A Biblical Case Against Open Borders
The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.
--Proverbs 22:3 and 27:12
The topic of immigration can easily become emotionally charged in this day and age, as well as highly politicised with little critical examination in light of the Bible and of plain reason. My practical, logical, and biblical case for limited immigration and semi-closed, controlled borders follows.
Reconstructionist open borders proponents (OBP) will request evidence of God granting a nation the authority to restrict the free movement of any person. This presupposition is actually faulty; is it not true that the civil magistrate must necessarily be explicitly delegated a specific power in Scripture before they are allowed to undertake that effort, but even granting the presupposition, I believe the objection can be answered from the scriptural evidence.
Please first check this article, this sermon, and especially this article. I hope to augment what brothers Halbrook and Trewhella have already said; I believe more bulk to their respective cases can be added. This article is not meant to stand alone from their work. Nor am I looking to become a guru on the topic in the eyes of any; I seek to persuade others of the truth and to glorify the King in proclaiming truth and taking thoughts captive to make them obedient to Christ, and nothing more.
This article will focus on the question of what governmental policy should look like, answering the question “To what extent should a nation allow immigration?” rather than spending much time on the question of whether it is permissible for a given individual to seek to emigrate to a given nation. Each individual must make his own decision about where to attempt to live and move, but governments are responsible to at least some extent for the protection and well-being of the citizens of the nation. Thus, whether the government enforces strict or lax border controls is more the question at hand.
God Created Nations
Genesis 10:32 - These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.
Genesis 11:7-9 - "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech." So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.
Deuteronomy 32:8 - When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.
Acts 17:26 - He 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.
God set boundaries in place, confused languages and created tribes, and separated peoples from one another. Doubtless He did so for many reasons, but one obvious consequence is that sinful people often find a wonderful excuse to sin against and oppress others in the differences between people groups. The initial human action to band together under one human organisation actually met direct opposition from God, who condemned it and took action to frustrate its plans. Today’s Left (and most of the Right) would have us return to One World Government again, through the unrestricted movement of people, contrary to the express wishes of the Lord.
People Groups in Old Testament Israel
In Old Testament Israel, people groups are treated as distinct, not free-flowing rivers of people just on their way somewhere or another without control or recognition and restriction by the host nation. Sojourners are held apart in certain ways from Israelites within Israelite territory. For example:
They are mentioned separately.
Exodus 12:19, 20:9, 23:9; Leviticus 16:29-30, 17:8-15, 18:26-28, 19:9-10, 20:1-2, 22:17-19, 23:22, 23:42-43, 24:16, 24:22, 25:6, 25:35-47; Numbers 9:14, 15:12-16, 15:26-30, 19:10, 35:15; Deuteronomy 1:16, and Ezekiel 44:7-9, to name a few.
Genesis 15:13 - After 400 years, the immigrants to Egypt were still not Egyptians.
Genesis 43:32 - Even Joseph, the second most authoritative man in all Egypt, the interpreter of dreams, was not acceptable to the Egyptians but was rather "abhorrent" to them. OBP will probably (and rightly) claim that no one should emulate the Egyptians’ behavior and persistent ethnocentrism. I agree. The point is that the nations did not successfully mix, and that is the pattern I am pointing out - what happens in reality when only a few people are indwelt by the Spirit of God rather than what should happen, and what can happen when many people are indwelt by the Spirit of God.
Notice also Isaiah 19:19-25 - notice how Assyrians go to Egypt to worship there and vice versa, but it doesn't say anything about Assyrians becoming Egyptians.
In Daniel 3:12, various Babylonian officials point out to King Nebuchadnezzar that "There are certain Jews whom you have appointed...” Notice how the Hebrews are still known as set apart by the Babylonians. They had Babylonian names, governmental positions, salaries, authority, jurisdiction, and a stake in the nation's well-being. They were still Hebrews in the eyes of the Babylonians, and as a result sinful men leveraged that different-ness to try to get them killed.
Ezra and Nehemiah - the Persians still recognise the Hebrews as a separate people group.
That’s to say nothing of the New Testament, in which distinct nations continue with recognition, as in Matthew 24:7, Mark 13:8, Luke 21:10, Revelation 7:9, and elsewhere.
Different standards of behavior and law apply to them.
Exodus 12:43-45, no non-Israelite was permitted to eat the meal for arguably the most important annual feast in Israel.
Exodus 12:48-49, no non-Israelite is even permitted to celebrate the Passover unless he has been circumcised. It should go without saying that circumcision is a very significant personal investment, representing an intense drive to assimilate within the host population and do one's best to imitate the culture. Do we see similar drive among most any modern immigrants to the USA or Western Europe, for example?
