Students of James Madison High School in Brooklyn attended school online this week after officials moved almost 2,000 illegal migrants into the school’s gym ahead of inclement weather.
Far from an isolated incident, the students’ exile caps-off more than five-years of skyrocketing illegal immigration through America’s southern border.
A record-breaking 785,400 illegal migrants were apprehended in the first three months of 2024 — the highest number of quarterly encounters ever recorded.
Overwhelmed with the new arrivals, beleaguered border states like Texas and Arizona started transporting migrants awaiting immigration proceedings to self-described sanctuary cities in 2022.
As illegal immigration increasingly effects kids’ lives, parents should consider teaching their kids to biblically engage with the issue.
Here’s a couple of points to get you started.
- Biblical conversations about illegal immigration start with compassion
- Illegal immigration isn’t biblical because of the three S-es: Safety, Security, and Sustainability
- Faithful prayer is more important and powerful than any human policy argument
Before diving into policy particulars, it’s important to ground your conversations in God’s commandment to love our neighbors.
Too frequently, worldly sentiments about border security suggest illegal immigrants are less than human, or “the bad guys.”
It’s an undeniably easy, attractive way for adults to view the world because it doesn’t require introspection or discernment. Unfortunately, children are also vulnerable to believing this lie, often because they don’t have the capacity to fully understand complex issues.
You can help your children avoid dehumanizing illegal immigrants (making them the “bad guys”) by emphasizing that God creates and loves all people and offers them forgiveness for every sin — including breaking the law.
Parents can contextualize this lesson with Bible stories illustrating how Jesus engaged with people who had made mistakes during His earthly ministry, and how His love healed and redeemed them.
As children get older, you can further humanize people who come to America illegally by exploring why many of them come — fear for their safety, desperation to provide for their families and desire to better their circumstances.
Thoughtful questions like, “Have you ever done something wrong when you were afraid?” can help children start to understand these moral dilemmas and identify with those searching for better lives.
Biblical discussions of immigration policy should be anchored in our desire to love and care for our neighbors.
Once children understand people entering America illegally are humans worthy of care and compassion, they are equipped to discuss what policies most effectively care for everyone involved.
To explain why illegal immigration is wrong in a biblical context, just remember the three S-es: Safety, Security and Stability.
Illegal immigration through America’s southern border greatly endangers migrants, who face innumerable environmental and social obstacles on their journey.
Migrants face severe heat, risk of drowning and dehydration. More recently, thousands of migrants immigrants have swum across the Rio Grande river and shimmied under concertina barbed wire to illegally reach Texas.
The journey is so dangerous, in fact, that many rely on smugglers and human traffickers to get them across the American border, a gambit that can lead to deadly accidents.
Business is booming for cartels and illegal organizations making money off migrants seeking their help. Corrupt smugglers can charge would-be immigrants exorbitant fees to cross the border, leaving immigrants in debt bondage once they’ve reached the other side. Other times, cartel members torture vulnerable migrants to extort money from their families abroad.
Children are particularly vulnerable to human- and sex-trafficking by cartels. A brief DNA-testing program implemented at the border in 2021 revealed single migrants often “rent” children to pose as families, seeking easier entry to the U.S.
By explaining how dangerous the journey is, you can show kids why it isn’t caring or compassionate to incentivize people to give it a go.
Legal immigration procedures allow law enforcement to vet people entering the country, making sure they won’t harm American citizens.
Illegal immigration circumvents these checks and balances, allowing violent people — or even terrorists — to come to America with no one the wiser.
Cartels and other dangerous organizations take advantage of illegal immigration to engage in human- and drug-trafficking. Most of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which is causing unprecedented deaths across the nation, comes through the southern border.
Illegal immigration puts our biblical and physical neighbors — American citizens — in danger, suggesting it’s neither caring nor compassionate to allow it.
To understand the potential impact of illegal immigration on American society, kids must understand basic civics.
Our government largely depends on knowing how many people live here.
America’s public utilities and social programs, like homeless shelters and food stamps, are funded by taxes, which each working American pays according to their income. America’s political system functions based on vote tallies from districts with specific populations.
If people have entered the country illegally, they are unknown to the government — they aren’t paying taxes and or voting. That means one of two things: either they suffer by abstaining from voting and using public services (including law enforcement), or they illegally vote and use public services, draining tax dollars and causing American citizens to suffer.
What’s more, without an accurate social and political system, America wouldn’t be able to offer the privileges and rights so many illegal migrants are seeking — which means everyone would suffer.
The three S-es help show kids that illegal immigration harms everyone involved, inconsistent with Biblical ethics.
But that doesn’t mean parents should suggest the border security system America has in place is perfect.
Many migrants fall through the cracks — those who should qualify to come to America, but aren’t allowed in, and those who try to come through legal channels but suffer interminable waiting periods.
Teach your kids that it’s good to lament and turn to God when broken systems fail to dispense justice.
Christian believers enduringly hope that God, who perfectly embodies truth and mercy, sees and empathizes with the plight of every person who comes to this country illegally. We believe we can petition Him to intervene and dispense His perfect justice in every situation, and that He will rid the Earth of sin and brokenness when He returns.
No policy discussion or human reasoning will ever surpass the effectiveness of prayer and obeying God’s commands. If you can teach your child nothing else about illegal immigration, teach them that!