Congressman Bob Goodlatte reintroduced the Visa Lottery Elimination Act, which would eliminate the visa lottery program from the Immigration and Nationality Act, thereby helping to ensure our nation’s security while making the administration of our immigration laws more consistent and fair.
Each year there is a national immigration ‘lottery’ by which 50,000 aliens may become legal permanent residents of the U.S.
“The visa lottery program poses a national security threat. Under the program, each successful applicant is chosen at random and given the status of permanent resident based on pure luck,” Goodlatte said. “Usually, immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who have an existing connection with a family member lawfully residing in the United States or with a U.S. employer. These types of relationships help to ensure that immigrants entering the country have a stake in our nation’s continued success, and have needed skills to contribute to our nation’s economy. However, under the visa lottery program, visas are awarded to immigrants at random without meeting such criteria.”
An example of the system gone awry, and thereby posing a security threat, is the case of Hesham Mohamed Ali Hedayet, the Egyptian national who killed two and wounded three during a shooting spree at Los Angeles International Airport in July of 2002. Hadayet was a beneficiary of the immigration lottery. He and his family earned permanent resident status after his wife won the federal visa lottery, despite Hedayet’s own admission to the INS that he had been accused by the Egyptian government of being a member of a known terrorist organization.
Perhaps most troubling, the visa lottery program is wrought with fraud. A recent report released by the Center for Immigration Studies states that it is commonplace for foreign nationals to apply for the lottery program multiple times using many different aliases and other false personal information. In addition, the visa lottery program has spawned a cottage industry featuring sponsors in the U.S. who falsely promise success to applicants in exchange for large sums of money. Ill-informed foreign nationals are often willing to pay top dollar for the ‘guarantee’ of lawful permanent resident status in the U.S.