Friday, September 24, 2021

Rules On Religious Workers' Visas Upheld

In Salesian Society, Province of St. Philip the Apostle, Inc. v. Mayorkas, (D DC, Sept. 22, 2021), the D.C. federal district court dismissed a challenge to the requirements to qualify for religious workers' special immigrant visas. At issue is the requirement that the immigrant will be working in a compensated position in the U.S., and that they worked in a compensated position (or provided their own support) for the two years prior to filing for a visa.  Roman Catholic Salesian Brothers take a vow of poverty. Rejecting plaintiffs' 1st Amendment free exercise challenge, the court said in part:

Plaintiffs object to USCIS’s categorization of the support paid on their behalf for living and other expenses as “non-salaried compensation,” asserting that requiring them to provide corroborating evidence that such support is paid on their behalf would cause them to “lie” because, due to their vow of poverty, “[t]he Salesians do not compensate their ministers.” ... But Plaintiffs have not explained how USCIS’s categorization of the support provided to them as “non-salaried compensation” has “put substantial pressure on [them] to modify [their] behavior and to violate [their] beliefs.”

The court also rejected Establishment Clause and RFRA challenges.