The Words of the Moran Family
With the advice of expert immigration attorneys, Marty Moran has been handling problems that international members have had with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service over the past two years.
In 1973 several hundred members from Europe and Japan came to the United States to participate in our movement's activities here. Our family was ignorant of immigration laws, but genuinely wanted to bring members over to be trained and to participate in church activities. After a few incidents with the Immigration Service, our church asked the Service's advice on how to help our members stay here. It was suggested that our members all apply for an "H" visa, which is a non-immigrant visa given to people coming to America for the purpose of training.
However, while Immigration officials were considering these applications, they received numerous reports of our members being picked up for "soliciting" in various parts of the country. Immigration offices throughout the country began to coordinate the information on our members and to view the training program as a device for getting members into the country just to solicit funds for the church.
In fact, our church had submitted to Immigration a very realistic and well-conceived two-year program which included classroom and field work. International members were attending training at Belvedere and were then assigned to IOWC teams. Coming to America offered the freedom to witness openly to a wide variety of people as well as the opportunity to hear Father speak directly. Nevertheless, Immigration officials decided to believe that our members were here only to raise funds.
After the denial of the training visas, our church appealed to the District Court and won, because Immigration had not allowed us to examine and rebut the evidence against us. Thus the case was returned for review to the District Director. We discovered the Immigration had collected an enormous amount of material, but since we did not know how they were going to use it, we could not determine how to make a rebuttal. As a result, in 1974, visas were denied finally to almost all the applicants.
Over the following two years, the church made various appeals, each of which was denied. Ultimately we carried the case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can hear only a limited number of cases each session and has to select those which most need clarification. Our appeal was not selected and could not be heard. Left without further legal recourse, our members faced deportation.
At that time, a visa classification was discovered for religious workers who devote at least 50 percent of their time to a non-profit religious organization of which they have been a member for at least two years. Based on the condition that the yearly quota for this classification had not yet been filled, our members could apply. Therefore, we submitted applications for such "6th preference" visas, as they are called.
In one instance, a member was denied a 6th preference visa by the acting Commissioner of the Immigration Service on the grounds that the Unification Church is not a church. We do not fit their criteria for a church, they stated, since we do not have baptisms, confirmations, funerals, ordinations, etc. Recently we filed a suit challenging this decision, claiming that the Immigration Service is denying our freedom to worship and further that it does not have the authority to determine what is or is not a church. Of course, Immigration does not claim to be setting new guidelines, only following precedent. However, the result of our appeal will probably be used as a precedent.
I feel that we are now inheriting the victory of Father's 21-year course and that the way is now open to make tremendous advancement in areas such as immigration. It is very unusual for the Immigration Service to state that a church is not a church, and I feel we should be able to win the appeal.
In general, when couples apply for permanent residence based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, the Immigration Service interviews them to screen out fraudulent marriages. When Immigration officials discover that a Unification Church couple is not living together, they tend to become suspicious and wonder about the purpose of the marriage. Looking at the situation from their point of view, that is perhaps understandable. In U.S. Immigration law, marriage to an American citizen is one qualification to be granted permanent residence in this country.
After the 705 couple matching in 1979, many international couples got civil marriages and applied for permanent residence based on marriage, which is probably the strongest grounds in Immigration law for getting a permanent visa. Approximately one hundred members have received such visas.
The challenges that have come up as members have applied for permanent visas have stimulated me to look at the Blessing from a legal point of view and to try to determine exactly what it signifies. In contrast to the usual meaning of engagement in American society, our church's matching involves a lifelong commitment. In my analysis, the Blessing ceremony involves three phases:
1) When Father matches a couple and the couple decides to accept the match,
2) They take part in the Holy Wine Ceremony during which an eternal commitment is made,
3) The more external event is the final ceremony which is yet to come for all the matched couples.
The Wine Ceremony is an even more binding commitment than any ordinary marriage commitment, for at that point we take responsibility for our spouse and accept him or her as our eternal mate. The Wine Ceremony is followed by a period of separation, to deepen our relationship with God and to make a determination to build a wholesome, God-centered family. Although at the time of the 1800-couple Blessing, the Wine Ceremony and the Blessing Ceremony were only several days apart, as far as I could tell, the eternal commitment was made at the Wine Ceremony, in terms of the couples taking responsibility for each other's lives. A civil wedding ceremony is a less firm and less important commitment.
Perhaps our members do not always reflect on the source of their commitment so that they can give a good explanation about their Blessing to the Immigration officials. Our way of life flows from our religious convictions, which cannot be tampered with or regulated by the United States Government; we are guiding our lives according to the Divine Principle. For myself, I know that if I had not heard Divine Principle, Father would have absolutely no influence over my life. I explain to the Immigration officials that when I studied Divine Principle, it indicated to me that Reverend Moon was an instrument whom God is using, and because of my belief in the Principle, I submit to Reverend Moon's guidance.
