Ed West

Border controls are a basic human right - is it un-Christian to oppose mass immigration?

Border controls are a basic human right - is it un-Christian to oppose mass immigration?
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Is it sinful to be not so keen on the whole immigration thing? I suppose Justin Welby thinks so, according to his recent comments.

‘We have to be careful and you can’t over-burden the community, you have to be realistic about that but also we must never – part of the Christian, at the heart of Christian teaching about the human being is all human beings are of absolutely equal and infinite value and the language we use must reflect the value of the human being, and not treat immigration as just a deep menace that is somehow going to overwhelm a country that has coped with many waves of immigration and has usually done so with enormous success and it is part of the strength and brilliance of this country that we are so good at this, and I would hate to see us lose that tradition.’

I wonder what past immigration he’s talking about? The miniscule numbers who trickled in from 1066 to 1945, almost all of them from north-west Europe, which on a chart rather resembles the left hand side of a hockey stick, compared to the numbers that came in after Tony Blair came to power. Our tradition of tolerance stems from the fact that, as an island and a fairly homogenous one at that, we were secure and stable and therefore able to develop liberal institutions.

From 1997 to 2004 almost no one dared say anything about this influx for fear of being shot down; on the BBC archives you can see how even very modest criticism by the Tories - comments that would be pretty vanilla by today’s standards - were presented by the BBC as ‘racism rows’, while government claims about the need for opening the borders were presented as unarguable economic facts. Most people opposed this change, and yet during that period not a single bishop, Anglican or Catholic, had anything to say about this situation, which rather reduces the impact their words might have today.

The Church hierarchy are so pro-immigration partly because the open-borders diversity cult is a Christian heresy. As I wrote in The Diversity Illusion (now in second edition):

‘The moralisation of diversity is reflected in the fact that almost across the board churches in the West are pro-immigration, even though their congregations are not (in the US self-described Christians are more hostile to immigration than non-believers). In a sense secular universalism has grown on and replaced Christianity, which is also universalist and stresses sacrifice for the sake of humanity, although in Christianity altruism is voluntary, and comes with heavenly rewards (and religions have their own out-groups, of non-believers). Because diversity is framed in such morally polar ways, it is very hard to argue against it from a Christian standpoint, and few do. While churches have often spoken on behalf of individual asylum seekers, they have gone further in promoting the diversity agenda. The Catholic Church in England has even put its weight behind asylum amnesties that would have resulted in half a million people being legalised, even though similar schemes in Spain have encouraged further illegal immigration (and resulted in many deaths, of Africans drowned trying to reach Europe).’

It’s easy to quote scripture to support secular universalism; but Christian leaders could also argue that open borders strip the developing world of its brightest (including medical staff), that it widens social inequality, that – contrary to the libertarian argument – people are not simply numbers that can be moved around to increase temporary efficiency, that we have the needs of community and family. Most of all, that there is nothing unchristian or immoral about wanting to live in a neighbourhood that it isn’t totally alien, and to not have one’s labour undercut by the exploitation of desperately poor immigrants. Border controls are a basic human right.

There is one more factor here: both the Anglican and Catholic churches think immigration will save them, immigrants doing the praying natives won't do. Figures released last week showed that Catholicism has only maintained its numbers because of migration; what none of the newspapers mentioned was that religious observance among the children of Christian immigrants drops to the same level as natives as they assimilate. It’s a spiritual ponzi scheme, just as immigration generally is an economic one; the children of eager Third World labourers will not do the dangerous and demeaning work their fathers did, and nor will their children fill the pews of our empty churches. Just as cheap migration allows people to avoid making necessary economic efficiencies, this allows churchmen to avoid doing what they must to survive: evangelise.

The one exception to this secularisation is Islam, a religion that acts as an anchor of identity and which in the second and third generations remains strong, and often stronger, than in the first. Church leaders promoting an immigration policy that strengthens the power of Islam in their country is not Christianity, it’s pathological altruism.