Visa lottery sets up immigrants to fail — while risking national security

Visa lottery sets up immigrants to fail — while risking national security
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How would you defend an immigration policy that imports more than one million immigrants per year yet completely fails to bring in people with the skills, talent and language abilities to prosper in today’s high-tech America?

You can’t.

Unlike other major immigrant-receiving nations like Canada or Australia, who select immigrants based on merit, the lion’s share of immigrants receiving a coveted visa to immigrate to the U.S. are only coming because they have a relative already here. As you might guess, we end up with very low skilled immigrants — one-quarter of whom lack a high school level education — who have a very difficult time making it on their own once they arrive. That’s why nearly half of all households headed by immigrants are on some form of public assistance.


But wait, it gets worse. We also choose immigrants by a random system known as the diversity lottery. It’s not called the diversity lottery because it selects immigrants with diverse skills or qualifications, but because it’s only open to countries that have been largely excluded from the recent immigrant flow. The diversity lottery is not only a stupid policy because it choses immigrants randomly, but as we’ve recently learned, because it also poses huge national security threat.


These threats that are rife in the diversity lottery system became abundantly clear on Halloween day when Sayfullo Saipov plowed a truck into a crowd of innocent people, killing eight and injuring 12. Saipov, a poster child for the diversity lottery and a self-declared ISIS warrior, arrived in the country seven years ago from Uzbekistan, one of those lucky countries that is part of the visa lottery program. 

While shocking to most Americans, this heinous crime doesn’t surprise those who have a clear understanding of the dangers posed by the diversity lottery. A 2007 GAO Report found that since 2000 nearly 9,800 aliens from state sponsors of terrorism received diversity visas. In fact, the visa lottery draws from nations that are state sponsors of terror or known to harbor terrorists, including: Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen — and Saipov’s homeland Uzbekistan. 

Unbelievably, the standards for the visa lottery system are so low, we can’t really be certain who we’re admitting. Needless to say, not knowing a person’s true identity nor their reason for wanting to come to the U.S. (they ostensibly have no family members here and no ties to the U.S.) is a recipe for importing a disaster. 

In fact, a September 2013 State Department inspector general report found that “organized fraud rings masquerading as travel agencies” had hijacked the diversity visa program in Ukraine. Under this scheme, innocent and unwitting Ukrainians were unknowingly entered into the visa lottery system and then extorted for money or forced to enter fake marriages if they won. 

First and foremost, immigration needs to be in the national interest. Picking immigrants simply because they have a relative in this country is almost as foolhardy as choosing them randomly. There are millions of qualified, educated immigrants from across the globe who would love to compete fairly for a U.S. visa and have a chance to build their American dream.

That’s why we need to do away with the crazy visa lottery system and chain migration, and move to a smarter, more modern system of selecting immigrants — like the RAISE Act. Sponsored by Sens. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonFlake: Congress should not continue Kavanaugh investigations GOP senator suspects Schumer of being behind release of Ford letter Susan Collins becomes top 2020 target for Dems MORE (R-Ark) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) and endorsed by President Trump, the RAISE Act would accomplish all of those tasks while beginning to return immigration to more traditional levels. 

America needs to wise up and do a better job of picking immigrants who will not only benefit themselves by coming here, but also benefit us by their presence here. The RAISE Act would not only make immigration great again, it would restore the public faith in our government’s ability to enact smart policies in the national interest.

Sheriff A. J. Louderback is a four term Texas Sheriff from Jackson County, Texas.