Trump has said that the Bible is his favorite book, so it’s worth asking: What could Trump learn about immigrants if he opened up his beloved Bible?
The book of Exodus admonishes us: “You shall not oppress a stranger (ger), for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). By ger, commonly translated from Hebrew as “stranger” or “sojourner,” the Bible refers to an immigrant who is an outsider in the place where he now lives — a resident who has no family or clan to look after him, and who is therefore vulnerable to social and economic exploitation. The text appeals to the Israelites’ memory to intensify their moral obligation. Having tasted the suffering and degradation to which vulnerability can lead, the people are bidden not to afflict or mistreat the stranger. The Bible’s charge is based on an urgent demand for empathy — since you know what it feels like to be a stranger, you must never abuse the stranger.