Immigration reform patriots, especially those who have fought long and hard to end the horrible Visa Lottery, got good news yesterday.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the State Department is within its legal authority when it tossed out the May lottery results because of a computer error. [Judge Throws Out Challenge to U.S. Visa Lottery, Associated Press, July 14, 2011]
Predictably, the first course of action of the 22,000 "winners" who ended up being "losers" was to file a class action lawsuit to block the government from nullifying the original selections. Judge Jackson, however, concurred with the argument made by Justice Department lawyer Hans Harris Chen that the original lottery results couldn’t stand.
According to Chen, they didn’t comply with the original federal law established in 1994 that requires candidates to be selected randomly. A computer glitch allowed nearly 90 percent of winners (from 15 million submissions) to come from those who had applied within the first two days of the application period.
Interestingly 42-year-old French native Armande Gil, one of the litigants, does not live in a emerging nation as per the visa’s original intent but rather in Florida. Upon hearing the decision, Gil said: "It makes the injustice even bigger and it’s just a sense that there is nobody who hears us and whatever the government wants to do with us they can do and there is nothing we can do about it."
Had Gil’s California-based attorney Kenneth White prevailed, the chances are strong that all 22,000 who were part of the losing class action suit would have received visas as well as up to the additional 55,000 that will be picked during a new drawing on July 15.