Congressmen Look to End Controversial Visa Lottery for Terrorist Countries

Kimberly Dvorak, National Examiner, January 8, 2010

Each year in the United States the immigration department holds a lottery where 50,000 immigrants who seek to reside in America can win the golden ticket and gain legal entry into the country. The popular program is only available for those countries that do not send a large number of immigrants to the U.S.

In an effort to remove any possible security risks, Congressmen Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) have asked Chairman of the Judiciary committee, John Conyers (D-MI) urging the committee to consider eliminating the annual visa lottery. (Note: state sponsors of terrorism are not excluded from the lottery.)

The Congressmen pointed out countries that are eligible for the visa lottery include; Iran, Sudan, Cuba as well as 13 of the 14 nations the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) crack down on airport security, including Nigeria home country of the Christmas Day terrorist incident.

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Congressman Smith continued to say the visa lottery is a dangerous game with our national security. “America already has the most generous immigration policy in the world, admitting over one million legal immigrants each year. But under the current lottery system, up to 50,000 randomly selected alien applicants win visas each year, many from countries with a significant terrorist presence.”

In 2007, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report stating the visa lottery system “is vulnerable to fraudulent activity committed by and against applicants. . . .” The report continued to say “widespread use of fake documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates and passports, presented challenges in the government’s ability to verify the identities of applicants and dependents.”

In addition to this report, at the 109th Congress, the State Department Inspector General testified before Congress that the visa lottery “contains significant risks to national security from hostile intelligence officers, criminals and terrorists attempting to use the program for entry into the U.S. as permanent residents.” {snip}

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Congressman Goodlatte also introduced the Visa Lottery Elimination Act on May 7, 2009 and the legislation currently resides within the House Judiciary Committee. Perhaps now the Democratic leadership within the committee will put this bill at the top of their “to do list.”

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[Editor’s Note: An earlier story on the visa lottery can be read here. An AR article on the lottery is available here.]

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