Friday, July 13, 2007

As a former beneficiary of this program ...

... I share the concerns about the proposed revamping of the religious worker visa program. I haven't read the new proposed regulations, but even the way the old ones were phrased, it was clear there was a clear bias to Judeo-Christian understandings of religious professions. I don't think that's acceptable in a pluralistic democracy. Yes, there are legitimate concerns about fraud and I'm sure there are ways to address this without resorting to very narrow definitions of religious work.

And if the USCIS is now talking about site visits -- a proposal that looks good on paper -- then God help us! It's such an inefficient and understaffed organization, I can only imagine the kinds of chaos and mismanagement this would result in.

All this attention for 11000 work visas that are given out each year? That's a tiny fraction of the total number of US visas (non-immigrant as well as immigrant) that are given out each year.

I'm not condoning fraud. I just think given the actual conditions under which the USCIS operates, this has the potential to be disastrous for religious communities of all stripes.

And for those Catholics who are instinctively (or even critically) anti-immigration -- do remember that all those foreign priests and religious that now staff so many parishes across the land use this program.

1 comment:

Mac said...

"It was clear there was a clear bias to Judeo-Christian understandings of religious professions." Really? How so? Not here in Oz, certainly, and the immigrant and refugee legal advice clinic I volunteer in has had visits now twice from the mullah who is here under the corresponding rubric and as to whom my Muslim friends make sure to go to Friday prayers at the mosque 20 minutes late to avoid the harangue in his sermon against socialising with the infidel and corrupting their Islamic purity. He is a Syrian and in fact Syria is a fairly tolerant place as to its substantial Christian minority; one may reasonably assume that such sentiments are even more likely from a Pakistani or an Egyptian. Whatever lunatic in the Deptartment of Migration let him in? Probably there was no individual discretion involved at all: he fit the definition so in he came. Possibly the fact that his wife wears a burqa and he's been squawking ever since about the fact that he can't go home and get a second one might have twigged a real live immigration officer to think that perhaps this wasn't precisely the sort of immigrant that would do the country a great deal of good.