Reasons to End the Diversity Visa: Let Me Count the Ways

Published on May 18th, 2011

A rarely mentioned fact in the heated immigration debate is that the United States isn’t obliged to admit any immigrants whatsoever. Nevertheless, American immigration policy is the most generous in the world, a fact for which we get little credit.

Compare, for example, America’s immigration approach to Japan’s. Historically, Japan allowed virtually no immigration. Only in the past few years has Japan allowed foreigners of Japanese ancestry to migrate for the exclusive purpose of filling a labor shortage. Immigration should always work to the benefit of the accepting country. If more immigration is good for the United States, then let there be more of it. But if it works to Americans’ detriment, as the past several decades of over-immigration suggest that it does, then it’s time for a moratorium.

The first place to cut back on legal immigration is to end the Diversity Visa. For the 2012 DV lottery, as it’s known, nearly 15 million worldwide applied with the hope of being one of the 50,000 winners. Last week, in an ironic twist of fate, the winning results were invalidated because of a computer glitch that, according to Assistant Secretary of State David Donahue, "…did not represent a fair, random selection of the entrants as required by U.S. law." Think about that amazing comment: the lottery isn’t random enough! The question is why does the U.S. pick the winners randomly? Shouldn’t there be some logic behind who enters the U.S.? Remember, we’re talking about free lifetime residency with the eventual ability for immigrants to petition their adult children, spouses and spouses’ parents and others in their extended families.

A Washington Post story described some of the DV’s many flaws. According to the Post, the lottery is "…designed for people who would otherwise have little chance of legally entering the country. The program doesn’t require applicants to have a family or employer as a sponsor." [State Department Computer Error Halts Immigration Lottery, by Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post, May 13, 2011]

New York immigration lawyer Richard Madison explained the DV even more succinctly, "The purpose of the diversity lottery is to make the immigrant population of the United States more varied." The DV’s goal of greater multiculturalism has been met and exceeded. However, since its creation in 1986, the DV has been awarded (randomly!) to immigrants from seven countries that the State Department has declared "state sponsors of international terrorism": Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Cuba, North Korea and Sudan.

What the United States needs is a sensible immigration policy. By definition, that would exclude the DV which has long since outlived whatever usefulness it may once have had.

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