Exodus 23:22-33, notice verse 31 - "I will fix your boundary". Boundaries mean something to the Lord, and in this context are more than a mere formality where someone might look at a sign saying "now entering Israel". Notice verse 33 - "they shall not live in your land". Why? Because if they did, then the Israelites would end up sinning against God and emulating their wicked practices. There is a reason why God gave the Israelites so-called "laws of separation", because they were to keep themselves separate from the other nations, which were a corrupting influence. Sojourners could come in if they gave up their idols and pagan practices and became members of the covenant community. Presumably, travelling merchants could also pass through the land on the way to other nations provided they did not do anything to corrupt the people. But this verse by itself puts the lie to any claim that Israel had "open borders" in the modern sense, and gives ample justification for careful immigration policies - namely, the protection of one's people from moral and spiritual corruption.
Do the modern countries of Western Europe or the USA have too few wicked practices among the native population such that it is wise to import a wider and deeper variety of wicked practices, some of which will provoke conflict (eventually violent), including many jihadis whose wicked practices are intentionally and directly aimed at inflicting violence on unbelievers?
Leviticus 25:44-46 (cf. Judges 9), the rules regarding slavery are different between Israelites and non-Israelites.
Deuteronomy 14:21, Israelites were allowed to sell things they found dead (rather than slaughtered themselves) to foreigners, though they themselves were not supposed to eat it. How did the Israelites know to whom they could sell that meat?
Deuteronomy 17:15, no foreigner was allowed to be king of Israel. Only a "brother", an Israelite.
And yet assimilation into Israelite culture is a major crux of admittance for a foreigner.
That is to say, just as culture is, broadly speaking, religion externalised (though some practices are better described as extensions of various national, local, or even familial traditions), and any foreigner would pretty much by definition be a pagan, the culture of that foreigner would have to be rejected for the sake of embracing the externalised religion of Israel, the worship of Yahweh. See Isaiah 14:1-2 and Deuteronomy 5:14 and 16:9-15, for example. Significant levels of assimilation are not how an objective and honest observer could describe most immigrants into the modern West. Further, modern immigration is explicitly anti-assimilationist. After all, calling for assimilation as a condition of immigration makes you a no-good racist bigot, according to the Left.
Other Biblical Considerations
Let's move on to discuss some other angles to this question.
In 2 Chronicles 2:17-18, how did Solomon perform this count if border controls weren't in place and immigrants weren't kept track of?
Leviticus 19:9-10, 23:22, and Deut 24:19-22 contain instructions not to shake one's olive trees twice, not to glean to the edges of the field, etc, for the benefit of the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. How much provision is that actually going to be, since it is a small portion of each harvest? Especially since it's to be shared between those three classes of people? And who are most likely to be shortchanged and bullied away - the jihadi "refugee", the thirty year old migrant worker, or the orphan/widow? How would a Reconstructionist OBP, who simultaneously rightly calls for the abolition of police, suggest a nation go about enforcing the correction or prevention of these sorts of obvious hazards? What does this sharing arrangement tell us about how many of these sojourners living off the charity of others are expected to be in Israel at any given time?
Deuteronomy 28:41-44 (cf. Lamentations 5:2) - Covenantal curses related to the emerging dominance of immigrants.
Yes, it's best for a nation to repent and serve Jesus. If that's not happening, what do more sojourners mean? Rising resentment in a people already filled with sin, and in the case of Deuteronomy 28, dominance by a minority. What does that often lead to? War. In Lamentations 5:2, immigration and the economic benefits immigrants supposedly bring are a literal biblical lamentation.
A point I believe is worth discussing more:
Deuteronomy 27:17 - cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor's landmark.
Proverbs 22:28, 23:10-11 - do not move an ancient landmark.
These passages directly address private property. Does it have any applicability to respecting longstanding societal institutions and giving them the benefit of the doubt rather than glibly overthrowing them?
How on Mosaic Law/general equity principles would we handle the transfer of private property in today's world? Mosaic property law was based on preserving the property/inheritance of a family line. The main point of Jubilee, with respect to property, was to return the land to its original familial owners, if one of them had managed to lose it in a time of financial distress or utter irresponsibility. And even outside of Jubilee, other family members had the right to buy back any land sold (Leviticus 25:25-28). The whole point was to ensure that each bloodline had a piece of land to call its own. This dovetails with the point of Levirate marriage, which was to help ensure that the bloodlines would not end simply through the normal vicissitudes of life.
Practically, this would have had the effect of disincentivising immigration, as it would have been difficult for immigrants to own or control property. As such, the vast majority would have been relegated to either homelessness or a lifetime of service to an Israelite family or families, if the laws had been properly and thoroughly enforced. The economy prescribed by the Old Covenant is inherently protectionistic (insofar as it would make sense to apply this term to the second millennium BC) and discriminatory, particularly along ethnic and familial lines.
The point is, one can't directly map Old Testament Israel property law onto a modern American context, unless I'm missing something, if for no other reason than the lack of divine guidance for tribal borders and the jubilee years. There's no hereditary right to property that was apportioned out by God in the modern West. There is pre-existing ownership, which has unfortunately been largely superseded by government ownership. The owner of a given property is supposed to relinquish his property at his will, either by purchase price or by choice to donate or something.
