The Chaos of a Borderless World | Tomorrow’s World — March/April 2024

The Chaos of a Borderless World

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While mass immigration tears at the fabric of Western civilization, Scripture reveals our Creator’s vision of how humanity should live upon the earth.

Immigration—illegal or irregular immigration, in particular—is tearing at the fabric of Western civilization. Caught between a sense of compassion for the vulnerable and a desire to preserve national stability, the United States and many European nations are facing an almost unprecedented challenge as migrants stream across their borders.

The situation is far more than a mere political or policy-making challenge. In some ways, the waves of migration have the nature of invasions—destabilizing the destination countries, overwhelming government resources, and widening the deep fissures that decades of societal polarization have created. For the West, the challenge of migration has become a crisis in every sense of the word.

Yet, for others, the migration crisis is also an opportunity. Opportunists and cynics see a chance to forcefully advance a long-held vision of a world without borders, and many would like to use the current crises to reshape the world according to their own designs. But would the fulfillment of such a vision usher in a utopian dream or a dystopian nightmare?

The only way to fully understand the migration crisis and its solution is not to view it through the lenses of political pragmatism, economic and demographic dynamics, cultural conflict, or even humanitarian compassion. We must consider the intentions, designs, and desires of the One who created humanity in the first place—the One who will soon make His voice heard in every nation on earth. Why are borders being challenged and crossed, and what does this mean for those on each side of those borders?

Illegal Immigrants: An Entire Nation Within a Nation?

As reported on January 23 by The Hill, “The number of illegal immigrants in the country has roughly doubled under President Biden. The United States had some 10.2 million illegal immigrants in 2020, and another 10 million have entered during Biden’s presidency. If the 20 million illegal immigrants were all in one state, it would be tied with New York for the fourth most populated state.”

Actually, 20 million people means that the total prospective population of illegal immigrants can represent a “nation” within the U.S. that, by itself, is larger than nearly three-quarters of the individual nations and dependent territories of the world. Imagine the entire population of Ecuador (18.2 million), Somalia (18.1 million), or Kazakhstan (19.6 million) illegally immigrating into the United States. How would such a massive influx of people change the nation? Shift its values? Alter its culture? Rearrange its politics?

Now imagine that influx continuing, virtually unabated, and the comparisons to an invasion begin to sound more reasonable.

In his fight against what even many Democratic politicians, such as Senator John Fetterman, consider loose-to-nonexistent border management by the Biden administration, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared the 6 million immigrants who illegally crossed the southern border in the last three years just that: an invasion.

Seeking to stem the tide of immigrants illegally swimming across the Rio Grande into Texas, Governor Abbott had new barriers and razor wire installed along the border with Mexico. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Biden administration’s authority to remove those obstacles, but Abbott—in apparent defiance of the federal government—told Texas law enforcement agencies and the National Guard to continue adding barriers. The day after Governor Abbott issued a letter explaining his objections to the Supreme Court ruling, 25 Republican governors signed a letter supporting Abbott’s actions. As one observer noted, that step could provoke the greatest American Constitutional crisis since the American Civil War.

“A Weapon… to Destabilize Our Society”

The situation in Europe is no better—and is arguably worse. For example, until recently, Sweden had been known as one of the ten safest nations on earth, despite having some of the most generous asylum regulations in all of Europe. But now?

The Financial Times summarized the nation’s situation in a report last November: “The Nordic country has gone from having one of the lowest levels of fatal shootings in Europe to one of the highest in just a decade. Well-established criminal gangs, largely run by second-generation immigrants, are no longer just killing each other but increasingly relatives and… innocent bystanders. Many of the perpetrators are children as young as 14 who are groomed by gangs to carry out hits.”

In Sweden, deaths by assault with a firearm now occur at a rate 80 percent higher than Croatia’s. And there is growing evidence that immigrant-powered criminal networks “have infiltrated some public services, political parties and even the criminal justice system.” Richard Jomshof, a member of the Swedish parliament, was blunt: “If this continues for the next two decades, Sweden is lost.”