To me, the core of our way of life and the reason why we sacrifice our families is our belief in the Divine Principle. Thus, although our lifestyle may not appear normal, it is a lifestyle regulated by our religious commitment and thus protected by the First Amendment.
Recently I decided to go to the Immigration Service office in New York with one of our attorneys to try to submit a statement about the Blessing. We had a very good experience with an investigator who had been appointed guardian of the Unification Church files and coordinator of all Unification Church cases. We spent two four-hour sessions together, to make a record about the Wine Ceremony and the Blessing which can be used as an official basis for determining the validity of Unification Church marriages.
In the past, the Immigration Service has gotten most of its information from sources other than the church, which I feel accounts for the strange concepts that Immigration officials have. However, this time, one official finally agreed to record our explanation; furthermore, after listening to it, he concluded that for the purpose of Immigration, these marriages are indisputable, regardless of whether the individuals are living together or not. However, this is the opinion of only one investigator and has not been made into a legal precedent.
There is no central way to educate Immigration officials; the education has to be accomplished either person by person, or by filing a lawsuit and obtaining a decision based on facts. We can educate one investigator, but there are always other investigators with differing opinions.
In one state, a member's application for residence based on marriage fell under suspicion since the couple was not living together, and the case was forwarded to the criminal investigations section. I met with the section supervisor and he told me that superficially it seemed that these marriages were arranged just to solve immigration problems. I responded by saying that if, first of all, such were the motive, we would have done it a long time ago, because we have had immigration problems since 1974. I said, furthermore, that the Immigration Service does not comprehend our view of marriage because it has never probed it deeply enough.
The supervisor admitted to having only a superficial viewpoint. I explained that our members who are not living together do so because they are seriously dedicated to solving such problems as moral corruption, materialistic ideology and drug abuse in America, trying to win America back to God. I said that members would love to live as any normal family, but that they are sacrificing that for a time. I urged the supervisor not to view their sacrifice as something abnormal or tricky. The supervisor then advised that when we did have normal marriages to seek the benefits of the Immigration Service at that time. I told him I had no desire for a "normal" marriage, because "normal" marriages in America today have a success rate of one out of two. He could not refute that. Finally he concluded that the case needed no further investigation.
One matter recently resolved was the visas which were finally obtained for Rev. Kwak's wife and six children. Rev. Kwak came to America in 1976, leaving his wife and six children behind in Korea. In April 1979, they applied for visas to be able to come and join him. The type of visa that Rev. Kwak has entitles his wife and children to the same benefits as himself. However, the Immigration Service, being aware that Rev. Kwak is a member of the Unification Church, decided to delay his family's visas and investigate the basis for his having received one. It caused deep grief, keeping the family separated.
An investigator in New York was assigned the case. He conducted a lengthy investigation, but after about six months he concluded that he could find no basis for denying the visas. We urged him to pass on that word to Korea, but he began to procrastinate.
I think a lot of conditions were made for Rev. Kwak's family, since many people were aware of his suffering. About a year and a half ago, his wife had a nearly fatal heart attack, perhaps due in part to the pressure and responsibility entailed by her husband's absence. When Rev. Kwak arrived in Seoul three days later, he was advised to make funeral preparations, since his wife had only a one percent chance of recovery. Her survival and her recuperation amazed the doctors.
The office of a sympathetic Congressman was contacted, and a black woman working there telephoned the investigator handling the case. He told her that he was not prejudiced and then made some unkind remarks about Koreans. Because she is black, she is very familiar with the line, "I am not prejudiced, but ... " and she became angry with the man. She pursued the case with incredible determination. Still, he kept procrastinating. After tying up the case for two years, he finally sent a cable to Korea stating that there was no adverse information to report that would keep Rev. Kwak's family from legally obtaining the desired visas.
I feel that the attitudes of various people within the Immigration Service are based on misinformation and adverse opinions propagated by the media, which stimulate biases and prejudices. Of course, officials cannot base an opinion on their own biases, but they can look for some insignificant point upon which to deny a visa. They regulate who is allowed to enter this country and who is not, but to do so without determining the facts or weighing them fairly is a failure of responsibility. By hiring attorneys and dragging cases through the courts, we can challenge them to prove their allegations and assumptions.
In whatever country they work, Unification Church members labor to uplift it and strengthen its moral fabric: this should be known. The value of Unification Church missionaries should be recognized and understood.
Our situation is not unlike what the American blacks have gone through. People created myths that blacks were "dangerous" or "unlike whites." Finally the Supreme Court handed down some strong decisions dealing with civil rights, and laws were written to give blacks equal rights. However, the responsibility for enforcing the laws falls upon individuals, and individuals' personal opinions may interfere with a just application of the law.
In our case, we also are dealing with myths created in people's minds. All the average person knows about us is what he reads or hears on the mass media, and he assumes it to be true because he accepts the system, he accepts things the way they are.
We then have to find individuals who can see situations accurately and stand up for righteousness. When this kind of person begins to speak out on behalf of the church and on behalf of Father, then public opinion will begin to change, because people will want to be on the side of the majority. People like to be fashionable.