Large People Movements Versus Armies
One might well ask what constitutes a “large-scale wave” of immigration into a given country. It seems to me that the people of the nation must decide what is “large” and what is not. In other words, they must decide how many people total and/or from any one given people group they are going to allow to enter their nation. Many considerations will come into play in this assessment, including how many would overwhelm the infrastructure, whether any short-term catastrophes are driving the movement, the nature of the catastrophe(s), pre-existing diplomatic relationships and tensions between the people groups in question, how many immigrants might constitute a threat given the military readiness of the host country, etc. We see the number of troops involved in armed invasions vary wildly in Old Testament Israel; sometimes a few thousand people were the relevant significant threat, while other times the armies in question might have numbered in the hundreds of thousands or more. In the latter case, a group of a few thousand would be nothing more than a band of raiders, while in the former case where military preparedness was markedly lower, a few thousand was a crisis.
Let us consider the massive groups of foreigners that entered Old Testament Israel and talk about how they were dealt with.
Philistines, Amalekites, Edomites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Arameans. Resisted.
And then others like Gibeonites were enslaved. This is not a great start for the open borders position. Every or almost every record of large movements of people to a different location once the nation of Israel was established either brought war with it or was the result of violent conquest.
OBP typically claim that these are armies and that nations have the right and authority to resist armed invasions by armies. This raises some important questions. How does one distinguish between a large group of foreigners that is an army versus one that isn't? Is it a matter of uniforms? Do OBP believe that Philistines or Midianites wore standardised uniforms during the Old Testament era? Do those crossing the border just have to say with their mouths that they are there looking for a new home? Or do their actions have something to do with it? How long between when they enter the country until when they begin to cause violent problems within the country and take up arms? These are questions that OBP must answer rather than mock with unfounded accusations of fear-mongering. I suspect that the answer here might be, (1) the presence of one or more authoritative commanders, (2) an organized and cohesive plan, (3) self-recognition of violent intent.
OBP commonly appeal to "alien/sojourner" passages, but those actually affirm my position, as seen above, and even if they affirmed the open borders position they have nothing to do with large-scale emigrations. OBP beg the question of whether large-scale immigration is good and right when they cite these passages, for the passages merely state that some sojourners are already in Israel. And a good number of these sojourners, if not the vast majority, were probably Egyptians that left their own country with the Israelites during the Exodus.
Think about it: Exodus through Deuteronomy were written while Israel was wandering in the Sinai desert, between the Exodus and crossing over the Jordan. The commands are in the present tense, and there was no one immigrating into the Israelite camp in the desert. So, the people to which the word "sojourner" refers were not immigrants at all, but rather Egyptians who supported the Israelites and left their own country to travel and live with them. If anything, they were "co-sojourners" with the Israelities, at least until the Israelites received their promised land.
The ancient Hebrews resisted invasions of all sorts of different peoples around them and resisted mixing with other populations in intermarriage. They had borders around their nation. They had walls around their cities. It's the way of people, generally speaking, outside of the unifying grace of Jesus Christ poured out in regeneration.
Ezra and Nehemiah Were Against Open Borders
The whole of Ezra and Nehemiah provide a very difficult narrative for OBP to resolve and maintain their position with biblical consistency. Let's take a look at some specifics.
In Ezra 4, the Hebrews reject the proposition that foreigners help them to rebuild the temple, saying they have "nothing in common with us" in it. The foreigners respond with strong opposition. The opposition continues until Persian King Darius commands the work be continued, at which point the Hebrews' enemies conclude that further struggle would be counter-productive to their own interests. Finally, in Ezra 9-10, the separation between Hebrews and foreigners is stressed to such an extent that 10:11 carries the command: "Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers and do His will; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives."
Note in Nehemiah 2 that the main opposition to rebuilding Jerusalem's walls comes from an Ammonite, a Horonite, and an Arab. In 4:2, it is hard to imagine Sanballat refraining from employing an ethnic slur against the builders. Nehemiah responds with a prayer that Sanballat and Tobiah be forcefully emigrated, which is interesting.
In 4:7-8, "Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites...conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it." A disturbance in it. How is this some sort of obvious armed invasion? This is more like infiltration, with a time-delayed plot to break out in violence once successfully inserted with sufficient numbers into the objective. This is no formal declaration of war, no gentlemanly slap across the face with a glove or dropped gauntlet.
Verse 9, Nehemiah is not sure whence the danger comes, so they set a guard day and night against the troublemakers. Verse 11, critically, the enemies plan thus - "They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work." They don't attack immediately upon crossing the border (ie, the wall). They wait until all their plans are in place, then they attack.
What if Nehemiah had been unaware of these men's plot? Thankfully, he was aware. What was his response? He closed the borders with a show of force. Once the wall was at full height, there was no need for an armed show of force, as the walls were enough deterrent for armed attack.
Verse 22 - At that time I also said to the people, “Let each man with his servant spend the night within Jerusalem so that they may be a guard for us by night and a laborer by day.” Nehemiah controls access to the city, keeping the nationals in and keeping the foreigners out. Was he being fearful and not trusting in the Lord? Or was he being prudent and wise, carefully preparing against the plans of his enemies?
