How to Use Illegal Immigration to Share the Gospel

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“People are coming to this country illegally, we are taking them out legally,” President Trump announced ahead of a planned “major operation” focused on removing criminals from America.[1] Operation Border Resolve targeted 2,105 illegal immigrants in more than a dozen cities who had received final deportation orders but had not reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.[2] This amounts to roughly .2% of the approximately one million immigrants with final removal orders, according to University of Southern California Public Policy Professor Roberto Suro.[3] Nevertheless, word of the pending raids generated a national fervor with numerous public officials warning illegal immigrants of the raids and instructing them in how to avoid ICE officers.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urged her caucus to spread the Democrat party’s “know your rights” campaign—an approach taken earlier this year when faced with the Department of Homeland Security’s initial threat of mass deportation raids.[4] She also used her weekly press conference to instruct illegal immigrants in how to avoid U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying, “An ICE deportation warrant is not the same as a search warrant. If that is the only document ICE brings to a home raid, agents do not have the legal right to enter a home. If ICE agents don’t have a warrant signed by a judge, a person may refuse to open the door and let them in.”[5][6]

Likewise, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted:

No matter who you are or what your status is, this is the United States of America – where ALL people have rights. Know yours.

Prepare. Visit http://WeHaveRights.US to learn how to handle this & other ICE encounters in multiple languages.

If people come knocking, you do NOT have to open your door unless there is a signed judicial warrant.

Check the site above to learn how to handle your rights in 4 scenarios in 7 different languages.[7]

And Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) provided immigration law experts at her office in Houston to offer legal resources to anyone looking for information regarding the “draconian” ICE raids.[8]

Around the country, mayors renewed pledges to block ICE access to local law enforcement resources. According to Vox:

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said, “If you want to come after them, you’re going to have to come through us.”

In Denver, Mayor Michael Hancock said not only had he directed his officers to refrain from assisting ICE, but that he has tasked social service employees with watching over any children left without parents because of the raid.

… Mayor Keisha Bottoms of Atlanta said, “Our officers don’t enforce immigration borders. We’ve closed our city detention centers to ICE because we don’t want to be complicit in family separation.” Other mayors, including Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot and New York’s Bill de Blasio, have made similar statements.[9]


These mayors were supported by thousands of protestors in sanctuary cities throughout the country. Protestors in Philadelphia shouted, “Shut down ICE!” And Representative Jesús Garcia (D-IL) told protestors in Chicago, “It’s about [expletive] time we tell this racist president loud and clear: stop criminalizing desperation.”[10]

Irrespective of such widespread support, these individuals are officially criminals in defiance of 8 U.S. Code Section 1325 (and 1326 for re-entry).[11] They are non-citizens of the United States who are attempting to reside within the borders of America without the proper paperwork and in defiance of a court order and official ICE notification mandating that they leave the country. As such, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is incorrect when she says, “A violation of status is not a reason for deportation.”[12] Instead, Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli is correct when he notes, “It shows you how far we’ve fallen in that it’s become news that [ICE agents] would actually go deport people who have removal orders.”[13]

Incredibly, we’ve reached a point where many Americans are angry with our nation’s law enforcers for enforcing the law, believing that our national compassion should nullify the law. However, justice demands that the law be enforced—regardless of how good these people may be, regardless of how much they may want to live in America, and regardless of the living conditions of their home country. Justice demands that people enter America through the proper channels.

The drama surrounding this issue of illegal immigration serves as an object lesson for those who are spiritually minded. Our God is a judicial God who will not allow even His own feelings to override His requirement for justice. We know this because 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God desperately wants everyone to be saved, but not all will be saved. It pains Him to destroy those whom He created in His own image. So painful is the very thought that He was willing to suffer and die in humiliation in order to provide a legal path to redemption for anyone willing to reject the sinful ways of this world and align themselves with God and His purposes (Col. 2:13–14). However, this remedy—like any legal contract—is only binding for those who follow the proper procedures. It has been rightly said that we come to God on His terms, not ours.

In the case of salvation, the Apostle Paul details God’s terms, “[I]f you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ … For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Rom. 10:9–11, 13). Likewise, John 3:16 and 18 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. … Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Anyone who does this receives not only forgiveness from their sins and its ensuing penalty, but he also becomes a child of God and a citizen of heaven (Rom. 8: 15–17; Gal. 4:4–7; Eph. 2:19). However, there is only one way to secure these. Jesus explains, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

This sounds simple, but it requires a total commitment. It is a complete change of allegiance from the usurping ruler of this world to the Creator God. This is why Jesus warns, “‘Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.’”

