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Title: A theological response to the "illegal alien" in federal United States law
Author: Heimburger, Robert Whitaker
ISNI:       0000 0004 4545 0611
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Today, some twelve million immigrants are unlawfully present in the United States. What response to this situation does Christian theology suggest for these immigrants and those who receive them? To this question about the status of immigrants before the law, the theological literature lacks an understanding of how federal U.S. immigration law developed, and it lacks a robust theological account of the governance of immigration. To fill this gap, the thesis presents three stages in the formation of the laws that designate some immigrants as aliens unlawfully present or illegal aliens, drawing out the moral argumentation in each phase and responding with moral theology. In the first stage, non-citizens were called aliens in U.S. law. In response to the argument that aliens exist as a consequence of natural law, Christian teaching indicates that immigrants are not alien either in creation or for the church. In the second stage, the authority of the federal government to exclude and expel aliens was established, leaving those who do not comply to be designated illegal aliens. To the claim that the federal government has unlimited sovereignty over immigration, interpretations of the Christian Scriptures respond that divine sovereignty limits and directs civil authority over immigration. In the third stage, legal reforms that were intended to end discrimination between countries allowed millions from countries neighboring the U.S. to become illegal aliens. These reforms turn out to be unjust on philosophical grounds and unneighborly on theological grounds. While federal law classes many as aliens unlawfully present in the United States, Christian political theology indicates that immigrants are not alien, the government of immigration is limited by divine judgment, and nationals of neighboring countries deserve special regard.
Supervisor: Biggar, Nigel J. Sponsor: Las Casas Institute ; Sir Halley Stewart Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Theology and Religion ; American politics ; Migration ; Law ; Ethics and philosophy of law ; Public policy ; illegal immigration ; aliens ; migrants ; nationhood ; Karl Barth ; 1 Corinthians ; legal history ; common law ; Edward Coke ; territory ; sovereignty ; 1880's Chinese immigration ; Mexico-US migration ; Martin Luther ; Book of Genesis ; Book of Psalms ; deuteronomy ; international relations ; Aristotle ; Hugo Grotius ; Gospel of Luke ; Christian ethics ; moral theology ; Thomas Hobbes ; Emer de Vattel ; William Blackstone ; political theology ; political theory ; corrective justice ; distributive justice ; attributive justice