Church Law and Tax 1990-05-01 Recent Developments Immigration Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA •

Church Law and Tax 1990-05-01 Recent Developments


Can churches be forced to comply with the immigration reporting requirements contained in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 against their will? Yes, concluded a federal district court in California. In 1986, Congress enacted a comprehensive immigration reform law requiring all employers (including churches) to verify the identity and employment eligibility of every employee hired on or after June 1, 1987 (the application of the new law to churches was explained fully in the July-August 1987 issue of Church Law & Tax Report). Employers who fail to comply with the new law are subject to various penalties. A Quaker social services agency, supported by more than 100 other religious organizations, challenged the law in court. It claimed that compliance with the law’s requirements would violate its “sincerely held religious beliefs in the sacredness and equality of human life,” and would require it to participate in an immigration program that it believed would “visit hunger and deprivation” upon illegal immigrants. The court summarily rejected these claims. It observed that in determining whether or not a law violates the first amendment’s guaranty of religious freedom, the courts must consider three factors: “(1) the magnitude of the law’s impact upon the exercise of religious beliefs, (2) the existence of a compelling state interest justifying the burden imposed upon the exercise of religious belief, and (3) the extent to which recognition of an exemption from the law would impede the objectives sought to be advanced by the state.” The court readily agreed that the law had a “substantial impact” on the religious organization’s right to freely exercise its religion. However, it insisted that this right was outweighed by the government’s compelling interest in controlling immigration. Further, the court concluded that granting an exemption to religious organizations would not be feasible since it would “reactivate the employment ‘magnet’ which draws illegal aliens to the United States. [The government] notes that over 100 religious organizations [support the position of the Quaker social services agency in this case], and therefore an exemption could have far reaching effects on immigration policy.” American Friends Service Committee v. Thornburgh, 718 F. Supp. 820 (C.D. Cal. 1989).

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

ajax-loader-largecaret-downcloseHamburger Menuicon_amazonApple PodcastsBio Iconicon_cards_grid_caretChild Abuse Reporting Laws by State IconChurchSalary Iconicon_facebookGoogle Podcastsicon_instagramLegal Library IconLegal Library Iconicon_linkedinLock IconMegaphone IconOnline Learning IconPodcast IconRecent Legal Developments IconRecommended Reading IconRSS IconSubmiticon_select-arrowSpotify IconAlaska State MapAlabama State MapArkansas State MapArizona State MapCalifornia State MapColorado State MapConnecticut State MapWashington DC State MapDelaware State MapFederal MapFlorida State MapGeorgia State MapHawaii State MapIowa State MapIdaho State MapIllinois State MapIndiana State MapKansas State MapKentucky State MapLouisiana State MapMassachusetts State MapMaryland State MapMaine State MapMichigan State MapMinnesota State MapMissouri State MapMississippi State MapMontana State MapMulti State MapNorth Carolina State MapNorth Dakota State MapNebraska State MapNew Hampshire State MapNew Jersey State MapNew Mexico IconNevada State MapNew York State MapOhio State MapOklahoma State MapOregon State MapPennsylvania State MapRhode Island State MapSouth Carolina State MapSouth Dakota State MapTennessee State MapTexas State MapUtah State MapVirginia State MapVermont State MapWashington State MapWisconsin State MapWest Virginia State MapWyoming State IconShopping Cart IconTax Calendar Iconicon_twitteryoutubepauseplay