WASHINGTON (September 6, 2000) -- Representatives of nine religious organizations today cautioned that a failure
to legislate a permanent extension of the Religious Worker Visa Program would be a disservice
to religious communities across the country.
"Although admissions into the United States under the non-minister special immigrant religous worker visa provisions are small -- no more than 5,000 visas are available each year -- the need for these workers is great," the representatives said in a letter to Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The letter was signed by: Mark Franken, Executive Director, U.S. Catholic Conference's Migration and Refugee Services; Abba Cohen, Director and Counsel, Washington office of Agudath Israel of America; LaMar Sleight, Director of the International and Governmental Affairs office, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Walter Carson, Associate General Counsel, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; Ralston Deffenbaugh, President, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service; Sister Mary Mollison, President, Leadership Conference of Women Relgious; and Brother Stephen Glodek, President, Conference of Major Superiors of Men; Melissa Rogers, General Counsel, Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs; Mark Pelavin, Associate Director, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism.
The letter urges Representatives to support legislation which would extend the non- Minister Religious Worker Visa Program permanently. Without congressional action, the program will expire this fall.
In 1990, Congress recognized the special needs of religious denominations and their organizations in establishing the special visa program on a temporary basis. It has been renewed twice, and the U.S. Catholic Conference, the public policy agency of the Catholic Bishops in the United States, has repeatedly urged making the program permanent.
"Failure to extend it permanently would substantially undermine the services that religious denominations and organizations in the United States provide to their members and communities ...."