November 26, 2012

Great moments in the history of the Diversity Visa Immigration Lottery

House Republicans have scheduled a vote for this Friday on an immigration compromise guaranteeing green cards to foreign STEM advanced degree holders in return for the end of Ted Kennedy's two-decade old Diversity Visa Immigration Lottery. 

This sounds like tough sledding to me to get it past the Democratic-controlled Senate and signed by the President. Consider the glamor of the four words:

Lottery -- States spend hundreds of millions per year to advertise the lotteries as fun, exciting, and a good investment

Visa -- the Visa consortium spends hundreds of millions per year to market the Visa name as fun and indispensable

Diversity -- One of the two highest values of 21st Century America

Immigration -- One of the two highest values of 21st Century America

So, good luck Republicans on being against the diversity immigration visa lottery just because it's a bad law. The GOP doesn't control the myth-making machinery, and that's what counts.

Anyway, here's something I wrote over a decade ago:
That Curious Diversity Visa Immigration Lottery
by Steve Sailer
UPI, July 29, 2002

One of the U.S. government's more obscure yet curious programs received some unwanted publicity on the Fourth of July when Egyptian immigrant Hesham Mohamed Hadayet killed two Jews at the Israeli El Al Airline counter of Los Angeles International Airport.

To be precise, received some unwanted publicity from me and, rounding to the nearest ten, maybe zero others.

Heck, the entire incident quickly vanished from memory, probably because it contradicted the talking point for George W. Bush that he had protected us from anymore terrorist attacks since 9/11 and it contradicted the Democratic meme that all we have to fear are Angry White Men like, say, George Zimmerman. (Fortunately, Wikipedia has a decent brief write-up noting that the FBI and DOJ eventually confirmed this was a terrorist attack.)
Hadayet had been scheduled for deportation in 1997, but was allowed to remain in America when his wife's application to receive a coveted "green card" for permanent residency was randomly drawn by the State Department from the millions of applicants to the annual Diversity Visa Lottery. 
What is this Diversity Visa Lottery that so few Americans have heard of, yet is of such avid interest around the world that anti-government riots raged in the impoverished African country of Sierra Leone in 1997 when 5,000 lottery applications mailed by locals were found floating in the Freetown harbor? 
In the latest drawing, 8.7 million foreigners filed free applications. Permanent residency visas will then be handed out to 50,000 individuals from 167 countries. (That's 174 applications per green card granted.) The lottery accounts for about 7 percent of all legal immigrants to the United States. 
According to New York City immigration lawyer Richard Madison, "The purpose of the diversity lottery is to make the immigrant population of the United States more varied." Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, who advocates abolition of the program, said, "The lottery is premised on the belief that America needs immigrants as such -- not people with relatives here, or with job offers, or fleeing persecution -- just more random people." 
The program allows more immigration from countries that don't send America large numbers of immigrants through the normal channels of family reunification (which accounted for 72 percent of all immigrants in 1998), employer sponsorship (12 percent, which includes the employee's spouses and children), and refugee status (8 percent). 
When the 1965 immigration law opened the new era of mass immigration, a few Asian and Latin American countries quickly came to dominate the flow of immigrants. Those early arrivers, in turn, brought in their relatives who eventually brought in their relatives -- what's called "chain migration." This left very little opportunity for people from countries that hadn't gotten in on the system early to qualify to immigrate. 
Oddly enough, the diversity lottery originated as a way to bring more whites to the United States. White ethnic politicians in America felt that their distant relatives in Europe had been squeezed out by chain migration from the Third World. So, natives of the 14 largest sources of legal immigrants -- such as Mexico, India and China -- are banned from participating. In particular, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., saw a diversity lottery as a way to boost the number of legal Irish immigrants. 
Krikorian explained, "It was cooked up in the 1986 law to provide a way to amnesty Irish illegal aliens, since the main amnesty in that law primarily benefited Mexicans. In fact, to this day the lottery is often referred to by congressmen and their staff as 'The Irish Program.' But as the program evolved, and as there were fewer and fewer Irish illegals, its emphasis changed, and it's now more accurately described as the Middle Eastern, East European and African program." 
Only 331 visas were awarded to Irish applicants this year. 
Requirements for qualifying are fairly minimal. To be eligible to win permanent residency, a high school diploma is required. Failing that, the lucky winner can still get by with "two years of work experience ... in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience." Winners also must undergo a physical exam and a background police check. 
Interestingly, this program run by the State Department increases immigration from the seven countries that the State Department has declared "state sponsors of international terrorism:" Iran (768 visas this year), Iraq (71), Syria (62), Libya (61), Cuba (529), North Korea (four) and Sudan (1,297). 
It also awards permanent residency to the natives of two countries that are the prime sources of al Qaida -- the network of suspected terrorists: Saudi Arabia (38) and Egypt (1,551). Other participating countries with active Islamist terrorist elements include Algeria (834), Lebanon (62) and Yemen (45). 
... Despite the enormous number of applications received annually, the government makes no attempt to skim the cream off the top. The lottery truly is a lottery. Rather than try to choose those applicants whose skills would most benefit America, the government simply draws blindly. 
Judith Golub, a spokeswoman for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, defended the arbitrariness of the selection process, saying, "Maybe it serves to reflect who we are as a nation. This country has always valued diversity." 
Of course, it's not logically necessary for the program to be a lottery for it to maintain its current commitment to diversity. The government could simply keep the present national quotas and just fill them with the highest potential applicants out of all those applying from each particular country. 
While Americans sometimes seem uncomfortable choosing among immigration candidates, Canada uses a point system to try to identify those would-be immigrants who possess the "human capital" to most benefit Canada as a whole. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Elinor Caplan explained, "Independent skilled immigrants (the largest single class of those admitted to Canada) are selected on the basis of their potential contribution to Canada's economic and social well-being."

