Every once in a while an issue that’s a big deal in Washington, D.C., becomes a big deal all around the nation and even around the world. This is the case with immigration.

People are asking the question of how to do a wise, faithful, and effective immigration policy, not only in the southern border of the United States, but all-around Europe. I’m not a lawyer and I’m not an immigration specialist, but I do think that there are some basic biblical principles that Christians should keep in mind as they’re considering this issue.

The one, obviously, is one that’s threaded throughout the whole scripture: The Mosaic covenant. Moses says that, “You need to be mindful of those in your midst, including those who are from other countries, the sojourners. Be mindful of those who have no family structure to support them, the orphans and the widows.”

People on the borders of our nation need to be treated with dignity and honor.

Moses was very clear about that, as were the prophets, as was Jesus Christ himself, that we are to be especially mindful of the poor and the disenfranchised in our midst. As a matter of fact, Jesus even says that, “It’s in this way that I come to you. This is the way that the kingdom comes to you in this world. It will be through those who do not have clothes and do not have food and do not have shelter.”

As we find people on the borders of our nation, I think we do need to be mindful of that value that they need to be treated with dignity, that they need to be treated with honor. Even as a nation that has quite a bit of resources at its expense, we need to think about how we can help them in the situation in which they find themselves. Just like we found it of use to go to war over the way that people have been treated in the past in other nations, we need to recognize that this, too, is a humanitarian crisis that might require special and extraordinary policies in the United States.

With that said, I think we also need to remember that the primary job of a government is to protect its citizenry. There is no nation without borders. Like it or not, that’s the reality of this pre-second-coming-of-Christ world. When we talk about a nation, a nation exists because in many ways it has borders, and so the borders need to be honored and respected. The question for our legislators, the question for the people who are living in the border communities is: how do we do that while also being true, particularly as Christians, to the notion of universal human rights, the dignity that’s placed on all of humanity, even non-Americans even, non-EU citizens?

Because they have the image of God placed on them, how do we think about these realities of the border in light of the dignity that the image of God means for all humanity?