and Egypt (in 30 BC) were part of the Roman Empire, governed by prefects appointed by the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, and connected by a coastal road known as “the way of the sea.” In addition to being ruled by Rome, Israel and Egypt shared a Hellenized culture.

There was also “a large Jewish population in Alexandria” (founded by Alexander the Great after conquering Egypt in 332 BC) and we know that “Jews had been immigrating into Egypt for centuries… making Egypt the largest concentration of Jews living outside their homeland.” Matthew’s gospel doesn’t tell us where the family settled but it is likely they were surrounded by people with whom they shared a language and customs. Not quite the narrative that immigration advocates imagine.

Finally, we must not divorce the account from its primary purpose, which Matthew explains in verse 15: “And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” Jesus’ journey to Egypt and its parallel to Moses and the Exodus cannot be overstated. The context in which the narrative occurs is filled with prophetic fulfillment. It was decidedly not included as an illustration of how immigration policies should be handled today.

Used as a theological argument for welcoming illegal immigrants, “Jesus was a refugee” doesn’t stand scrutiny. If Jesus weren’t a refugee, then what about the Bible’s command to “love the foreigner residing among you”? Shouldn’t we at least do that?

Claim 2: The Bible tells us to care for foreigners and sojourners.

Leviticus 19:34 says, “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” Similarly, Deuteronomy 10:19 says, “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”

Believers who use this argument assume that “foreigner” means something like, “not a native of the country they come to.” While that is our modern understanding of the word, the Hebrew language is more nuanced.

The Hebrew word used in Deuteronomy 10:19 is “ger” and is translated into English as “stranger,” “sojourner,” and “alien” in addition to “foreigner.” But “foreigner” is misleading because Hebrew uses other terms for “foreigner,” i.e. nekhar and zar. In a helpful article, Old Testament Professor James Hoffmeier writes that, “The distinction between these two terms and ger is that while all three are foreigners who might enter another country, the ger had obtained legal status.”

He goes on to demonstrate from Scripture that ancient countries had borders, and travelers (or “sojourners”) were expected to receive permission to enter another land (see Genesis 47:3-6 and Numbers 20:14-17). By referring to Deuteronomy 10, “progressive” Christians actually undermine their case because they offer only a superficial correlation between ancient Jewish law and our modern situation without any meaningful understanding of the biblical context or the meaning of Hebrew words.

The Bible does not categorically support illegal immigration by telling us to love the foreigner, nor does it tell us anything about our national policies concerning refugees (illegal or otherwise) in the account of Jesus fleeing Herod.

But what about other arguments opposing the wall?

Argument 1: Diversity is our strength!

Whoever coined the phrase, “Diversity is our strength!” was brilliant. It’s catchy, bold, and inclusive, and actually contains a grain of truth: we can learn from others who have had different experiences from ours. And curbing illegal immigration does not diminish diversity. The United States accepts 1,000,000 legal immigrants from all around the world annually.

But that’s not what proponents of diversity mean when they argue that diversity is a strength. What they’re talking about is uncritical multiculturalism, which can be a weakness. “Progressives” use it as a battering ram against the conservative, Judeo-Christian culture on which America was founded and that its citizens used to hold in common.

The formal definition of diversity is “the quality or state of being different.” But, in order to be strong, Americans must have, at the very least, a common culture and a common set of values. As Tucker Carlson recently asked,

How precisely is diversity our strength? Can you think of other institutions, such as marriage or military units, in which the less people have in common, the more cohesive they are? Do you get along better with your neighbors and coworkers if you can’t understand each other, or share no common values?

In eras past, when someone came to America, they adopted American values, including personal responsibility, hard work, respect for authority and the law, and love for the American idea. It was called “assimilation.” That’s not what we have now, especially regarding illegal aliens. They don’t assimilate because they can’t safely do so without exposing themselves to arrest and deportation.

The answer is not to grant asylum so that 30 million people are then “citizens.” The answer is to regulate which and how many foreigners are allowed to settle here so that we don’t undermine our historic American culture. A wall can do that.

Argument 2: No one is “Illegal”

This is a curious argument that changes the meaning and application of the word “illegal.” (Changing the meaning of words is a favorite tactic of “progressives” and socialists.)