Speaking with the Telegraph in December 2023, Poland’s former prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, “Yes, I do believe that illegal migrants represent threats to European peace, to European security, and in the longer distance, in the longer term, also to European civilization.” In particular, he highlights the “huge [numbers of] Muslim migrants from the Middle East who are coming to Germany and France and other countries and who want to change the culture of those countries, those nations.”

Italy has borne the brunt of what has seemed to be out-of-control immigration from North Africa, causing frustrations that helped put Italy’s current Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, into office.

From Italy, migrants often seek to enter France and then travel to other parts of Europe. But France has pushed back, seeking to reestablish border controls reminiscent of the days before the European Union, restricting the free movement that has become a hallmark of modern European life. Like her counterparts in France, Ms. Meloni has warned that the EU is at risk of being overwhelmed by the growing tsunami of human beings entering the continent.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak agrees. In December 2023, joining Ms. Meloni in speaking to a gathering of right-wing Italian politicians in Rome, Mr. Sunak spoke of the migrant crisis facing the West, and the criminal organizations that take advantage of it for their own profit:

Criminal gangs will find ever cheaper ways to ply their evil trade. They will exploit our humanity, and they think nothing of putting people’s lives at risk when they put them in these boats at sea. And our enemies will also see that we are unable to deal with this and they will increasingly use migration as a weapon, deliberately driving people to our shores to try to destabilize our society. If we do not tackle this problem, the numbers will only grow. It will overwhelm our countries and our capacity to help those who actually need our help the most.

Reasons for Immigration, Refugees, and Seeking Asylum

Mr. Sunak’s words reflect the compassionate sentiment that has often characterized the West’s response to suffering populations—a sentiment that recognizes that, while the waves of immigrants might form a virtual invasion, they do not form a literal one. However unprecedented the current situation, the suffering and hardship behind it is as old as humanity.

There are varied reasons why people take up the challenge of uprooting themselves from the land of their people to replant themselves far, far away in a new and very different land. Some are forced away by warfare, violence, and persecution. The United Nations reported in October 2023 that more than 114 million people had been displaced from their homes by such violence. Conflict in Myanmar has led to the growth of one of the world’s largest refugee camps—the Kutupalong-Balukahli camp in Bangladesh, housing 700,000 refugees fleeing the persecution they face in their homeland.

Disasters, too, have always played a role. Just as famine drove the ancient patriarch Abram and his household to dwell for a time in the land of Egypt (Genesis 12:10), environmental and ecological disasters today continue to drive populations to seek safety and security. It is now fashionable for some to turn such disasters into arguments against “climate change,” but regardless of the cause, natural disasters provide real pressure on people to relocate. The merciless forces of nature have driven human migration for millennia.

Some leave their homelands desperately seeking a future for their families and an escape from the poverty of their broken nations, often ruled by governments that waste their people’s wealth on delusional economic models, or by corrupt officials more interested in feeding their bank accounts than the starving children within their borders. Facing intolerable living conditions, desperate and hurting people make what may be the hardest decision of their lives: to pack up all they can carry and begin walking. The hardships they face traveling to unknown lands can be terrifying, but compared to the hardships they face in their native lands, they are considered worth the risk, whether that risk involves hiking across deserts that span the southern U.S. or sailing across Mediterranean waters that separate North Africa from Europe. Any dangers of the journey are far outweighed by the hope of a better life.

Sadly, some travel to new lands for more sinister purposes, hoping to escape the consequences of crimes committed or to find new venues for criminal enterprise. In the U.S., for instance, among the illegal immigrants caught in fiscal year 2023 were 736 known or suspected terrorists—a record high. And the market for illegal drugs such as fentanyl drives many across the border to seek addiction-based profits.

Whether due to disasters of nature or of the manmade variety, our world is one filled with pain. And, for many, the chance to be free of that pain is worth undertaking dangerous journeys across rivers, through deserts, over mountains, and across stormy seas in barely seaworthy boats.

