Every year millions of would-be immigrants take a gamble and submit their names for the U.S. government’s annual visa lottery.
The odds of getting permission to move to the United States are slim at best–nearly 15 million people applied in 2010 for 55,000 visas–could get slimmer.
A bill to abolish the annual lottery was referred by the Judiciary Committee to the full House Wednesday.
Democratic opponents, including Michigan Democrat John Conyers, countered that eliminating the visa lottery would essentially end legal immigration from African nations and reduce the overall number of visas available to all immigrants.
“The diversity program has always been an important part of our immigration system,” Conyers said. “I’m looking to improve it. It provides a legal option for qualified individuals. Without this program our immigration system would look very different, and not in a good way.”