Every baby born in this country, regardless of whether that baby’s parents are legally or illegally in the U.S., was born here because that’s exactly where God determined that little one would be born. At least that’s what I believe the Bible teaches. In Acts 17:26-27, the Apostle Paul spoke these words to the citizens of Athens:
And He (God) has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. (NKJV)
Some view this Scripture from a macro level — that God does indeed determine the preappointed times and boundaries of entire people groups, but not individuals. However, if God could exert His sovereign power on a large-scale, then certainly the Creator of the Universe, who with a Word spoke everything into existence, could work at the micro level as well, determining where each individual would be born. I do not believe that I was born in this country by accident or coincidence. In fact, each and every person born in the United States of America, the most blessed nation in the world, is here because God desires them to be here.
In light of Wednesday’s ruling, enjoining major portions of Arizona’s Immigration Law from going into effect, there are some within the halls of government that do not desire certain American citizens to remain in the land of their birth: Children of Illegal Immigrants Born on American Soil. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) believes it may be time to end “birthright citizenship,” the legal principle which confers automatic citizenship on “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” In the U.S. House of Representatives, there are currently 92 co-sponsors of a bill that would grant “birthright citizenship” only “if one of the child’s parents is a U.S. citizen or national, or a legal immigrant.”
There’s just one small problem with this approach. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution! Adopted on July 9, 1868, in the aftermath of the Civil War, Section One of this Amendment clearly states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
That means that anyone who is born on American soil is a citizen of the United States. And regardless of one’s opinion on comprehensive immigration reform, the children of illegal immigrants are likewise citizens of this great country. The only way to change this fact is to amend the Fourteenth Amendment. And to attempt this strategy, no matter how pure and non-discriminatory someone’s motives might be, will appear to a large portion of the voting public to be both petty and discriminatory. Appearances matter and they often become more persuasive than reality, whether we like it or not. Conservatives would be wise to reject any talk of tinkering with the Fourteenth Amendment’s “birthright citizenship” principle.
In my previous post, Are You An American Citizen?, I argued that our borders must be secured first before we move to a discussion of a “pathway to citizenship” for those who are illegally in this country. Regardless of what happens in the legal and political arenas of the immigration debate, the Church — follower’s of Christ — must respond with grace to those who live in our communities and neighborhoods. And that includes people who may be here illegally.
Grace is unmerited favor. God granted us His favor not only when we didn’t deserve it, but when we should have received His judgment. When we comprehend how rich God’s grace is toward us, then we will want to show that same grace to others. While Christians should voice their opinions in the public square regarding immigration or any other issue that America faces, we must never forget that the Church’s primary mission is not practicing social justice, but rather proclaiming the amazing grace of and glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all people, regardless of their ethnicity or language or immigration status.
The people who live near you and your church are not there by accident or coincidence. God has determined not only their place of residence, but yours (and mine) as well. Remember that the next time you discuss the problem of illegal immigration. It may not change your view on border security or amnesty. But maybe, just maybe, it will cause you to see the multitude of real people right in front of you who are seeking after God in the hope that they might find Him. And as you see them, respond with grace and love, pointing ALL people to the One who “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth!”