In 7:5, Nehemiah decides to create a registry of all nationals returned from exile, thus obviously setting apart any foreigner. In 13:3, they go even further and exclude all foreigners from Israel! 13:16, we see merchants from Tyre in close proximity to the inhabitants of Jerusalem once again tempting them to sin by ignoring the Sabbath for the sake of profit. Nehemiah refuses the Tyreans entry into the city on the Sabbath. In 13:25, an echo of Ezra 9-10, Nehemiah curses those who intermarried with foreigners.
It is difficult to imagine how Nehemiah might greet an active, vocal OBP with anything other than a flurry of blows about the head and a pulling out of handfuls of beard. Perhaps our OBP friends will claim that Nehemiah's actions and attitudes were ungodly? How would Ezra or Nehemiah answer the question "Where is the Biblical prescription for closed borders?"
The immigration question carries some very important pragmatic implications.
What if it is a matter of considerable historical precedent that large groups of foreigners within a host population eventually become a source of violent conflict between the two people groups? That doesn't mean that the immigrants were lying when they first entered. It means that conflict develops over time between tribes of people who consider themselves substantially different from each other and in competition for limited resources.
My thoughts are in no way intended to endorse this incipient conflict or to imply that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can't overcome and prevent it. Rather, I am thinking in terms of large populations of unregenerate pagans and the consequences of armed conflict for the free proclamation of the Gospel.
OBP can point to some passages that say "don't mistreat the random alien doing business in your midst". But they aren't sojourners or aliens if there are a zillion of them, and living, established there, are they? By definition, refusing entry is not mistreatment of a "sojourner in one's midst," as the person in question is not yet in the midst of the people.
And they were supposed to follow the Law, assimilating. Why? One pretty obvious reason would be so that war wouldn't break out. God generally hates massive bloodletting and all the collateral damage that goes with it.
Open Borders Show Poor Love of Neighbor
War is the ultimate expression of lack of neighbor-love. Individuals and governments (governments being merely an institution composed of individuals) are commanded to love one's neighbor as oneself. Long-term, my position is loving my neighbor better than the open borders position.
--I want nations whence emigrants come to prosper, not suffer brain drain from when those who have sufficient ingenuity to flee, flee instead of staying put so as to bring prosperity to their nation.
--The other side of the same coin - the money they earn in the host country and then send back to their family goes straight out of the economy in which it was earned. And that's bad in the long run for the origin country, getting free infusions of cash without anyone in country having worked for it. Here’s a half-whimsical illustration.
--And that’s one fewer job available for a local.
--I don’t want people to leave their families in their home country (which is a very significant percentage) to go to a different country. That’s bad for the origin nation (fewer stable families; children without [mostly] fathers) and for the host nation (single, bored men with no familial investment in where they live).
--I want the USA to prosper, not suffer catastrophic war.
--I want those who would flee whatever they're fleeing in their origin nation to seek, not shortcut, prosperity in such a way that it ends up dragging everyone else down, but instead to work in their own nation to bring prosperity to it.
--I don’t want to foster and perpetuate the white savior mentality.
--I don't want immigrant populations to be targets in coming internecine warfare, outnumbered, ridiculously outgunned, and blamed by racists and convenience-racists for all societal ills. The white population will probably win because they have the most resources and the most people and the most guns, and that means that the immigrant populations will probably lose and very possibly suffer very severe casualties. The Alt-Right, for example, refers often to "Reconquista 2.0" for a reason.
--It would be much harder to blame immigrants for the things for which immigrants are being currently blamed in the USA, if they weren't in the USA. There's a greater chance for conviction of sin where it belongs in each nation that way.
Law of Unintended Consequences
OBP fail to understand that one must examine also the unintended outcomes from any given action. In the case of immigration, one need not go far before encountering the story of someone who braved a dangerous journey in order to emigrate. Often they can bear witness to harrowing tales of peril and of how others in their group of emigrants died on the journey. These accounts are often milked by leftist and Reconstructionist OBP for the “sob story” effect, in an attempt to switch off rational thought and get the emotions involved in swaying national moral opinion. Yet they are missing something.
As the current state of affairs stands, that kind of perilous journey is common enough as to be a solid possibility whenever a potential emigrant is evaluating whether to set off from his or her country toward another one. Word gets around, the Internet is available everywhere; people know they could die on the desert crossing near the Mexico/US border, or in the Mediterranean, or wherever else. That they choose to undertake the trip anyway is admitted motivated partly by the desperation they feel about the state of affairs in their place of origin, but it is also motivated by the fact that they think they will be allowed to enter and remain once they arrive. This article provides a few examples of what I mean.
By broadcasting far and wide the willingness to allow immigrants to enter and remain, the host country thus encourages that sort of dangerous journey. Thus the host country, by not firmly turning people away who skirt the legal process of requesting to emigrate, helps fund coyotes and other human traffickers and encourages people to risk their very lives in order to change location. People die because of these trips! The “welcoming” host country backhandedly encourages that loss of life and all the other consequences listed above that come with it.