Because “illegal” is an adjective, let’s start with the noun, “alien.” An alien is defined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as “any person not a citizen or national of the United States.” It is possible to be an alien and to be in the U.S. legally as a “lawful permanent resident.” “Illegal alien” refers to a foreigner who is unlawfully present in the United States.

Activists prefer “undocumented” or “unauthorized” to the term “illegal.” They also prefer the term “immigrant” to the word “alien.” I prefer the term “squatter,” “trespasser” or “intruder.”

Advocates aren’t actually debating the status of someone being in the country illegally. Their complaint is virtue-signaling pomposity that takes the focus off the legal status of people who are unlawfully in the country and changes it to the foreigner’s dignity as a human being.

No matter what you call them, though, they entered the U.S. illegally and remain in violation of our laws.

Argument 3: Walls are ineffective

The objection that a wall will not be effective is unsupported by the facts.

We learn from Israel that a 150-mile fence constructed along the Sinai border reduced illegal immigration by 99 percent. A study from Harvard reported that “17,000 African immigrants entered the state illegally in 2011. However, in 2013, after the completion of the wall, the number fell to a mere 43.”

In addition, Israel’s security fence along the Palestinian territories put an end to suicide bombings, which killed nearly 500 Israelis between 2002 and 2004. By 2009, only 15 Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorism.

A little known fact is that Spain built a border fence around the enclave of Ceuta, a city on the North African coast. The fence forms part of the border with Morocco and was built to prevent migrants from entering Europe. After being built, the fence reduced illegal immigrants from 2,100 in 2014 to just 100 in 2015.

Closer to home, San Diego built a 46-mile-long wall along its 60 miles of border with Mexico. Initially, the wall wasn’t meant to stop illegal crossings but, rather, was meant to end “the state of relative anarchy” that existed along the border. According to this article, the wall “has reduced the number of apprehensions of illegal aliens in San Diego from more than 628,000 in fiscal 1986 to its current number of around 30,000 a year.” While that’s still too many, it’s less than 5 percent of what it used to be.

Argument 4: The wall isn’t worth the cost

The wall is projected to cost between $12 and $15 billion. Using the likely education level of illegal border-crossers and applying fiscal estimates developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS), a 2017 report suggests that if the border wall “stopped between 160,000 and 200,000 illegal crossers—9 to 12 percent of those expected to successfully cross in the next decade—the fiscal savings would equal the $12 to $15 billion cost of the wall.”

Of course, some say the estimates are largely understated and that the total cost of a wall could be close to $30 billion. Others try to calculate the costs objectively and think it a fool’s errand. But as the president said during his campaign, “The cost of building a permanent border wall pales mightily in comparison to what American taxpayers spend every single year on dealing with the fallout of illegal immigration on their communities, schools and unemployment offices.”

Part of what makes these walls successful and worth the costs is that they act as deterrents. As Professor Wayne Grudem explained in a recent article, “Walls on a border are a major deterrent to evil and they provide clear visible evidence that a city or nation has control over who enters it, something absolutely essential if a government is going to prevent a nation from devolving into more and more anarchy.”

Yet we are besieged by open-border, illegal-immigrant, pro-amnesty advocates. They prioritize the desires of foreign trespassers over the safety of Americans; undermine the rule of law; and demand that we support illegals with free health care, education and the right to vote. They protest that foreigners breaking and entering “just want an opportunity,” “work hard,” “are escaping oppression” and “pay taxes”—but none of those reasons justify violating our laws.

For the sake of law and order and the preservation of our unique American culture, which gave birth to the freedoms we enjoy, Christians should support getting the wall built.

Take ACTION: Please call the U.S. Capitol switchboard number at (202) 224-3121. Simply call and give the operator your zip code, and he/she will connect you with your elected officials’ office. Urge your U.S. Representative’s office to “build the wall.” Congress has the authority to fund the border wall and other measures for immigration enforcement, and they must act now. The primary job of the federal government is to protect its citizens.

Simply put, a border wall is critically important to the national security of the United States.

You can also Tweet @ your Senators/Representatives with a similar message regarding border security using hashtags like #BuildTheWall, #TrumpWall, #BorderWall, #BorderSecurity, etc.

Jonathon is a disciple of Jesus Christ, a husband, a father and a longtime Illinois resident. He’s been in the business world for more than 20 years, has an earned MDiv., and is an astute critic of political and cultural trends.

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