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End the diversity visa lottery TODAY

End the diversity visa lottery TODAY

It’s the Halloween horror story of our immigration system. The diversity visa lottery is the prime example of the backwards nature of our immigration system. It violates the essence of the social compact, which places the citizenry in charge of immigration. The lottery, created in 1990, allows random foreign nationals to put their names in a hat and obtain a green card simply by luck. Rather than a deliberate system, it subjects our welfare and security to the random nature of a lottery. In light of yesterday’s terror attack, allegedly perpetrated by a 2010 winner of the lottery, it’s time to abolish this wrongheaded policy.

Lottery winners from dangerous countries

As I wrote in chapter eight of “Stolen Sovereignty,” the lottery was instituted as part of the 1990 immigration bill and was designed to foster more immigration from countries that don’t typically send large numbers of immigrants to our shores. Ironically, at the time, this meant Europe. And most of the initial beneficiaries were from Europe, particularly Ireland. In fact, like every other immigration proposal, this one was sold as a way of attracting more immigrants from Europe. But in recent years, the primary recipients of diversity visas are from Africa and the Middle East, including Islamic countries such as Iran, Egypt, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, and Turkey. Over 77 percent of the diversity visas over the past decade have come from Africa and Asia. It is estimated that more than half of visa lottery recipients are from countries with a predominantly Muslim population. Ironically, Bangladesh and Egypt, for many years, were top recipients of the diversity visa lottery and among the fastest-growing sending countries of immigrants overall. We’ve brought in over 180,000 from Bangladesh since 2001, which has only recently become ineligible for the lottery because it has spawned such growth.

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Roughly 45,000 to 55,000 individuals come here on green cards issued by this program every year. They don’t need any skills other than a high school diploma or two years of almost any work experience in anything. And given that they often have no ties to America and hail from third-world countries, it’s hard to prevent fraud or to properly vet them. One of the top winning countries of origin in 2016 was Iran, a country from which we’ve admitted 191,000 immigrants since 2001.

Mark Levin spawned a national discussion over the absurdity of this program last night on his radio show after it was revealed that the suspect, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, came here on the visa lottery program from Uzbekistan.

Conservatives have been trying to end this theft of American sovereignty for years. Before the House and Senate were filled with members of the alt-Left from both parties, there was bipartisan support to terminate it. In 2005, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the current chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, passed an amendment to abolish this program. It garnered support from almost every Republican and 57 Democrats. Even Jeff Flake, then a congressman, voted for it. The House Judiciary Committee last passed the bill in 2011. In 2012, the House passed a bill that repealed the lottery but also reallocated those visas for immigrants with skills in STEM. The current repeal bill, H.R. 1178, is sponsored by Rep. Bill Posey.

Previous efforts to abolish the visa lottery were buoyed by the case of Hesham Mohamed Ali Hadayet, the Egyptian immigrant who shot and killed two people at Los Angeles International Airport on July 4, 2002. He had obtained LPR status as the spouse of a winner of the diversity lottery, even though he had been living in the country illegally and was denied asylum. As early as 2004, the Office of the Inspector General stated that, given the program’s random nature, the visa lottery program contained “significant threats to national security” from entry of hostile intelligence officers, criminals, and terrorists into the United States as permanent residents.

Time for Trump to act

There is an immediate need to cut off this program. The lottery occurs at this time of year, and applicants have until November 22 to submit their names. Trump has scheduled a meeting with GOP senators on Thursday to discuss a “Daca fix.” What about an American security fix? Why should amnesty even be mentioned when immigration must first be fixed for Americans? Trump’s tweets have been on message, but it’s time for him to convert his tweets into a series of policy demands from congressional leaders.

Ideally, Trump would suspend the diversity visa lottery unilaterally. Even though it is written into statute, section 212 of the INA, among other laws, grants the president the authority to shut off immigration when he determines there is a risk. While a president can never be looser on immigration than statute permits, both the law and Article II powers allow the president to be stricter when he deems it necessary. Unfortunately, the administration has already accepted the notion that a district judge can demand that the president actively give out visas, even when the judge was already slapped down by the Supreme Court and it runs contrary to 200 years of uninterrupted case law. Liberal organizations have already secured a promise from a D.C. district judge to continue admitting winners of the diversity lottery from countries on Trump’s immigration ban list.

Therefore, Trump must demand that the House immediately pass H.R. 1178 to repeal this odious program while kicking the lower courts out of immigration altogether.

Sadly, we are more likely to win the lottery than to have Congress put America first in immigration.



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