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Federal judge orders revision of religious worker immigration policy

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] Monday ordered [order, PDF] the revision of a US government regulation [8 CFR § 245.2(a)(2)(i)(B) text] that singles out religious workers applying for permanent residency. Judge Robert Lasnik issued the order in a class action lawsuit [case materials] brought by workers who argued that waiting for the approval of an employer petition, a requirement for religious workers only, frequently resulted in the expiration of their temporary visas before they could apply for permanent residency. The government had argued that the rule was justified by a historically high rate of fraud by religious workers, but Lasnik held that imposing the requirement was beyond the attorney general's authority, under which the regulations are made:

The Attorney General does not have discretion to choose who is eligible to apply for adjustment of status (that determination having been made by Congress), to interpret the same statutory provision in different ways depending on the classification of the applicant, or to waive a statutory requirement. Defendants may not, therefore, reject or refuse to accept plaintiffs’ applications for adjustment of status based on the regulation barring religious workers from concurrent filing.
The immigration enforcement tactics of the Bush administration have long been criticized [JURIST report] for being overly-aggressive and ineffective, and in February, US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano [official profile] called for a review [JURIST report] of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] workplace immigration raid that resulted in the arrest of 28 workers. President Barack Obama [official profile] has said he remains committed to "comprehensive immigration reform," [AP report] even though the issue has not been prominent early in his term.

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