Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Amish Request to Stay in U.S. Denied

The Guardian reports on this story:

    "An Amish Canadian fighting a federal law that requires photo identification for people entering the United States cannot stay in the country while his case is heard, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

    Daniel Zehr, a member of the Old Order Amish, claims the law infringes on his religious freedom because his sect takes literally the Bible's prohibition of graven images.


    Zehr, 29, of Ontario, came to the United States in 2001 after marrying an American Amish woman. He was later denied permanent residency because he and his wife refused to submit their photographs.


    Zehr's attorneys contend fingerprints are a better way to confirm identity than photographs, but U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said photos are crucial to Department of Homeland Security officials who do background checks of anyone seeking alien status or citizenship.

    'They can't go out and show people a fingerprint and say, "Do you recognize this fingerprint? What can you tell me about this person?"' Buchanan said."

This seems like a good example of the need for wisdom in jurisprudence. On the one hand, this man clearly has no legal right to reside in the US and therefore cannot be properly said to have had his religious rights violated. The decision to adhere to his religious beliefs over the laws of the land is the right decision but having made such a decision, he must abide by the consequences, which seem to include not becoming a resident of this country.

On the other hand, the guy is Amish for crying out loud. Are we afraid that he might ram his buggy into the World Trade Center? He doesn't seem to be harming anyone by his refusal to be photographed and is probably a good, hardworking member of the community. What state purpose is served by his expulsion, other than adherence to a foolish consistency and an even more foolish egalitarianism?

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