Images of modern refugees often invoke images of the infant Christ and the historical circumstances of the holy family's flight to Egypt in the face of persecution. But rather than leaving this association at the merely symbolic level, Jesus the Refugee explores Jesus's flight through modern legal conventions on refugee status in the United States and the European Union. Would Jesus and his parents be protected from refoulement? Would they receive rights to employment and civic engagement? Would they be turned away? Is the holy family a refugee family?
Jesus the Refugee argues that the holy family has a limited set of legal options for protection, but under current law is unlikely to receive any. This shocking claim stands or falls on legal details like the ability to demonstrate reasonable fear of persecution, or whether fleeing Palestine (but not the Roman Empire) affords protection for internally displaced migrants.
Besides introducing the basics of modern refugee law and processes, Jesus the Refugee aims to raise ethical challenges to our current refugee system by highlighting Jesus as one of the "least of these," indicting our moral failures and challenging us to make amends.