Surprisingly, there will be those who believe they can manipulate the system. For them, God’s requirements are too difficult. As such, there will be those who believe they can sneak into heaven and secure the blessings of citizenship without following God’s established path. In fact, Jesus told a story to illustrate this point. He likened heaven to a king’s wedding feast for his son. According to Matthew 22:11–13, “’[W]hen the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Today’s heart-wrenching stories of separated families and deported immigrants are a reminder that compassion and love have their limitations. A time is coming when God will commission His enforcement officers to cast out of heaven all who have not entered through placing their faith in Jesus and aligning themselves with His purposes. In fact, Jesus described the scene as being filling with weeping and gnashing of teeth when the realization sets in for those who tried to illegally sneak into heaven that they will be eternally separated from God and from participation in His kingdom.

The subject of illegal immigration can be a wide-open door of opportunity for us as Christians to share the good news of the gospel with others. It affords us an opportunity to illustrate the importance of entering heaven the correct way, and the consequences of shortcutting the system. Moreover, this issue is not going away. If anything, it is expanding as, Tuesday, President Trump expanded the federal government’s power to quickly deport illegal immigrants by removing regulations restricting it to migrants caught within 100 miles of the border who have also only been in the country for less than two weeks. Now, the deportation of undocumented immigrants caught anywhere in the country who illegally entered the United States within the past two years can be expedited.[14]

As Christians, we forfeit prime opportunities when we ignore such reports. The gospel is most effectively communicated when it can be applied to the real world or illustrated by real-world events. In our culture, there are few real-world illustrations more obvious than that of illegal immigration. Perhaps it is time we talk about it!

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Bose, Nandita. “Crackdown on Immigrant Families to Start Sunday, Trump Says.” Reuters, July 12, 2019, 10:06 a.m.

2. Jordan, Miriam. “More Than 2,000 Migrants Were Targeted in Raids. 35 Were Arrested.” New York Times, July 23, 2019.

3. Carcamo, Cindy and Andrea Castillo. “Trump’s Threatened ICE Raids Could Hearten His Base, and Terrify Immigrants.” Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2019, 12:50 p.m.

4. Ferris, Sarah and Ted Hesson. “Pelosi Urges Dems to Help Counter Trump’s Planned ICE Raids.” Politico, July 11, 2019, 11:20 a.m., EDT. Last updated July 11, 2019, 1:25 p.m.

5. D’Abrosca. “AOC, Pelosi Team Up to Teach Illegals How to Avoid ICE.” Lara Loomer (blog), July 12, 2019.

6. Crowe, Jack. “Pelosi Advises Illegal Immigrants on How to Avoid ICE.” National Review, July 11, 2019, 2:43 p.m.

7. Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria (@AOC). “No matter who you are or what your status is, this is the United States of America – where ALL people have rights. Know yours. Prepare. Visit http://WeHaveRights.US to learn how to handle this & other ICE encounters in multiple languages. If people come knocking, you do NOT have to open your door unless there is a signed judicial warrant. Check the site above to learn how to handle your rights in 4 scenarios in 7 different languages.” Twitter, July 11, 2019, 6:43 a.m.

8. McLaughlin, Eliott. “ICE Has Begun Raids to Round up Undocumented Immigrants, Official Says.” CNN, n.d. Last updated July 15, 2019, 7:21 a.m., ET.

9. Resto-Montero, Gabriela. “Mayors and Protestors Remain Defiant ahead of ICE Raids: ‘You’re Going to Have to Come through Us.” Vox, July 13, 2019, 4:23 p.m., EDT.

10. Issa, Nader. “Thousands Rally Downtown to Protest ICE Raids as Little Village Streets Empty Out.” Chicago Sun Times, July 13, 2019, 12:18 p.m., CDT.

11. Givas, Nick. “Pelosi Tells New York Crowd ‘Violation of Status’ Not a Reason to Deport Illegal Immigrants.” Fox News, June 24, 2019.

12. Givas.

13. McLaughlin, Eliott. “ICE Has Begun Raids to Round up Undocumented Immigrants, Official Says.”

14. Sacchetti, Maria. “Trump Administration to Expand Its Power to Deport Undocumented Immigrants.” Washington Post, July 22, 2019, 4:07 p.m.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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