An Opportunity for Villains and “Visionaries”

Where there is human misery, there is often opportunity. Desperation to cross international borders has been a boon to smugglers and criminal cartels caring only for the money they can gain by exploiting desperate migrants. In testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives, agents serving along the nation’s southern border made plain the fact that cartels in Mexico have absolute control over that border, requiring migrants to pay outrageous sums for their help—and punishing with beatings and even executions those who attempt to cross without paying them for the “privilege.”

And politicians know an opportunity when they see it. A frustrated electorate is an electorate looking for change, and many governments in the West have changed hands primarily over concerns about immigration. Some parties see anger over immigration as a key to gaining votes for larger agendas. Others see new immigrants themselves, legal or illegal, as more voters they can use to sustain their own power.

Some seek to downplay immigration as an issue, acknowledging the new crises but preferring to portray them as the result of economic inequity rather than a clash of conflicting cultures and values. And there are others who go a step further, who see the current moment as an opportunity to reshape our world in the most fundamental of ways. In the eyes of such “visionaries,” mass migration and refugee camps are not simply reflections of economic hardship, natural disasters, or violence, but are signs that the existence of borders themselves is a problem. The current migration crises, to them, present an opportunity to advocate their dream of a borderless utopia as an idea whose time has come. The motivations inspiring those who promote this fantasy vary from dreamer to dreamer, but their influence on policy, politics, and culture is very real.

It may seem surprising that many now argue on capitalistic grounds for the opening—even the near-elimination—of borders. Billionaire Charles Koch supports more open borders on such grounds, and uses his foundation to press for immigration reform to bring more laborers into the U.S. Some go even further and argue that there should be almost no restrictions at all. Economist Bryan Caplan of George Mason University suggests that throwing borders open as much as possible, thus maximizing the free movement of people, would generate a 50 to 150 percent increase in global productive output by recovering worker potential now wasted in unproductive nations.

Others, ironically, argue in favor of open borders as an attack on capitalism. Writing for The Nation in May 2021, columnist Todd Miller titled his article “Visions of a Borderless World,” painting a picture of borders as serving only to help the wealthy and powerful while keeping the poor and oppressed under control. Writing in March 2021 for Columbia Law School’s “Abolition 13/13” social justice project, lawyer Anita Yandle declares, “Borders are a violent extension of the carceral, imperialist state.” Worried that her calls for “global justice” will seem anti-open-borders, Yandle explains, “This is not to argue against open borders; instead, open borders are a step on the way to abolishing borders (and indeed, the states that control them).”

Yes, abolishing states, themselves. Yandle leaves no room at all for doubt in her position: “Open borders will alleviate many issues and save numerous lives, but abolishing them through abolishing even having countries is the solution to the violence borders create.”

It may be tempting to dismiss such sentiments as ideas of fringe legal scholars, but the cultural and classical Marxist philosophies at the root of these ideas have long ago escaped the confines of academia and are now shaping policies—and, thus, the societies that live by them. Miller and Yandle are canaries in the coal mine. Many of society’s most educated people view clearly defined and defended national borders as racist and xenophobic at best, and as a tool of oppression and human rights violations at worst. In the minds of those with such “visions,” the radical opening of borders, perhaps even abolishing them altogether, won’t be a doubling down on the chaos we see growing in our nations—instead, a borderless world is the ultimate key to a just, vibrant, and fair global civilization in which human potential is finally unlocked.

One World, No Boundary: A Very Ancient Idea

Visions of a world without borders are not new at all. In fact, they are almost as old as humanity itself. Millennia ago, in the plains of the ancient land of Shinar, mankind sought to create a borderless world—one people and one nation, without boundaries. We read of this attempt, the infamous Tower of Babel, in Genesis 11: “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech…. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth’” (vv. 1–4).

Instead of families spreading out and establishing new nations in different places of the earth, the people sought to remain one “name” and refused to be “scattered.”

