An Amish man who visited his ailing father in Canada has not been allowed to return because of border security aimed at thwarting terrorists. The man, adhering to the Bible’s prohibition of graven images, has no photo identification.
According to officials in Licking Township, a municipality of 475 people midway between Pittsburgh and the New York border, U.S. officials told the man photo waivers once granted the Amish have been cut off due to security concerns.
Canadian border guards allowed the man into the country to visit his father in Ontario just before Christmas; the United States has prevented his return. The man’s wife and child remain in the United States.
The border policy was altered when the Department of Homeland Security absorbed the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said attorney Mark Knapp of the international law firm Reed Smith, which took on the case Friday.
“We have a conflict between First Amendment rights and national security interests,” Knapp said.
Calls to Homeland Security were not immediately returned Friday. The family’s name has not been released.
Amish scholars say the restrictions could adversely affect the Old Order Amish who have historic ties to Pennsylvania and travel regularly from the states of Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania to Ontario, where there is a huge community.
Several experts in Amish culture said, however, they were unaware of any similar cases.