In Evangelical circles, there seems currently to be a blanket acceptance that “there is no such thing as an illegal immigrant.” Or at least, those who disagree with such a sentiment usually self-censor, an illiberal situation that applies across the Western world, which according to the prevailing spirit, is divided into good liberals, to whom diversity is strength and immigration highly desirable, and evil racist populists to whom all foreigners are scum.
After various church prayers and presentations taking the former view for granted, I’ve sometimes had intelligent and godly individuals, who know that I tend to think through issues like COVID, climate change, Ukraine, gay marriage and so on, come and whisper to me that they feel the issue ought to be handled in a more nuanced way. I agree, at the most venal level because our vaunted inclusivity as Christians is not helped by alienating any visitors with worries about mass-immigration who, by all accounts, form a majority of up to 75% in the population.
We ought to be alerted to problems with the prevailing wisdom by the way that regions which have been most welcoming to immigrants, and so have accepted the highest numbers with open arms, are those which are beginning to turn against immigration most. We see this in the voting patterns across Europe, most notably in historically progressive Sweden, but also in Finland, Germany, Italy, France and elsewhere.
We see it not only in the degenerating immigrant cities of the USA, such as Los Angeles, but in well-heeled New England when Republican governors started to divert the Mexican new comers to their prosperous and pro-immigration communities, and they promptly moved them on.
In Britain, we see it in the social problems of areas most affected by immigration, one notable example being once sleepy towns market-towns like Boston in Lincolnshire, whose strongly pro-Brexit attitudes were largely engendered by their negative experience of actual diversity.
Let me summarise the unnuanced version of the Christian view thus:
- Asylum seekers are fleeing the threat of persecution and death.
- Even when they are not, economic migration from impoverished nations is justified for them to build a better life for themselves.
- The law of Moses commands kindness to aliens and strangers, “for you were once slaves in the land of Egypt.”
- Besides which, the kingdom of heaven is open to all who come (and ergo the kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should be too).
But we seem to forget that the Mosaic laws on aliens and strangers were given to a nation also commanded to drive out the tribes of Canaan, not only because their ways were evil, but because they would be a snare to the people of God. Arguably, it was the failure to eliminate foreign gods, especially in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, that led to the permanent loss of the ten northern tribes. Likewise, judges and kings alike were tasked with preventing the encroachments of Philistines, Edomites and so on, which were not only military, but also cultural. After the exile, some priests were disqualified because they could not prove their descent from Israel, the suspicion being that they were children of the mass immigration that had been the the policy of Assyria, a policy designed to homogenise its empire in much the way that Western globalism is planning today.
So the first point to establish is that the Bible cannot be said to endorse as an absolute, prior to the return of Christ, the idea of a world without any national boundaries at all, if that is interpreted to mean the loss of the cultural heritage of “tribes and nations of men” through mass-migration. And that is the situation in Britain today, if we view the rapid increase in population in the light of the reproduction of native-born Brits being at non-replacement levels. That is to say, all the population increase is due to immigration (and high birthrates amongst some immigrant groups), and that is as profound a demographic change as sharing your Christian family home permanently with a growing Muslim family.
There are very practical parallels here with Joshua’s Canaan situation. I have friends who say that Muslims who cannot hear the gospel in their own countries are free to hear it in Britain. But in my experience (for I had a fair number of Muslim patients) what such immigrants hate most about Britain is its godlessness. So on the positive side, most will tend to take refuge in the mosque, and in a black-market Sharia law, as a conscious rejection of the evils of “the hypocritical Christian West.” Remember that the main reason the gospel is not heard in Muslim countries is because of the prejudice of the people themselves, not the governments.
Also, as Patrick Sookhdeo of Barnabas Fund has long pointed out, for many Muslims, achieving 20% of the population of a country renders it a Muslim country in their eyes, and gives them the right to agitate for Sharia Law, including controls on other faiths. Religious tolerance is not a universal value, as Salman Rushdie knows all toowell.
When churchgoers represent a far lower percentage than 20%, and liberal institutions bend over backwards to penalise “Islamophobia,” it is naive for Christians to limit their thinking to “Welcome all comers!” That’s especially true since a majority of immigrants legal and illegal are now Muslim. I question whether Isaiah, condemning Israel’s idolatry and longing for revival, would also advocate the mass-settling of Moabite child-sacrificers in Jerusalem.
Still, the command to love the alien and stranger remains, and once freed from secular “diversity, inclusivity and globalism” ideology, it clearly includes welcoming political refugees, as David was welcomed by the Philistines, and true economic refugees, as Israel was welcomed by Egypt. It certainly includes treating aliens with justice (see Malachi 3), which biblically means treating them dispassionately, not with favouritism. Over-representation of minorities in the workplace and in the media is rightly perceived as injustice by the people, just as “No Blacks” is rightly perceived as injustice by the Windrush immigrant worker.
But that more nuanced welcome surely demands that we (or rather the State) exercises some discretion regarding to whom it grants residence, work and tax-payer funded benefits. The “pros and cons”of my title are a nod to the fact that a good deal of immigration (by more subtle means that small boats) is to serve the sex trade, and ditching your documents before evading the legal process is a great way for criminals to escape justice abroad and start out anew as con-men here. I cannot conceive that it is right for churches to have stringent safeguarding policies to exclude child-abusers from church life, whilst denying the nation at large the right to sniff them out and exclude them when they come from abroad.