A Comment On Refugees
Any refugees fleeing from a short-term catastrophe should come prepared (if not materially, at least psychologically and voluntarily) to return to their homes as soon as the catastrophe is over. Equating "immigration" with a "refugee crisis" is an inexcusable exercise in equivocation. This is seen in that refugee problems can be legitimately addressed with humanitarian refugee camps while legitimate immigration cannot.
Moreover, preventing refugees from leaving border camps and circulating in society at large disincentivises immigration under the guise of being a "refugee," and makes fleeing one's home something that one will only do if actually in legitimate threat of loss of life and limb.
Modern Israel - A Case Study
Obviously the best case scenario for modern Israel, which is a godless state full of wickedness, would be a nationwide repentance, turning to Jesus the Messiah, a revival touching every individual, by God’s mercy.
Failing that optimal outcome, which in any event Dr Gary North in his Unconditional Surrender suggests is probably not forthcoming until much later in world history, should modern Israel throw open its borders to all comers except those who have an established and known record of jihadi or other criminal activity? So in that case, are they to assume that despite decades and indeed generations in which the surrounding Muslim nations have inculcated an institutionalised hatred for Israel and Israelis in their children, with newly-opened borders there would be no new jihadist recruits to be found with no previous criminal record? I believe these sorts of questions wedge the OBP between the Scylla of their principle of the unrelenting assumption of innocence until proof of guilt and the Charybdis of blatantly obvious impending national destruction due to the almost uniform and amply demonstrated hostility of surrounding people groups. If Israel opens the border, the deterrent against violent infiltration that the walled and guarded border represents vanishes. Only the most naive or ignorant can conclude anything other than that Israel would be very quickly overrun and the “Jew pigs” (as they refer to them) pushed into the sea. Opening the borders as OBP suggest would lead to national annihilation outside of divine protection, which nobody should presume upon when in a state of extreme apostasy.
The Catalonian Independence Referendum
Vast amounts of coverage, both mainstream and social media, ensured the “illegal” referendum of 01 October 2017 in Catalonia received worldwide attention. With such a necessarily decentralised system to keep the referendum operational, it came as little surprise that many of the identification and verification steps to which, say, an American might be accustomed were simply not present. There were videos of people walking up to a ballot box in the middle of a street and dropping in their sometimes-sealed ballot envelopes, then walking away.
This is a simple illustration of OBP myopia, made possible by the conveniences of modern Western life. In most modern American elections, one simply goes to one’s polling location, presents ID, and receives the ballot, which one then inserts in a machine for counting. It all seems so objective and straightforward; one then goes home and watches the news to find out who won, with most results being made known that very evening, within hours of the closing of voting. Yet even in that system, fraud is quite easy. What happens if immediately before, or up to a couple of years before an election, a foreign people group begins a mass migration (ie, invasion) into the host country, and thus wins dominant political power via the democratic process?
Just how would OBP propose this be dealt with, especially given the emphasis many of them place on the abolition of police and the radical shrinking of government? How will it be known who gets to vote? Some sort of voter identification? Who issues that? On what authority? Where is that sort of thing prescribed in Scripture? By what standard is one issued one of those?
And what happens when the original population of the region becomes fed up with the sudden loss of political power, the turn away from the lifestyle they had heretofore enjoyed? That’s right - war is a very plausible outcome.
Ironically, many OBP with which I am personally familiar applauded the Catalonian referendum. Which would create a separate nation, adding more borders to the world rather than reducing the number of borders in the world. The plebiscite had everything to do with the self-conscious national identity of a people group who despite spending decades as “Spaniards”, never assimilated into Spain to a high degree. They retained their language, national flag(s), culture, and identity. What happens now is anyone’s guess, but with hundreds wounded on election day and an unclear path forward, armed conflict is a possibility. In my view, it is not likely, given other considerations such as the lack of availability of weapons or much of a widespread military tradition on either side. However, it is easy to see how such tensions and a situation could easily result in war in a different scenario in which for example either modern convenience infrastructure has broken down or was never there in the first place.
A Nation At War - A Reductio Ad Absurdum
Take a nation with mostly open borders; say, the United States. Imagine hypothetically that OBP have their way and the border protection is even more minimised than currently. Say also that Mexico becomes significantly more powerful through the benefits of open borders but a few decades down the line conflict springs up between the two nations. Say Mexico gathers an army and invades the United States, the main corpus of the army moving north and west to reclaim territory stolen from it during the Mexican-American war, matching the territory openly desired by the Aztlan movement. The American military machine moves to meet the Mexican military, and battles take place in Arizona and California.
Meanwhile, well over a thousand miles from the front, a huge surge of young Mexican men with similar buzz haircuts, approximately 30,000 (but of course, who’s counting? We have open borders!) move to cross the US border at Brownsville, TX. To anyone who asks (those asking would of course be the odd private citizen who happen to be present and the barebones administration of government staff, whatever that would look like in an OBP scenario), each and every one of them says they’re just moving to the USA for work. No big deal. No, my move has nothing to do with the war between Mexico and the USA. Wait, there’s a war on? I didn’t know about it! No, of course I am not a soldier. No, of course I don’t know any of these other guys. So this “large immigration movement” comes into the USA and… what?
