The Diversity Visa Lottery may be one step closer to ending Monday with a vote of the membership of the House Freedom Caucus.
The lottery is an offshoot of a 1980s Ted Kennedy brainchild that brings 50,000 migrants a year into the United States for no reason other than there not being large numbers of people from their country here.
Ongoing efforts to end the visa lottery gained a new urgency when it became clear Uzbekistan-born New York City truck terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov used the program to enter, get his green card, and then use the “chain migration” policies of the 1965 Immigration Act to serve as the “primary point of contact” for 23 additional people.
The SAFE Act, introduced in February by Freedom Caucus member Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), would cleanly eliminate the lottery. Monday night, his three dozen fellow caucus members voted to back the bill. The Freedom Caucus issued a statement following the vote that read:
In the wake of the recent terrorist attack in New York City, we call on House leadership to follow President Trump’s call to end the diversity visa lottery program. We should have an up-or-down stand-alone vote on [the SAFE Act] and send it to the Senate. As President Trump said, It’s time to get tougher and smarter on immigration.
The bill will still have to pass through the House Judiciary Committee to get an up-or-down vote on the House floor.
The visa lottery was originally implemented in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990 to randomize a 1987 ploy by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) to allow primarily Irish and Northern Irish immigrants an easier time getting green cards after the 1965 Act banned simply allowing more or fewer immigrants based on national origin.
It has since become a magnet for 14 million green card seekers a year, with no other qualifications to come to the United States to try their luck. It has also been a frequent target of fraud and abuse. Those who become citizens – or, like Saipov, permenent residents of the United States –can then use chain migration to bring in those they claim are extended family, which is notoriously difficult to verify.
A Center for Immigration Studies report released Friday indicates that, since 1994, five million foreigners have gotten green cards through chain migration from Diversity Visa Lottery winners.