Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group.

Also, remember these conversation tips: (1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, (2) Say something if you don’t understand, (3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree; it’s not rude, its just a good conversation. Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Is there a “Christian” way to deal with immigration?

The Main Questions

  • Look at the below definitions of ‘immigrant’ and ‘citizen.’ Do you agree/disagree? Would you modify them in any way?
  • Does the legal difference between ‘citizen’ and ‘non-citizen’ have significance from a theological perspective? If no, does this mean national boundaries and states are theologically illegitimate? If yes, what is the significance of these categories?
  • What are the purpose of immigration laws? Are nation-states exercising a legitimate power in creating them
  • Do Christian Scriptures offer any guide in the establishment of just and practical immigration laws? If yes, where? If no, explain.
  • Are Christians obligated to uphold and obey immigration laws? If yes, is this true even when such laws are unjust? If no, under what circumstances would you obey such laws?
  • Do Christians have a responsibility towards migrant peoples that is different than the ordinary citizen’s responsibility? Why/why not?
  • What Christian virtues/ideas do you think are important for guiding a response to immigration?
  • Is the creation of a more “Christian” immigration system possible? If yes, what characteristics would it have? If no, why is a “Christian” immigration system impossible?
  • Take a moment to think about some concrete actions that you could take to address immigration issues. What are they? How do they embody a Christ-like life?

Key Definitions and IDEAS

  • Immigrant // a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence. Merriam-Webster
  • Citizen // (a) a member of a state; (b) a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it. Merriam-Webster
  • Asylum vs. Refugee Status // People outside of the U.S. must apply for refugee status. People who have already made it to the U.S. border or the interior (perhaps by using a visa or by entering illegally) can apply for asylum status. Ilona Bray
  • Qualifications for Protection // People are qualified to seek protection in the United States because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to: (1) Race, (2) Religion, (3) Nationality, (4) Membership in a particular social group, and/or (5) Political opinion. USCIS


  • Poverty // In 2015, the poverty rate for immigrants was 17.3 percent, compared with 14.3 percent for the U.S.-born population. Census Bureau 
  • Benefit Use // In 2015, working-class, immigrant-headed households with children received 9.3 percent of their overall income from public programs …, in comparison with U.S.-born-headed households, which received 15 percent of their income from such programs. Cato Institute
  • Budget // In 2012, it spent almost $18 billion on immigration enforcement—24 percent more than its combined spending on the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, Marshals Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Migration Policy Institute
  • Sanctuary // A 2013 study found that police involvement with ICE leads to a 70 percent decrease in the likelihood that unauthorized immigrants report crimes to the police. Nik Theodore
  • Women // In 2015, the UNHCR interviewed more than 160 women who had recently arrived in the United States from Central America. Sixty-four percent of women interviewed reported that they fled their homelands due to direct threats or experiences of violence. These women recounted that criminal groups could track them anywhere in their homelands, necessitating that they seek refuge abroad and collusion between armed groups and law enforcement. UNCHR

Important Scripture

  • Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. // Exodus 22:21
  • Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ // Deuteronomy 27:19
  • When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. // Leviticus 19:33-34
  • For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. // Jeremiah 7:5-7 
  • Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ // Matthew 25:37-40 
  • Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. // Hebrews 13:2 

Thoughts from Others

  • Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door. // Emma Lazarus
  • For it is never to be forgotten that self-defense is the first law of nature and of nations. If that man who careth not for his own household is worse than an infidel, the nation which permits its institutions to be endangered by any cause which can fairly be removed is guilty not less in Christian than in natural law. Charity begins at home; and while the people of the United States have gladly offered an asylum to millions upon millions of the distressed and unfortunate of other lands and climes, they have no right to carry their hospitality one step beyond the line where American institutions, the American rate of wages, the American standard of living, are brought into serious peril. // Francis A Walker
  • I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong. // George Washington
  • We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant-descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre. // Enoch Powell
  • The Church without frontiers, Mother to all, spreads throughout the world a culture of acceptance and solidarity, in which no one is seen as useless, out of place, or disposable. // Pope Francis
  • The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency. // Alexander Hamilton