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What is the diversity visa program ?

November 2, 2017

The President announced yesterday that the “diversity” visa was done, as far he was concerned. The New York attack was the straw that broke the camel’s back for him.

If your first response when you heard those words was “WTH is that?” you weren’t alone. What isn’t commonly reported is that the program is more than a quarter-century old.

The program was established as a part of the Immigration Act of 1990 (You can peruse a history for the program here), and was actually the brain child of the late Ted Kennedy (not Chuck Schumer, although he did shepherd it through, as SB 358) in 1989. It was lauded by Bush 41, who signed it enthusiastically.

The security requirements were minimal to non-existent, requiring only a high school diploma and two years each of job training and job experience, which could run concurrently if the training was through an apprentice program. Do-gooders on both sides of the aisle loved it.

Popularly known as the green card lottery, the original intent was to provide more “diversity” in the immigrant population by increasing the number of people from what were deemed “under-represented countries.”

It had and has little to no benefit to the U.S. except as a feel-good marker  and a means whereby lottery winners can get a lot more people into the states without any meaningful scrutiny, since it is also the basis for the so-called “chain migration” policy under scrutiny now.

Indeed, the annual figure given for Uzbek lottery winners of 2300-plus does not begin to adequately count the true number brought in as relatives. Even if you count only parents, the potential quantity is triple that number, annually.

If, as reported in the media, the perpetrator in this case brought 23 people into the U.S. under the chain migration portion of the Act and if that better represents a fair average, that’s a potential for more than 52,900 unvetted immigrants annually just from Uzbekistan.

There is nothing in that scenario that benefits the U.S.  Today, it’s questionable whether we need the program, if we ever did.

At the heart of the whole immigration question is, what is the purpose of having immigration at all?

Does the United States owe the world access to our country because we feel guilty for our successes, or should immigration serve the needs of the United States, and if the latter is true, what are those needs?

Certainly there is a pragmatic part to immigration. Certain industries have a need for temporary workers, and for some reason, the so-called guest worker program doesn’t seem able to fill that need in a timely fashion.

In truth, the whole system needs an overhaul, but an amendment to end the lottery would be a start.

A guest worker was never meant to be a permanent citizen, unless they then applied properly to become one.

There are also certain skills that we periodically don’t seem able to grow here at home.  At one time that encompassed scientists (like Wernher van Braun during WII) and later, computer and IT skills.

Now, as our society seems hell bent on creating a nation of effete “thinkers” and keyboard pounders, those skills are increasingly blue collar in nature.

Unfortunately, we do still need people to pick strawberries, fix our sinks, paint our houses, pick up our garbage and yes, clean our toilets.

If the figures regarding how many immigrants receive long-term welfare support are correct, we now have an excess of those folks who say they are willing to do those things.

The result was that two U.S. citizens and six visitors from Argentina and Belgium whose only “crime” was being in the wrong place at the wrong time are no longer with their families.

Immigration reform is so much more than just “the wall,” which was a convenient campaign symbol, but is only a small part of the whole.

Diversity just for the sake of saying we “owe” everyone the chance to live here, even if they don’t or won’t accept the very values that brought them here, is a massive mistake.

Predictably, the liberals are howling.  Perhaps that gives them a chance to practice for next Wednesday’s “howl-in,” but their manufactured angst should not be codified in our immigration laws.

From → op-ed

  1. Interesting article, but I think it is unfair to blame the terrorist attack in Manhattan on the Diversity Visa program. Check out my article on this if you have time:

    • Toby, I take your article’s point, and I agree that there needs to be improvement in our counter-terrorism efforts. I based my observation on vetting, on among others, this WaPo article ( The article specifically states that winners of this lottery do not need to have a sponsor and indicates they are not vetted as thoroughly.

      That matters primarily I think, because it could mean that these folks come in with perhaps less initial support than “traditional” immigrants. That could make lottery winners more subject to being influenced by bad actors, and it also makes it harder for them to succeed.

      Does that make them more susceptible to seeking connections on the internet? I think that’s something that needs considerably more study, but I offer that it might be a factor.

      The issue of so-called chain migration can and often does greatly expand the total number of people who gain access through the program, meaning that the figures given for the number of people from any one of the countries is greater than the “official” totals, which I think is deceptive.

      I “blame” the attack on the dirtbag that did it. But, to the extent that the green card lottery makes it more difficult for our counterterrorism people to do their job, I think it may have outlived its usefulness.

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