If the OBP would not promote any attempt to restrict such a move in such a case, that OBP is a naive simpleton and should be pitied, and also educated about human history. Or else their bias should be identified for what it is and openly mocked and exposed.
If the OBP would promote an attempt to restrict such a move, one must ask: “Where is the Biblical prescription for closed borders?” These men do not constitute an army, do they? Are you presuming that they are guilty of dissimulation without proof of their guilt? Do you believe in the principle of innocence until proof of guilt or don’t you?
I have posed a similar kind of question to a few OBP in the past, and their response was mere scoffing, with no substance. I hope that future interactions with ideas such as these will be more substantive.
Individuals And Cultures
This situation illustrates again a flaw in OBP reasoning, which is their unjustifiable focus on applying the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” to every single individual when cultures exist and self-perpetuate for a reason. Culture is among other things the matching self-expression of a people group, indicating their identification with others who engage in those same practices and beliefs. Cultural upbringing forms an enormous part of any given individual’s belief structure and presuppositions; this is why government schools as an arm of the secular government must be abolished and replaced with biblical models of education that begin with the fear of Yahweh. However, that sort of institution is not in place in most of the world. Most people grow up in bondage not only to their own fleshly desires but the matured and ingrained desires and biases of their parents and authority figures.
OBP suggest that borders should allow for the free flow of people except for those with criminal backgrounds. While we can agree that those with significant criminal backgrounds should not be permitted to immigrate, the OBP naively forgets that not all crimes are mere crimes of passion or kleptomania. It is one thing to steal a car or sell stolen drugs. It is quite another to be part of a society, one of whose primary ideological foci is the destruction of the people group next door. Of course only some of those convinced of the righteousness of jihad will have up to this point have been identified, apprehended, and tried and convicted in a court of law. OBP talk like everything will be fine and dandy if you simply refuse entry to those kinds of people. Such talk ignores the obvious - the jihadis duly convicted of crimes are the mere tip of the iceberg, and you won’t know it until it’s too late.
And even for the other Muslims that may never commit a crime, the Muslim community as a whole almost always closes ranks against law enforcement, meaning that criminals all the way from terrorists to child rapists often go unapprehended. That sort of behavior is hardly limited to Muslims; it is common to many homogeneous groups when faced with outside intervention by members of what they perceive to be a different tribe.
Nehemiah and Ezra did not enact this policy. Instead, they recognised that whole people groups were attentively preparing infiltration and attack on their nation, and acted accordingly. How? By closing the border to those people groups. Why? Those people groups, not a mere handful of individuals, were systematically planning to invade while pretending they weren’t invading. And if you’re not forewarned of such events, how can one know whether that is the mind behind a large-scale emigratory move? You can’t. That’s why one must carefully restrict entry to people who have been carefully vetted, and that means borders can’t be open like OBP propose.
Yes, Israel is busily destroying themselves with their immoralities, perversions, and blasphemies. Why would we support policies that speed along their destruction while increasing the guilt of those who take advantage of unwise open border policies to destroy them?
Governments Control Entry
While we’re on the topic, OBP talk like open borders are essential to reducing government oversight and enforcement. They talk about abolishing police. Yet then they talk about preventing convicted criminals from entering the nation. Then they heap contempt on those who suggest building walls or putting armies on borders. How precisely do they propose to prevent criminals from entering? Especially when they complain that doing so would violate the private property rights of landowners along those borders?
If they stand against law enforcement agencies’ placement on borders, especially large borders like that between the USA and Mexico, or floating in the Mediterranean between North Africa and the southern coasts of Spain and France, what’s to stop anyone, criminal or not, from crossing over the border anytime they want?
Further, brother Halbrook in his above-linked articles, and I in this one have suggested numerous ways in which large-scale immigration poses serious threats to even the existence of the host nation, to say nothing of its economy and the viability of its labor force and wage structures. Why are governments supposed to protect their citizens from armed invasions? Because the consequences of those invasions are extremely serious and pose high levels of danger to the citizenry, for whose lives the governments are responsible in some very real ways. The same threats are present when we consider immigration.
Now to anticipate some frequently-posed challenges.
Aren’t You Just Afraid?
It is for this reason I began this article with Proverbs 22:3 and 27:12. To the biased eye, prudence is too easily confused with fear. It may be helpful to ask the one accusing of fear whether they set an alarm clock in the morning, pre-schedule their coffeemaker to begin percolating automatically in the morning, bring an umbrella on an outing if it looks like rain, or save money for the future.
