FAIR Applauds House Judiciary Committee's Support for Ending the Visa Lottery
(July 20, 2011 — Washington, D.C.) - The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) congratulates the House Judiciary Committee for approving legislation that would eliminate the ill-conceived and unnecessary “Diversity Visa” lottery. Today’s 19-11 vote clears the way for the measure, the “Security and Fairness Enhancement for America Act” or SAFE Act (H.R. 704), to go before the full House for a vote.
The Diversity Visa lottery was created by Congress in 1990 as a way to open up immigration opportunities to people in countries that were “disadvantaged” by an immigration system that is dominated by endless family chain migration. Annually, 55,000 diversity visas are awarded by lottery to applicants who meet minimal requirements. If enacted, it would mark the first time Congress has approved a reduction in overall immigration levels in nearly a century.
“Eliminating the so-called Diversity Visa lottery would be an important first step in restoring integrity, common sense, and a semblance of national purpose to America’s immigration policy,” said Dan Stein, president of FAIR. “By large margins, Americans believe that our immigration policies fail to serve any identifiable national interest and that we are admitting far too many immigrants. Along with the roll-back of 55,000 visas, final approval of H.R. 704 would demonstrate that Congress can critically assess our immigration system and eliminate components that serve no public interest.
“The very existence of the Diversity Visa lottery is an indictment of our legal immigration policy,” Stein noted. “In 1990, Congress admitted that the existing policy was not working effectively and was unfair to people who did not already have family in this country. Unfortunately, rather than reform the system itself, they decided to create an inane add-on that essentially selects new Americans by pulling their names out of a hat. The real way to achieve diversity in our immigration flow is to create a system that selects people based on individual merit, rather than extended family relations, or dumb luck.”
FAIR has consistently supported a comprehensive overhaul of America’s legal immigration policies and significant reductions in overall admissions. The organization was on-record opposing the creation of the Diversity Visa lottery and has repeatedly called for its elimination.
“We need an immigration system that is designed to serve the economic, social and environmental interests of the country in the 21st century. Doing away with the Diversity Visa would be an important first step in a long overdue reassessment of our immigration policy. We hope that the full House will follow the Judiciary Committee’s lead and demonstrate that they have the political will to legislate immigration policy in the public interest,” Stein concluded.