Friday, January 27, 2017
A few days ago, Notre Dame's Center on Civil and Human Rights convened a panel discussion on immigration and sanctuary. I participated, and talked about the religious-freedom dimension of the issue. The video is here, if you are interested. (My remarks start at about 40:00.)
Among other things, I talked about an Alabama case in which the state's Catholic bishops (and others) filed a lawsuit challenging, on religious-freedom grounds, a law that purported to forbid anyone to assist or harbor unlawful immigrants. (More here on the bishops' criticisms.)
In some quarters, the Catholic bishops' religious-freedom advocacy has been (unfairly and inaccurately, in my view) criticized as partisan or as excessively focused on a few "culture wars" issues. (The same criticisms, increasingly, are directed at religious-freedom laws generally). In fact, the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Freedom, like the Alabama bishops, criticized Alabama's law just as it did the contraception-coverage mandate.
I'm wondering, relatedly, whether this particular provision of the President's recent executive order on immigration similarly imposes, or could impose, an unlawful burden on religious exercise:
Sec. 6. Civil Fines and Penalties. As soon as practicable, and by no later than one year after the date of this order, the Secretary shall issue guidance and promulgate regulations, where required by law, to ensure the assessment and collection of all fines and penalties that the Secretary is authorized under the law to assess and collect from aliens unlawfully present in the United States and from those who facilitate their presence in the United States.
It depends, I suppose, on how "facilitate" is interpreted. Still, something for those of us who care about religious freedom (as we all should) to keep an eye on.