Rather, I believe I am dealing with reality. My argument corresponds with what is really on the minds and hearts of somewhere around 10% of the Muslims on the planet (which adds up to approximately 100 million people) and what is really their strategy, that is to say the three stages of Jihad. Even modern examples of jihadi infiltration, making news headlines on a very regular basis, go unnoticed by our OBP friends. They rightly say “the Gospel is the answer” but then do not deal with the fact that the Gospel is being faithfully preached these days by very few to very few, and their contingency plan is to refuse to adapt. It is possible they have weirdly convinced themselves that all these news stories are merely fake news (which is, in fact, a claim that Bojidar Marinov has explicitly made in just such a context). Tell that to the victims, I guess, of jihadist attacks since Islam began in the seventh century! Meanwhile, it seems to me that it is the OBP who are afraid of the facts, since they I see no interaction with how to deal with patterns of behavior such as this beyond “innocent until proven guilty” and “borders are for defending against invading armies”. People who are confident in their positions take on all comers.
Amazingly, OBP attempt to deflect the obvious threat of jihad by asking whether secular humanism or Islam is responsible for more death in the modern USA. The answer is clearly secular humanism, yet the OBP misses the fact that just because Islam comes in second place, it wouldn’t be a good thing to have more jihadis in our current environment, where secular humanism would use that threat to oppress liberty even more, and people would accept it even more in exchange for more security from the jihadi threat. After all, it doesn’t require more than a small group of committed jihadis to cause great terror, damage, and destruction in an attack or two. Asking that question is supposed to support the OBP argument?
Aren’t You Just Racist?
Of course not. Here are the roles I see “race” (I prefer the term “ethnicity”, by the way) playing in this discussion:
--Ethnicity can be (not is definitely) an (not the) indicator of how probable it is that a given person might adhere to a given worldview. That is to say, as Thomas Sowell pointed out in his Black Rednecks & White Liberals, the main problem is culture. Skin color and other visible ethnic indicators are otherwise irrelevant except that…
--...many people, as should be obvious, are indeed racist, and all it takes is a sizable minority to start a war, especially when another sizable chunk of the population is easily persuaded to act in effectively racist ways in response to a crisis. Which leads all too easily to war. The problem is not that I am racist; it’s that many others are, and the fixes I know how to apply to that problem haven’t fixed it as of yet. Which, again, goes back to the culture problem.
Aren’t You Engaging In Oppression?
To make this assertion stick, a God-given right to move freely anywhere at any time would need to be demonstrated. I’ve heard many people assert a right to many things, and most of those asserted rights are ad hoc and imaginary; the right to privacy which leads to the right to murder one’s own offspring is one example. It is not necessarily oppression to tell someone they are not allowed to go where they want to go. Not everyone is allowed into my bedroom. That is because my bedroom is private property - there are overarching reasons to limit access to just anyone. The same applies to the immigration question. There are overarching reasons to limit access. OBP will disagree that those reasons exist, and that’s fine - let them dispute those reasons, but simply asserting that prospective immigrants are being oppressed begs the question.
In this, I of course contend that nobody should engage in wanton violence toward prospective immigrants, as should go without saying. It is possible to oppress people trying to immigrate, but turning them back at the border using sufficient force and nothing more is not in and of itself oppression.
You Just Don’t Love Foreigners, Do You?
This sort of objection, sadly frequently made by OBP, is an example of an emotion-driven red herring and well-poisoning, much like Bojidar Marinov’s favored epithets “idolater” and “worshiper of man rather than God”. How many non-WASPs I have welcomed into my home for meals (hundreds), how many international students have lived as a resident in a spare bedroom (at least a dozen), how often I have visited Friday prayers at a mosque (over fifty times), or how many years I have spent as a missionary on foreign soil (more than two) is irrelevant. I actually love “foreigners” so much that I don’t want the things listed above to happen to them or to the USA or any Western European nation. I want revival in Jesus’ name. War is a major obstacle to revival, and even if revival breaks out as a result of war, lots and lots of people will go to Hell and needlessly suffer terribly in the interim.
Papers Between States?
Why would anyone require papers to pass between Oklahoma and Texas? Is that a national border? Does the Red River represent any substantive boundary between cultures of significant heterogeneity? Of course not. Objections like these do help, however, cut through the superior-sounding rhetoric employed especially by our Reconstructionist OBP brethren, so we can see the paucity of reasoning underneath. When they are reduced to this sort of objection, it serves as a sign of desperation.
The Jobs Nobody Else Wants?
This utilitarian argument is answered by the law of the free market. Restrict the labor available in a given area by restricting immigration and closing borders, and wages will necessarily rise to attract people to do those jobs, if the jobs indeed need to be done. If they don’t need to be done, the jobs will disappear and be replaced via entrepreneurship and free enterprise with jobs that do need to be done, at a wage sufficient to attract enough laborers to do the work.
On the other hand, if you continue to flood the market with labor of a foreign origin, you make provision for artificially driving wages down, especially when the laborers in question are allegedly willing to work for a lower wage than citizens.
What About Eminent Domain?
Some object that closing borders necessarily entails the violation of the property rights of landowners. Suppose a rancher owns a ranch whose property lines encompass land through which a national border runs. On what basis will the government of either nation place a fence and potentially even higher-level security on this individual’s property? On what basis could either government dissect his property?
