November 1, 2017
On Tuesday, October 31, a man drove a truck down a crowded bike path Lower Manhattan, New York, killing 8 and injuring 11 people in an act of terrorism. The man who committed the act was Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year old man from Uzbekistan living in Patterson, New Jersey and driving for Uber. He came to the United States in 2010 through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, a State Department Program initiated in the 1990s to give foreigners a chance to become legal residents of the United States. Citizens from nearly any country around the world can apply free of charge to earn a visa on the State Department website and are later selected at random if they have completed high school, have at least two years of demonstrable work experience, and are not from a country that admits more than 50,000 people to the United States annually. Regardless of how many people enter into the lottery, which in previous years has been up to 15 million, only 55,000 visas are awarded through the program. If an applicant is selected in the lottery, he or she must go through the necessary steps to earn the visa, including a background check, an in-person interview at a consulate, and a biometrics exam. Should the selected applicant complete and pass all the necessary steps in a timely manner, he or she can enter the country with the chance to become a naturalized citizen in as little as five years.
Following the attack, Trump took to Twitter to denounce the program, calling for an end to the “Chuck Schumer beauty,” the Senator who introduced the program at its inception, and “Democrat lottery systems,” citing that we [the United States] must get “MUCH tougher and stronger.”
Ending the Diversity Visa Lottery program would mean ending a person’s only opportunity to legally become a U.S. resident for many people from around the world. This program affords those without family in the United States or those who lack the funds to travel to the country an opportunity to lawfully enter, work here, and eventually become a naturalized citizen. While the program has encountered issues with fraud in the past, advancements in government technology have led to a reduced number of fraudulent applications. Furthermore, the State Department has been successful in weeding out fraudulent applications through the in-person interview and biometric exam processes that follow random selection. In all, terminating the Diversity Visa Lottery program is by no means a surefire mechanism of preventing terrorist attacks on U.S. soil; it would merely terminate many good peoples’ chances of entering and contributing to the economic and cultural fabric of the United States, making a better life for themselves, their families, and the nation.
- Join the American Civic Associations: The American Civic Association is 75-year old nonprofit based in Binghamton, NY, that is committed to helping refugees and immigrants start a new life in their respective communities while preserving their ethnic and cultural diversity. You can apply to become a member of the organization, as well as donate and/or volunteer to help further its mission.
- Support the New Americans Campaign: The New Americans Campaign is a national, nonpartisan network of immigrant organizations, legal service providers, faith-based organizations, faith-based organizations, immigrant rights groups, foundations, and community leaders. A project by the Immigration Legal Resource Center, the campaign is committed to connecting lawful permanent residents to trusted legal assistance. Click here to support the campaign.
- Stay Up-to-Date with Proposed Immigration Policy: If you feel that the Diversity Lottery Program should be revised or terminated, if you are interested in learning about what alternatives to the program Congress might come up with, or if you would more generally like to stay up-to-date with immigration policies being drafted by Congress, follow Immigration policy on GovTrack and contact your representatives to let them know which policies you are for or against.
This brief was compiled by Allie Blum. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.