That, of course, raises the whole question of why, in a culture which is so concerned about the abuse of women in the world’s war zones and Islamist strongholds, 87% of asylum-seekers are young males (75% over 18, and the rest defined as “children” even if of military age – hence the scandals over bearded six foot adults posing as children).
It also raises the question of why it is now standard practice amongst those arriving in small boats to destroy any identifying documents. If you genuinely come to benefit from the rule of law, from a land where you are at risk of arrest, torture, or murder, it would appear to be better to document the fact. If you destroy evidence, you commit diligent immigration officials to do lengthy and expensive investigations whilst you languish in a hotel, army camp, or hulks on the marshes – and I’m under no illusions that such a life is tedious and frustrating if you genuinely want to work your way in a new country. But then, why make it so hard by seeking only racist Britain as your destination, at the far end of Europe, and paying people-traffickers to risk your life in a dinghy rather than catching a plane and applying for asylum in the legal way? Does a nation not deserve honesty from those hoping to settle?
The answer – and in part I think it is genuine – is that the legal asylum system in Britain is broken, and was always (like most activities of liberal Western governments) profoundly unjust. It’s not as broken as those of other countries, perhaps. But not only does it fail to cope with the great number of genuine refugees, nor distinguish them from young men lured by the illusion that the West is Shangri La rather than Babylon at the point of collapse, but the decisions of an overloaded system could easily discriminate against the deserving for mere convenience.
For example, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy in Pakistan proves her identity and even provides her arrest warrant? Well Pakistan is an ally, and has a well-developed legal system. So maybe she is an Islamophobe, and deserves all she gets. Application Refused.
A swarthy guy with no papers who says he’s from Afghanistan and knows a clever human rights lawyer? What the hell – let him in, as we’ll never be able to get rid of him. Application accepted. Accordingly, even the Christian women would soon learn that the only way to avoid persecution is to lose your identity and say you were a sex slave in Iran.
On the other hand…
The national demographics of UK immigration are interesting, and spiritually and politically speaking sobering. If we leave aside, for the moment, the current peak in Ukrainian refugees, and the preceding swell in Albanian refugees, then most of the small-boat immigrants are from the following countries:
- Syria, where together with other Western nations we have illegally provoked a deadly civil war for the last decade, actively encouraging Al Qaeda and other Islamist groups as “freedom fighters” against the government. Perhaps, like the US, we are also stealing their oil.
- Afghanistan, which we invaded on spurious grounds, devastated for twenty years, and then abandoned to an Islamist regime worse than the one before.
- Iraq, which again we illegally invaded on cynically falsified grounds, killing their President, devastating their infrastructure, exiling their Christians, and killing maybe a million civilians as we did so.
- Iran, on which we have imposed trade sanctions that have impoverished the people, on the grounds that only we are virtuous enough to have a nuclear programme. Through Israel, the West has also bombed its facilities and assassinated its scientists.
Ukraine has sent refugees because the US instigated a deadly coup in 2014, NATO (Britain prominent within it) armed the country for a proxy war with Russia, and through the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, sabotaged peace proposals that could have quickly stopped the conflict we had provoked last year. In any case, it’s notable that we have took refugees from the west of Ukraine, which was mainly conflict free, and ignored the people of Donbas, not only the current war-zone but the area shelled by Ukraine for the previous seven years.
The single apparent exception to “refugees caused by British and Western actions” is Albania, deemed a “safe” country, but awash with criminality that there is every reason to suppose makes a new life in Britain an opportunity for new crime, rather than for building the host nation. But even here, I find that the Albanian President has accused the CIA (and let’s face it, our own intelligence community is a US puppy) of election interference and other meddling over many years. In fact, after the fall of communism, Albania became one big Ponzi scheme, which eventually collapsed at the expense of the ordinary people. I wonder who benefited from that, given that it sounds a lot like what the West set up in Yeltzin’s Russia, and that our own financial system is now being shown up by inflation and bank failures as Ponzi scheme too?
In other words, there seems a good case for saying that under the just providence of God, we are undergoing mass immigration not as a blessing, nor as a means of demonstrating our democratic and Christian virtue, but as a severe judgement for the destruction of other nations for gain. It is, of course, the elites who have gained the benefit of these wrongs, but it is we ourselves who have cheered them on, supplied the money, and recruited our young men and women to execute the programme. Just as it’s a truism that a people gets the government it deserves, maybe we also get the immigrants we deserve.
One final detail on this: I’m not at all sure how reliable the official demographics are. It could well be that if you come from some peaceful nation to get rich, tear up your documents, and claim to be a refugee from Syria, you’ll get registered according to that lie. But perhaps that doesn’t matter, because the list of countries I have quoted, being also the list of our recent national crimes, is an indictment of our foreign policy. The list should be used to lead times of repentance in churches, I suggest, before it leads us to wave the flag for unlimited immigration to other communities’ hotels, airfields and cruise liners.