We don’t need a terrorist attack to know diversity program has to go

A few days ago, a 29-year-old terrorist drove a rented pickup truck down a busy bicycle path in New York City, killing eight people and injuring a dozen more. The terrorist, a native of Uzbekistan, came to the United States in 2010 through the Diversity Visa Program (program) according to press reports. Uzbekistan is a large, majority-Muslim country located north of Afghanistan.

The next day, President Donald Trump said he wants congress to terminate the program.

{mosads}Trump is not the first to want to end this program, and it is not just a partisan desire. The bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S.744, that the Senate passed in 2013 would have ended the program if it had not been rejected on other grounds in the House.

S.744 was introduced by “the Gang of 8,” which included Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.); Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), author of the original DREAM Act; and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

What is the Diversity Visa Program?

Section 201(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides 55,000 visas a year for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants,” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

The number temporarily has been reduced to 50,000, to make up to 5,000 visas a year available for use by Nicaraguans who are eligible for the NACARA program.

The eligibility requirements are stated in section 203(c). The applicant must have been born in a designated country. There are exceptions based on other connections to the designated country. Also, he must have at least a high school education or its equivalent, or two years of work experience that required at least two years of training or experience to perform.

Reasons for terminating it.

While it may be difficult to justify terminating the program on account of the recent terrorist attack, there should be some benefit to offset the fact that the program could bring terrorists to the United States. If the New York City terrorist hadn’t been here, he wouldn’t have been able to commit a terrorist act here.

The claimed benefit is diversity, but does the program really make America more diverse? The United States has a population of 326,199,506 people, and that number is increasing by one international migrant (net) every 32 seconds. How does adding 50,000 aliens a year make the country more diverse?

Nevertheless, the program is bringing a lot of people in an absolute sense. Since 1995, it has made visas available to roughly one million people who have no ties to the United States. Is this fair to American citizens and legal permanent residents who get visa petitions approved to bring family members here and then have to wait years for visas to become available?

The Visa Bulletin for November announced that visas are available to the unmarried sons and daughters of citizens, and the spouses and children and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents, on the basis of visa petitions that were filed more than six years ago on or before January 22, 2011.

The required filing dates are November 15, 2015, for the spouses and children of permanent residents; November 15, 2010, for the unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents; August 15, 2005, for the married sons and daughters of citizens; and May 22, 2004, for the brothers and sisters of citizens.

Relatives from some countries wait even longer.

The program always has had problems with fraud. An applicant once submitted more than 2,000 entries in a single year. Winners have sold themselves for marriage to bring a stranger to the United States as a spouse. And government audits have exposed sophisticated fraud schemes. This has included extortion rackets, sham marriages, and the use of fake identification documents.

Moreover, the Federal Trade Commission has warned lottery participants that scammers are using fraudulent schemes to take advantage of them.

Adequate background investigations can be difficult to conduct in many of the designated countries. All of the countries on Trump’s new travel ban list are on the list of eligible countries. In fact, in 2015, approximately 10,500 citizens from six of those countries were selected for the program according to the State Department.

Lastly, the visas are allocated randomly on the basis of a lottery run by the Department of State.

“A lottery is a crazy way to run an immigration system,” according to Steve Yale-Loehr, an immigration law professor at Cornell. “No other country selects immigrants based on a lottery.”

Wouldn’t the program add as much diversity if the same number of aliens, from the same group of countries, were to be selected on a merit-based point system?

My prediction is that the program will be terminated to make the visas available to family and/or employment-based immigrants.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.

Tags Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act Charles Schumer Demography Dick Durbin Diversity Immigrant Visa Donald Trump Foreign relations of the United States Permanent residence Robert Menendez Travel visa Visa Bulletin Visa policy of the United States

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