Paula White, who serves as a spiritual adviser to President Donald Trump, said Jesus Christ never broke immigration laws, and if he had, he would not be fit for the title of “Messiah,” according to The Hill.
What did she say?
White made the comments during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, during which she was discussing her recent visit to an immigrant detention center in Virginia. She was asked whether her visit brought to mind any biblical scripture. Her answer:
“I think so many people have taken biblical scriptures out of context on this, to say stuff like, ‘Well, Jesus was a refugee,'” White said in the interview. “And yes, he did live in Egypt for three and a half years. But it was not illegal. If he had broken the law then he would have been sinful and he would not have been our Messiah.”
What is she talking about?
Those who support more lenient immigration laws have a habit of trying to use the biblical account of Mary and Joseph taking their baby, Jesus, to Egypt to escape persecution by King Herod in Bethlehem to support their opinions on the issue.
They like to say that Jesus himself was an illegal immigrant, using that to attack those on the religious right who advocate for strict border and immigration policies.
That’s the idea White is apparently addressing in the CBN interview, although she takes it a bit further than most by adding theological implications about how Jesus’s immigration status would impact his standing as the object of the Christian faith.
Is this a useful comparison?
It is not helpful for either side of the immigration to draw comparisons between U.S. immigration law and Jesus’ refugee status, considering how vastly different the situations and time periods are.
White is, however, technically correct in her assessment of the legality of Jesus’ travels. The baby Jesus’ journey fell within the scope of the Roman Empire, so there was no border patrol and no documentation that Mary and Joseph would have had to show to cross into Egypt.
So, the question of Jesus’s immigration status is probably not worth considering as a way of determining the validity of U.S. immigration policy.