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a total disaster the 1965 immigration act really was. If Americans had only known.....

Anonymous said...

What about tech guys from Eastern Europe instead of just India under the new stem.

Matthew said...

"Oddly enough, the diversity lottery originated as a way to bring more whites to the United States."

Because God forbid we, ya know, acknowledge that Europeans form the founding stock of this country - politically, culturally, and religiously. God forbid we create an immigration category specifically to benefit that group of people.

Oddly the liberals who allegedly object to racial favoritism w.r.t. immigration are plenty happy to favor their own. Frank Lautenberg, the illegally elected US senator from New Jersey, gave us the Lautenberg Amendment, an immigration law explicitly meant to give special immigration privileges to Russian Jews.

Ted Kennedy did something similar for the Irish.

But if a WASP or (real) Scots-Irish senator produced a bill granting specifically allowing in 440,000 ethnic Brits it would be roundly denounced in the press as racist, and would fail on a vote of 91-9.

Paul Mendez said...

"two years of work experience ... in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience."

Two years of camel herding or yam cultivating experience, and you're barely at journeyman level.

x said...

i always thought skilled immigration enthusiasts were funny. they're as universalistic and for-the-good-of-the-world as the humanitarian bleeding hearts who want to inundate us with poor. skillless third world dregs because they feel bad for them, but i've always wondered if they've ever stopped to notice that maybe, just maybe, poor, dysfunctional third world countries need their highly skilled people a lot more than we need them. a trained doctor in a country like zambia or india can do a lot more good for his people if he stays home instead of running off to the first world in the pursuit of better economic opportunities for himself.

Skeptical Economist said...

Supposedly the Democrats in the Senate were going to pass this until the White House told them to stop it. Wait for the full Amnesty is the message.

Anonymous said...

Punish highly educated liberals and let in fewer worthless gutter trash... win/win

Anonymoose said...



"Punish highly educated liberals and let in fewer worthless gutter trash... win/win "

Have we already conceded education as a "liberal" thng? Sheesh, people. Not like liberals are educated in the fields in which skilled immigrants are replacing people, either. It's not like they're importing journalists and education administrators.

Eddie Willers said...

Don't forget - Limeys aren't allowed to participate in the DV program either.

Unless one was born in Northern Ireland - which makes one a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland...a Limey! - so it really must be to benefit the 'Irish'.

JI said...

The Republicans don't want to get rid of this lottery. They're just putting on a good show to keep their base fooled into thinking that they actually have conservative principles. Just look at all the elected Republicans who vote time and again for pro-Amnesty or pro-Mexican immigration bills. As an example, the Bush-McCain-Kennedy Amnesty bill had two Republican sponsors and one, freakishly liberal, anti-traditional America, narcissistic and twisted Democrat sponsor.

Suki Hanes said...

"House Republicans have scheduled a vote for this Friday on an immigration compromise guaranteeing green cards to foreign STEM advanced degree holders in return for the end of Ted Kennedy's two-decade old Diversity Visa Immigration Lottery."

Those damn grad students and postdocs make too much damn money. We need to drive down their wages even more.

Mr. Anon said...

"Judith Golub, a spokeswoman for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, defended the arbitrariness of the selection process, saying, "Maybe it serves to reflect who we are as a nation. This country has always valued diversity."

No, it serves to reflect who the who in "who/whom" is in this nation. I'd bet that Judith Golub is ..... whoish.

Mr. Anon said...

Even if the Republicans manage to get the lottery slots converted to H1-Bs, there will soon inevitably be a cry about how unjust it was that the diversity lottery was eliminated and it will be reinstated. Then will end up with an expanded number of visas in both categories.

I think the correct attitude to take toward congressional initiatives on immigration is: whatever you propose to do, we're against it - the Judge Elihu Smails doctrine: "You'll get nothing, and you'll like it." Just enforce the damned laws that are on the books now. We shouldn't have to bargain with our elected representatives for them to sell us out at a slightly reduced rate.

irishman said...

"Don't forget - Limeys aren't allowed to participate in the DV program either.

Unless one was born in Northern Ireland - which makes one a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland...a Limey! - so it really must be to benefit the 'Irish'.

11/26/12 5:57 PM"

All folks born on the island of Ireland as eligible for Irish citizenship. So some limeys are eligible.