When I read the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats recently for Gospel Doctrine class, I realized it was relevant not only to our treatment of the poor generally, but very specifically to the recent discussion on immigration which has been such a hot button issue in our nation over the past few years.
“I was a stranger, and ye took me in.” The Savior didn’t specify “a stranger who is a lawful citizen of your particular nation or a legally processed foreign national.” Nor did he specify “a stranger who speaks your nations language and who holds job skills highly attractive to employers in your community.” No, the Lord simply says “stranger.”
Might it then be that he might judge us for how we treat those “strangers” who immigrate into our land for the greater opportunities available here, or how we advocate that our nation treat them?
The Hebraic law of Leviticus is very direct about how Lord would have his followers treat immigrants.
And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God (Leviticus 19:33-34).
As was Moses in his final messages to the Hebrews.
He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).
As the scriptures refers to the children of Israel as “strangers in the land of Egypt” in both verses, it is clear that they are using the term “stranger” to mean “immigrant, foreigner” (note also that footnote c in verse 18 explains that “stranger” could be translated as “alien”). We are warned specifically not to vex (oppress, trouble) the stranger, but rather to love them as one of us, help them find a place among us (“food and raiment”).
Doesn’t exactly sound like a call to evict them, criminalize them, or denounce them as Marxist Satanists who hate us and are out to destroy “Christian America.”
Let us put aside the provincialism and fearmongering when considering immigration. Instead, remember the counsel of the scriptures. These people are children of God looking for a better life, just like us and our forefathers who came here in the first place. We should craft a moral, charitable immigration policy which will help them do so.