Despite Terrorist Threats, the Diversity Visa Rolls On

Published on September 27th, 2014

By Joe Guzzardi
September 27, 2014

On October 1, the State Department will begin its annual practice of accepting diversity visa (DV) lottery applications. The window is open until noon EST November 4. Exactly 50,000 visas will be issued.

The DV, created by the Immigration Act of 1990, sought to bring more immigrants into the U.S. from countries that, based on the previous five year’s trend, sent few. Visas are granted willy-nilly through random computer selection, without regard for education, skills, family ties or the possibility of national security threats such as terrorism, espionage and criminal refuge. Historically, immigrants with relatives in the U.S. or a corporate sponsor have better chances of assimilating and contributing to American society than those haphazardly chosen.

DVs pose three major problems. First is security. In 2002, Egyptian national Hesham Mohamed Hedayet killed two and wounded three during his shooting spree at the Los Angeles International Airport. Hedayet had been allowed to apply for lawful permanent resident status because, in one of the visa’s peculiar conditions that allow spouses of DV winners to qualify, his wife had won. Countries eligible for the DV include, but are not limited to, terrorist-sympathetic nations that harbor organizations that have overtly expressed their intentions to attack the U.S. like Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Second, the DV is unfair to legal immigrants. Since the visa lottery doesn’t exclude illegal aliens within the U.S. from winning, it penalizes prospective immigrants who obey immigration laws and patiently wait in line. Most family-sponsored immigrants face delays of up to a decade or more while indiscriminately selected DV holders leapfrog them.

Third, as is so often the case with U.S. visa programs, the DV is wrought with fraud. Foreign nationals often apply multiple times using different alias and falsified personal information. In many nations that have produced DV winners like Nigeria and Bangladesh, countries that often appear on the top ten list of successful applicants, widespread fraud is common. The DV is so coveted abroad that a cottage industry featuring alleged U.S. sponsors collects large sums from unsuspecting foreigners willing to pay top dollar for a nonexistent “guarantee” of U.S. permanent legal status.

Nevertheless, in October, the State Department will process more than 10 million applications at an enormous federal expense. The massive oversight requires the already burdened State Department and Department of Homeland Security to weed out the fraud and vet the winners.

No other nation offers a DV lottery; only the U.S. is so casual about those it allows to become permanent residents. The feeble excuse for the DVs continued existence is that it promotes more diversity which ironically it doesn’t do. According to the latest Census Bureau data, Mexico is, by a large margin, the largest immigrant-sending country. If the U.S. wants to boost diversity, it should decrease Mexican immigration and increase immigration from the world’s other countries.

To help understand how ill-advised the DV is, imagine that your workplace determined who its future employees would be by drawing names out of a hat. Then, once they were chosen, the new staff members had a lifetime guarantee of staying on no matter what their job performance was.

In short, the DV serves no logical purpose, offers no economic benefits, fails to reunite families and, as noted above, doesn’t actually increase diversity. During this era of heightened U.S. security concerns, the DV should be eliminated.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been nationally syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]

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