But what does God seek? Politicians, policymakers, academics, and intellectuals all offer their solutions, but who among them is seeking the guidance of the One who created humanity? Who is asking for advice from the One who truly understands the way to peace, fulfillment, and human flourishing? No matter how wise our own solutions and philosophies appear in our eyes, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

God’s View of Nations and Borders

Our Creator’s vision of how humanity should live upon the earth—and the way Jesus Christ will govern this world upon His return—is made plain in the inspired pages of Scripture. The Bible shows clearly that God seeks the distinction of families across the earth.

In Scripture, nations are depicted as, essentially, families grown large, defined by extended familial connection rather than political ideas and governments—hence mention of “the family of Egypt” among the “families of the earth” during the future Millennial reign of the Messiah (Zechariah 14:17–18). And, so, too, the talk of borders in that Millennial reign (Isaiah 19:19). God’s word states plainly that “the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:8). Yes, God set boundaries—and not just for the people of ancient Israel, as the Apostle Paul explained: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings” (Acts 17:26).

Paul’s short statement highlights that all people—of every race, ethnicity, and nationality—are united as descendants of Adam and Eve, and that God Himself chose to set boundaries to define the dwelling places of the nations that would descend from those common ancestors.

Since the God of the Bible is clearly a God of boundaries and borders, any vision of a borderless world is ultimately contrary to how He desires His world to work. He made this plain enough at Babel. There, humanity sought to thumb its nose at the Creator—sought not to build separate new nations and seek out new dwelling places in the post-Flood world as their families grew large. Rather, the masses at Babel sought to defy God’s plan and to stay in one place as one people, one nation.

And their defiance did not go well—in the end, defying God never does. Language is one of the most fundamental unifying elements of any people, so God famously confused the peoples’ languages so they could no longer communicate with each other (Genesis 11:7). “So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth” (v. 8), forcing them to do as He had wanted from the beginning.

Our Father in Heaven is consistent. His desires do not change (Malachi 3:6), the opinion of Jesus Christ does not change (Hebrews 13:8), and we can expect that the world They will begin rebuilding upon Christ’s return will be just as They wanted the ancient world to be, as we see in the Millennial descriptions of Jesus’ reign: a world of borders and families grown into nations.

The True Desire of All Nations: The Return of Jesus Christ

No world problems can be solved in ignorance of God’s laws and desires. No actions taken contrary to His will can ever produce happiness, peace, and safety in the long run. Fanatics may sincerely believe in their fantasy that a borderless world is the ultimate key to human flourishing, but God pronounces on them and their ideas the same verdict He pronounced at the Tower of Babel.

But what then is the alternative to the chaos offered by a borderless world? How can millions of suffering people be helped without draining the resources of their host countries or inciting conflict as fundamentally different cultures chafe against one another in close quarters?

On the small scale, the Bible provides guidance for our attitudes and the orientations of our hearts. We see that the God of ancient Israel encouraged compassion for foreigners in need, commanding His people, “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21; cf. Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:34; Deuteronomy 10:19). In the New Testament, Christ inspired the Apostle Paul to teach that we should seek to “do good to all” when we have opportunity to do so, though our own families and those of the “household of faith” have a prior claim on our support (Galatians 6:10; 1 Timothy 5:8).

On the large scale, however, we must admit the facts: In this world, unless there is worldwide repentance and submission to the rule of Jesus Christ, there can be no real and permanent solution to the migrant crisis. Suffering will continue as man mismanages his resources, goes to war against his neighbor, and suffers the effects of his choice to kick God out of his affairs. Supplies will remain limited as man ekes out a living from the soil while denying himself the blessings that come from obeying his Creator. And the Israelite-descended nations in particular, including the U.S. and Great Britain, will increasingly feel the consequences they are prophesied to experience as they reject the God of the Bible—including the consequences recorded in Deuteronomy 28:43: “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.”

In a way, every migrant’s cry for mercy, help, and justice is—whether he knows it or not—a cry for the return of Jesus Christ and for Him to establish His kingdom of peace and abundance. He truly is “the Desire of All Nations” (Haggai 2:7).


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