No, Jesus Was Not a Refugee or an Illegal Immigrant

The migrant caravan, like any issue big or small in America today, already has people lined up in their respective firing lines.

One of the volleys being so confidently fired in the direction of the right from the left is that the right should have more sympathy for the migrants because Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were themselves refugees who had to migrate to Egypt to escape their dire situation.


Check and mate, think leftists, who use this point ad nauseam when it comes to the moral issue of taking in refugees from other countries. Surely the right, which consists primarily of Christians, couldn’t turn away thousands who have so much in common with the holiest of families. To deny the illegal immigrants is, somehow, to deny the baby Jesus himself.

This is usually accompanied with some selective verses thrown in to back up their point that God is all about immigration and refugees in the form of Matthew 25: 25-36 and Leviticus 19:33-34.

They ignore Romans 13: 1-7, but that’s the part of the Bible they’d rather throw out, at least until a Democrat comes back into power.

Problem is, the left’s argument that Jesus himself was a migrant falls apart like any other Bible-driven argument used by the left does when you apply research and a little context.

No, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were not refugees. They were hardly migrants.

Matthew: 2:12-14 tells us the story in question. An angel of the Lord came to Joseph and told him to take Mary and dear eight-pound-six-ounce newborn infant Jesus out of Judea and into Egypt in order to escape the murderous clutches of Herod. Joseph obeyed, and rode out into the night with his divinely given charges. It was there they stayed until Herod died.

On the surface, this seems pretty refugee/immigrant like.

However, one thing that goes completely overlooked or ignored is that, at that time, Judea and Egypt (then known as Aegyptus) were all within the borders of the Roman empire. Both countries were occupied land under Ceaser, and even though Herod was King of Judea, he ruled on behalf of Ceasar. Jesus and His family, while provincial citizens, were what we would consider Roman nationals who paid taxes to Rome though they weren’t necessarily citizens of the Roman state. Fleeing to Egypt, then under the personal control of Augustus himself, was on par to moving from New York and into Texas.


While it could be considered migration to move from one state to another, it’s hardly the international journey leftists would like it to be. Jesus and his family were Roman nationals moving from one Roman country to another. They were not aliens in the legal sense, and it was perfectly legal to travel from one Roman province to another. In fact, Egypt had a vibrant Jewish community at the time.

An “immigrant” Jesus was not, at least not in the way the left would have you picture it, with Joseph and Mary banging down the doors of some unjustly constructed wall, pleading for the mercy of a foreign state to allow them into their lands.

With that under our belt, let’s now tackle the “refugee” portion of the argument. Here things get a bit legalistic.

According to the most common definition of what a refugee is, which comes from the UN’s ratified 1967 treaty “Protocol on The Treatment of Refugees,” a refugee is one who, “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”


If you don’t look carefully, that looks pretty cut and dried. Jesus was fleeing persecution from Herod and sought safety in a different territory. Refugee!

But not so fast. The problem the left arrives at here is that a refugee is someone seeking asylum in a country of which they are not a national, as it says in the treaty. Again, Jesus and His family were what we would consider Roman nationals. While they did flee Herod’s hunt, they didn’t flee to a nation outside their own.

Hypothetically, if I were a California resident and one of its leaders marked me for death, causing me to flee to Texas, I wouldn’t be a refugee in any legal sense. I stayed within the United States, just out of the jurisdiction of California leadership. I still pay the same federal taxes and obey the same federal laws. I never left the country of my nationality, and though I did swap states, I didn’t have to apply for asylum, I just moved there. I’m not a refugee hiding out in Canada, I’m an American living in America.

While on the surface, arguments can be made that Joseph and his family were immigrants and refugees, it’d be a shallow definition of the events that transpired, ignoring a lot of the facts. Facts that would fly in the face of arguments being made by the left to make the Holy family seem just like the left’s latest living, breathing talking points. They weren’t.


The left should find a different line of reasoning for their already shallow positions on immigration and stop using bad examples of Christ’s life as a way to get Christians and Republicans to fall in line with whatever Democrats and the left believe that day. It never ends well.

It sure doesn’t when the left tries to claim Jesus was a socialist.



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