The Selfish Ambition of Our Immigration Debate

Migrants, border states, and sanctuary cities alike are suffering because of our leaders’ spiteful rivalries.

In Galatians, the apostle Paul writes about the “fruit of the Spirit” and the “works of the flesh.” The former is a product of God’s influence in our lives, and the latter are actions that come from humanity’s corrupted and unredeemed disposition (Gal. 5:19–26).

Among the works of the flesh, Paul mentions what the English Standard Version refers to as “rivalries,” which the New International Version calls “selfish ambition” (v. 20). These are quarrels born of self-seeking. They divert our eyes from what’s good and true, shifting our focus toward spiting those who stand in the way of our gaining worldly treasure. Preoccupied with antagonism and winning the argument, we devalue doing what’s right. The fight becomes more important than the solution.

Our country’s immigration policy has long been a casualty of this dynamic, and the partisan rivalries obstructing the pursuit of comprehensive immigration reform exemplify so much of what’s wrong with our politics.

America’s immigration problems on the southwest border are no small matter, involving both a humanitarian crisis for migrants and, on the home front, security and scarcity issues. In 2023, US Border Patrol reported over 2.4 million encounters with migrants on the Mexican border. Texas alone has a backlog of 458,630 immigration cases in its court system.

But migrants keep coming and applying for asylum because they believe the United States offers a better life—and that if they can just get across our border, they’ll be able to stay. Many migrants arriving at the southern border have left their native lands, like Venezuela and Colombia, to escape …

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