Today's Yesterday's Top Five
(Sorry for the delay in the posting. We'll try to post Wednesday stories by early this afternoon.)
1. Report: More than a third of religious worker visas fraudulent
Remember when the U.S. government banned Finnish theologian Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen from returning to his post at Fuller Seminary and revoked his "special immigrant religious worker" visa? Those visas might be a lot harder to come by very soon. The Boston Globe reports that the Department of Homeland Security
found numerous instances in which groups in the United States falsely claimed to be churches, and visa applicants lied about their religious vocations in order to get into the country. More than a third of the visas examined by investigators were based on fraudulent information. The probe found a particularly high fraud rate among applicants from countries the government deemed to pose a security risk, such as Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq, the report found. There were 11 applications for people from special-risk countries among the 220 petitions that were auditedand 8 of those 11 were fraudulent, it said.
Catholics quoted in the story are worried that curtailing or reforming the visa system could add even more hurdles for the church's bringing in foreign priests to fill many vacant pulpits. But Stewart Baker, assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, told the Globe that at the very least, the department needs to step up investigations.
"There is way too much fraud in this program," he told the Globe. "One of the things we need to do is go there more often and actually check that it is a real institution, because unfortunately one form of fraud is to say 'I have a storefront ...1