On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted 19-11 to pass Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) SAFE Act to abolish the Diversity Visa Lottery. The bill will now go before the full House.
Most Americans do not even know that we have a lottery to give out Visas, but the rest of the world knows. In 2009, more than 15 million applications for the Visa Lottery were filled online. The only requirement is a high school diploma or some equivalency. The immigrants are selected by simply put the applications in a lottery. 50,000 Diversity Immigrant Visas are then granted random chance.
John Conyers (D-MI), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, decried the SAFE Act because the “diversity program has always been an important part of our immigration system," noting that it is the major source for African immigration.
In reality, the lottery is only 25 years old, and was never meant for African immigrants. The Lottery was created in 1986 under the guise of giving visas to Irish illegal aliens who were largely ineligible by the 1986 Amnesty. For years it was known as the “Irish Program.” However, as Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies explains,
“Nonetheless, the lottery — like many other federal programs — has taken on a life of its own. It has evolved over the years, and now offers a maximum of 50,000 visas per year to people from ‘underrepresented’ countries, i.e., all the nations of the world other than the top dozen or so sources of immigration.1 In practice, this means that most visa lottery winners come from the Islamic world and sub-Saharan Africa.”
Ultimately, our immigration policy is simply a question of how many people we let into the country and how to choose them. Personally, I believe that we should choose those who are most likely to contribute to American society and assimilate into our common culture. Some argue that we should base it more on humanitarian concerns or those who have family members here. Regardless of your view, simply awarding residency and eventually citizenship by the luck of the draw is absurd.
There are other serious concerns with the Visa Lottery.
First, it is a major national security risk. Terrorist supporting countries such as Iran, Sudan, Syria are among the countries that receive the most visas. Mohammed Atta, the mastermind behind the 9-11 terrorist attacks applied for the visa lottery at least once, and by luck, he was denied. However, we were not so lucky with other terrorists.