Keep Migrants Out

Keep Migrants Out

In 2015, there seems to be one item of news that never seems to leave the news – migration. Whether it is in relation to the General Election, with some parties focussing their manifestos on reducing migration into the UK, migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh starving on sinking boats of South East Asia or wave after wave of Libyans arriving on the Italian shore. The opinion of nation states seems to be to keep migrants out, but how do we respond as Christians?

Leviticus 19:33-34 states:
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not ill-treat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (NIV)

Whilst this command is given to the Israelites in light of their previous status as migrant slaves, the same command would seem to carry through into the New Testament given that Jesus’s followers are described as ‘foreigners and exiles’ (1 Peter 2:11) whose citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20), therefore we as Christians should understand the plight of the foreigners, as we ourselves are foreigners.

If we are required to treat the foreigner in our land as if they were a native, and do not feel comfortable with that approach, whether due to prejudice, concerns about the nation’s finances, or otherwise, then the solution seems to be to stop them coming in. That means tighter border controls, not taking on asylum seekers (or at least not a proportionate level according to need), potentially leaving the EU and some nations refusing to ‘rescue’ overflowing boats of starving asylum seekers.

Do such tactics absolve us from responsibility? Given that our national borders could be claimed to be human social structures and that global corporations arguably have more power over nation-states, not to mention the advances in technology that lead to global communication and travel, to define our land as merely the nation state may be very naïve. If this is the case, then our ‘Keep Out’ signs may be quite naïve as well and may be a sign of our own short-sightedness.

Graeme McMeekin
Vice Principal
Scottish School of Christian Mission