It is essential to remember that in most cases, we are discussing previously-existing border arrangements; to talk about drawing a border from scratch would be totally different. In the case of present realities, consider a ranch whose property is entirely within the USA and whose southern limit is on the border with Mexico. It is in the best interests of the USA to build a fence preventing unopposed border crossings except at authorised points. Realistically, a fence does not require much real estate, but we could imagine a particular left-leaning, foolish rancher objecting to the use of his land for such a purpose.
In that case, the solution is simple - leave his land unprotected to illegal border crossings and build the fortifications at the next available real estate. This will potentially leave significant tracts of land unprotected, but if the owner of the property does not accede to the obvious benefits of protection from mass immigration, let him suffer the consequences as they may come. In the meantime, his property rights can be respected while the rest of the nation is protected. The landowner could even alternatively be offered the opportunity to cede his land to Mexico, so that he could live under Mexican law and become a Mexican citizen. Even if many were to accept such an offer (which is unlikely), the loss to the USA would be negligible, and it is indeed important not to infringe on private ownership rights.
Essentially, the eminent domain objection is merely a practical one, striking at no way at the root of this controversy.
The Way Forward - Should the Gospel Triumph
The Gospel is the solution to culture, but what if a bunch of people from one culture who rejects the Gospel moves into another one that rejects the Gospel? An even worse situation arises.
What if the Gospel does gain the ascendancy, though? In that case, we should most certainly revisit these topics. Should the triumph of the kingdom of God advance significantly in a nation, then the Lord will bless that nation, that nation will be full of people who love their neighbor, and the idea of a welfare state will be nothing more than that - a failed idea of the past, spat upon and despised by those who embrace biblical teachings on economics and social welfare. Yet given a situation where God is blessing a largely obedient nation with prosperity and holiness, is an open border posture best even then? Suppose a country like Uganda should continue in the trajectory it has to some hesitating extent embraced in recent times and God should bless it noticeably. Should a country of 41 million (circa 2017) welcome, say, 3 million Sudanese Muslims? No gift of prophecy is needed to foresee enormous potential problems in such a case.
Why would it not be better for a nation whose God is Yahweh to enjoy all its prosperity and engage in sacrificial giving and evangelistic outreach (what some might call “missionary” work) to other nations, rather than welcoming everyone into the home base so that its light can be diluted and oppression between people groups (re-)emerge as a major problem?
To my OBP friends - Is it that you just believe that war won't happen? You think revival will break out and so we should throw all our eggs in that basket in terms of never preparing for the future? In that case, spend all your savings. Revival's breaking out. The heavens will open. Remove the locks on your doors, get rid of your guns, sell your car. You won't need them when revival hits. The fact that you aren’t living that way shows that you can’t be consistent with your stated beliefs.
Let us work to avert the terrible consequences warned against above, close the borders, deport those who are illegally in the country, considerably restrict further immigration, and all the while go about the work of abolition. When the USA becomes a Christian nation, let's reopen this discussion about more open borders, being a light to the nations, etc. The USA currently is not a light to the nations. It's a false light. War will ruin even what we have. War is the worst outcome.
Don't let any large group of foreigners hang out in your country and problems like those discussed above diminish significantly. You also, of course, avoid problems like this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this. I have heard some OBP claim these are fake news; such an assertion is most unloving to the victims of such attacks - past, present, and future. If OBP have good and compelling reasons to believe that such videos are fake, then they may present their arguments. Absent any such arguments, however, they ought to be called out for saying nonsense. It is of course always strange to see Calvinists casting doubt on the depravity of humanity. Call it a case of cognitive dissonance; sometimes I get the feeling even they don’t really believe what they are professing.
Their denials are approximately as credible as Bojidar Marinov's amazing claim that "ALL lefties have always been for closed borders. Even today. Closed borders have always been the Left's policy, from Karl Marx until our day." When men like Marinov are confronted with evidence clearly overturning their assertions and they merely double down and respond with emotional invective, it is merely one more reason to look on their position with suspicion. What other evidence have they overlooked or refused to engage in their emotion-driven considerations of this topic?
While the Scripture also mentions the requirement to be available to provide temporary relief in certain short-term emergency situations to refugees fleeing legitimate uncontrolled violence in their native land (such as Isaiah 16:1-4, which, even if generally applicable, at most discusses sheltering refugees, and nothing about hosting them just anywhere in your nation or granting them permanent residence. Nothing about perpetual refugees, nothing about not sending them back to where they came from) and that we should certainly discuss those situations, I believe it is incumbent on a national government to enact policies that neither go against God's law nor move the nation directly toward one-world government or war. An open borders policy does all three and is therefore irresponsible and unwise.
I of course invite correction and clarification on any representation I have made of anyone’s open borders position. Please, let’s talk this through together, but if you still stubbornly hold to an open borders position, take heart - your side is definitely on the ascendancy, because of the rise and power of the Left in Western Europe and the USA. Congratulations, I guess.