Visa Diversity Lottery giveaway

by Fred Elbel

Until 1965, our immigration system quite sensibly promoted immigration according to the historical ethnic composition of our nation. As an offshoot of civil rights concerns, the traditional immigration system was scrapped. Part of the restructuring of our immigration system involved creating the Diversity Visa Lottery.

The Diversity Visa Lottery gives away 55,000 visas each year by lottery. It is intended to benefit nationals of countries considered underrepresented in the immigrant flow into the United States. It is in reality a throwback to a race-conscious admission system.

The first visa lottery was adopted in 1986, with a quota of 10,000 visas for immigrants from countries "adversely affected" by Sen. Ted Kennedy's 1965 Immigration Act. Interestingly, over three-fifths of those visas were issued to immigrants from Ireland, Canada and the United Kingdom - countries that had not previously been subject to immigration limitations.

The Diversity Visa Lottery was permanently entrenched in 1995. While the intent of the lottery was to discriminate against countries such as Mexico and the Philippines with high levels of immigration, the lottery was cleverly worded so as to cater to Irish immigrants.

The lottery bypasses standard normal visa criteria. Applicants are not required to have a sponsoring family member or employer. In fact, they can already be in the United States as temporary legal visitors or as illegal aliens.

The lottery does not bring in those with useful skills or experience. The Center for Immigration Studies points out that:

According to DHS statistics, few of the lottery immigrants bring useful skills or experience. More than 40 percent list their occupation as "No occupation/not working outside home". Only 23 percent claim to be in a management or professional occupation; the rest say they work at low-skill jobs.

The visa lottery is susceptible to rampant fraud, and is in fact biased toward bringing in immigrants from countries that are of special concern in the war against Islamic terrorism.

In a nation of over 322 million Americans (including a huge number of illegal aliens), do we really need a lottery to randomly bring in more people? There is no good reason to keep the Diversity Visa Lottery.


A brief history of US immigration policy and laws, CAIRCO research.

Ted Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act: The War On America Turns 50, Ann Coulter, VDare, September 30, 2015.

Ted Kennedy is not responsible for the Immigration Act of 1965, The Occidental Observer, May 29, 2013.

...The 1965 law was the culmination of a 40-year effort by the Jewish community to overturn the 1924 law...

Lottery Visas - What is the Visa Lottery?, FAIR, 2002.

Taking Chances: The Folly of the Visa Lottery, by Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies, July 2004.

...In 1986, Congress used this lack of immigrant diversity as a pretext for instituting an affirmative action program for white immigrants, in the form of a "diversity lottery." Devised by its sponsors (Irish-American members of Congress) as a subterfuge to amnesty Irish illegal aliens, the program continues even in the absence of any more Irish illegals — Ireland is now a country of immigration for the first time in centuries.

Nonetheless, the lottery — like many other federal programs — has taken on a life of its own. It has evolved over the years, and now offers a maximum of 50,000 visas per year to people from "underrepresented" countries, i.e., all the nations of the world other than the top dozen or so sources of immigration. In practice, this means that most visa lottery winners come from the Islamic world and sub-Saharan Africa...

Of course, fraud is bad enough when people lie about their education or work experience. But after 9/11, immigration fraud of any kind poses a dire security threat. First of all, weeding out fraudulent lottery applications, and even processing legitimate ones, is a diversion for an agency that’s supposed to be identifying terrorists among the millions seeking to come to America. An internal audit conducted by the State Department in the 1990s characterized the visa lottery as a costly unfunded mandate that saps personnel resources.

Nor does the lottery draw people randomly from around the globe whose backgrounds then need to be examined. Winners come disproportionately from the Islamic world, with about one-third coming from Muslim-majority countries. What’s more, the lottery is a disproportionately important means of immigration for people from those countries; while only about 10 percent of all people who got green cards last year from countries eligible for the lottery were beneficiaries of the lottery (the rest came under other immigration categories), the proportion for many Muslim countries was much higher. It’s bad enough that around 10 percent of immigrants from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Yemen used the lottery, but some 20-25 percent of immigrants from Egypt, Bangladesh, and Sudan came that way, as did nearly half of Moroccan and Algerian immigrants.

A survey of the religious preferences of immigrants confirms this. Although the sample size was small, it found that 18.6 percent of Muslim immigrants who received green cards in 1996 entered under the visa lottery, the second-largest immigration avenue for Muslim immigrants after marriage to a U.S. citizen. What’s more, about one-fourth of all immigrants using the visa lottery identified themselves as Muslims, while only 8 percent of the total number of immigrants in the survey did so....

Congressional Testimony: What's Wrong With the Visa Lottery?, by Steven A. Camarota, April 2004.

One of the things that makes the lottery so difficult to administer is that corruption and fraud are so widespread in the countries that send in the most applications for the lottery. The two most corrupt nations in the world, according to Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index 2003, Bangladesh and Nigeria, are also perennially among the top-10 lottery winners...

We must remember that the lottery does not draw people randomly from around the globe. Winners come disproportionately from countries that were part of the special registration system for temporary visitors set up by DHS after 9/11. All observers agree that these countries are of special concern in the war against Islamic extremism. And about a third of winners come from those countries...

Visa Lottery Prone To Social Security Fraud, NumbersUSA, December 3, 2015.

Who Wins the Visa Lottery? by Jessica Vaughan, Center for Immigration Studies, December 4, 2012.

Three Decades of Mass Immigration: The Legacy of the 1965 Immigration Act, Center for Immigration Studies, September 1995.

Will the West Wake Up?, Patrick J. Buchanan, May 24, 2013.

...It was in 1965, halcyon hour of the Great Society, that Ted Kennedy led Congress into abolishing a policy that had restricted immigration for 40 years, while we absorbed and Americanized the millions who had come over between 1890 and 1920.

The "national origins" feature of that 1924 law mandated that ships arriving at U.S. ports carry immigrants from countries that had provided our immigrants in the past. We liked who we were.

Immigration policy was written to reinforce the Western orientation and roots of America, 90 percent of whose population could by 1960 trace its ancestry to the Old Continent.

But since 1965, immigration policy has been run by people who detest that America and wanted a new nation that looked less like Europe and more like a continental replica of the U.N. General Assembly...

Visa Waiver Program - CAIRCO research.

Visa overstays - CAIRCO research.

Visa alphabet soup - an unmanageable mix - CAIRCO research.