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Sorry, President Obama: Scripture Doesn’t Support Amnesty


So President Obama is quoting Scripture to make his case for amnesty. I just knew the separation-of-church-and-state crowd would be up in arms today with shouts of protest—wait, there aren’t any. No scathing posts. No statement from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Oh, right, this is a Democratic president, so it’s okay. His reference to Exodus 22:1 and 23:9 is perfectly acceptable. But like most politicians who pillage the Bible for their own purposes, Obama plucked verses out of context. “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt” is nestled within a list of other commandments—as well as a linguistic and historical framework:

  • “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.” So, all you guys who have sex with a girl you’re not married to—you need to put a ring on it. The Bible says so.
  • “Do not allow the sorceress to live.” Wiccans beware! Obama might be after you next.
  • “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed.” If we adopted this directive, the war with the Islamic State would certainly take an interesting turn. Will Obama be quoting that one at his next national security meeting? Let’s hope not.
  • In Exodus 23, just a few verses above “You shall not oppress a stranger” is “Do not kill the innocent.” Is Obama going to take executive action and overturn Roe v. Wade? Don’t hold your breath.

It would, however, be prudent for anyone cheering Obama’s executive overreach to contemplate that if the president can act because Congress won’t on immigration, he sets a precedent for a future Republican president to do the same. Imagine this: the GOP president in 2017 makes a speech about how the Bible says we shouldn’t kill the innocent, and with a stroke of his pen, he makes abortion illegal. I can just hear the howls of protest then.

Let’s Look at Supposed Biblical Support for Amnesty

So what of this verse, “Do not oppress a stranger”? Let’s take a closer look at it. The Hebrew word for “oppress” in this context is lachats (law-khats’). It means to afflict, squeeze, press, force, hold shut, oppress. The word connotes more than “we need to show hospitality” or even caring for the poor. It’s a strong word, implying disdain and hostility toward the stranger, not caring for his needs at all, not showing him dignity as a human being.

The passage makes a comparison to the Jews in Egypt. Egyptian oppression wasn’t just that the Jews weren’t taken care of. They were oppressed, pressed down, enslaved. They had to make bricks from straw, and they were beaten. Is this what American citizens are doing to illegal immigrants? Are we oppressing them? Obama basically accused us of being cruel and selfish—he called us oppressors, in the same way that Egyptians were oppressors to the Israelites. Are we? No, not at all. Quite the contrary.

Americans Lavish Care on Illegal Immigrants

Just look at what benefits illegal immigrants can get, as outlined, for example, by The Children’s Aid Society in New York. In their brochure, “Know Your Rights,” they inform people who come here illegally of all the benefits open to them—and how they can get them even when they don’t exactly qualify. “Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for public assistance but may receive other benefits and services necessary for health and survival. Below is a list of resources for low-income undocumented immigrant families.”

  • Emergency Medicaid: Persons who cannot pay or have no insurance (regardless of immigration status) can be treated for emergency conditions at public hospitals free of charge; they will have to fill out paperwork so that the hospital can be reimbursed by the government.
  • HHC Plus: All financially eligible undocumented adults can obtain discounted medical care, including prescriptions and mental health treatment, through the Health and Hospitals Corporation.
  • Medicaid/Prenatal Care Assistance Program (PCAP): Public health insurance and prenatal health insurance are available to all financially eligible pregnant women without regard to immigration status.
  • Child Health Plus (CHP): State health insurance is available to financially eligible children regardless of immigration status.
  • Food Stamps: While undocumented immigrants are not eligible, other people in the family, including children who are born citizens, may receive this benefit.
  • School Breakfast and Lunch Program: Free or reduced-price meals are provided to students at public and participating private schools.
  • Public housing: In general, only legal immigrants are eligible. In the case of mixed families, the family may still qualify for public housing but the amount of the family’s housing subsidy will be reduced accordingly for those who decline to submit their documentary evidence. New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) requires all tenants to verify citizenship or immigration status, but family members can avoid disclosure by “electing not to contend.”
  • Employment benefits: Workers Compensation provides weekly cash payments and covers the cost of medical treatment, including rehabilitation, for covered employees who become disabled as a result of injury (or disease) connected with their employment. It also provides payments for qualified dependents of a worker who dies from an injury or illness. The New York State Attorney General’s Office advises that Workers Compensation benefits are available to anyone who worked including those paid in cash, paid off the books, paid as independent contractors or otherwise not reported to the government as an employee. Immigration status is irrelevant.
  • Domestic violence: Undocumented immigrants who have been abused or whose children have been abused by their U.S. citizen or lawfully permanent resident status partner may be eligible for public benefits and for “green card” status.

Not exactly oppression, would you say?

We’re Admitting More Government Dependents

But—supporters of Obama’s amnesty would counter—now illegal immigrants will pay their fair share by contributing through taxes. This isn’t exactly true. According to Forbes, most immigrants won’t pay net income taxes.

On Thursday evening, President Obama unveiled his plan to offer legal status to approximately 5 million undocumented aliens. ‘If you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes,’ said Obama, ‘you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country.’ But the President neglected to mention that the income of the typical illegal immigrant is so low that he would pay no net income taxes, and become eligible for welfare benefits like Obamacare. According to a 2006 report from the left-leaning Century Foundation, ‘it is likely that the undocumented workers will end up receiving rather than paying the Treasury money.’

Despite 56 percent of American voters who think the U.S. government is not aggressive enough in deporting those who are in this country illegally, Obama declares amnesty for five million illegal immigrants—and opening the floodgates for more to come through chain immigration. On top of that, he preaches to us from Scripture as if he’s a pontiff, condemning anyone who opposes his plan as being oppressive and uncaring, even cruel. Americans are a compassionate people. We have always been a compassionate people. But we are a people bound together through laws—laws made, not by the despotic decree of a president who quotes religious texts, but by Congress, representing the will of the people. If Obama is going to turn to Scripture for guidance, maybe he should turn to Proverbs 11:14: “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.”