The White House announced this month that from 2007 until 2016, nearly 30,000 people from countries the State Department has designated “State Sponsors of Terrorism” received the green light to come stay in the United States through the much-maligned Visa Lottery program.
“In the last decade, the U.S. issued nearly 30,000 permanent residence visas through the Visa Lottery to randomly selected nationals from countries designated as ‘State Sponsors of Terrorism’ by the State Department,” said the White House in an email. “This does not include the additional tens of thousands of foreign nationals admitted from these countries through other immigration categories (such as family-based immigration, as well as asylee, refugee, and others).”
The three countries were Syria, Sudan, and Iran.
The subject of these visa lotteries, considered a boon for the country’s supposedly-important diversity quotient, has been a controversial one – never more so than after it was revealed that Sayfullo Saipov, the terrorist who killed eight people in New York City on October 31, came to the United States under that very program. Since then, President Trump and many Republicans have vowed to bring an end to the program and the chain migration that turns thousands of immigrants into hundreds of thousands within just a few years.
“President Trump has called on Congress to eliminate the Visa Lottery and end Chain Migration,” the White House said. “These policies endanger national security, strain federal resources, and imperil the economic security of vulnerable American workers.
“Every single year, through a computer-generated random drawing, the Visa Lottery selects 50,000 foreign nationals to apply for permanent residence in the United States and get Green Cards,” the email continued. “Many of them have absolutely no ties to the United States, no special skills, and limited education.”
There are strong arguments for bringing immigration of all kinds to a pause for a few years so our country has a chance to assimilate the millions of people who have arrived over the last couple of decades. But while that type of solution is likely to face stiff challenges on Capitol Hill, there is no excuse for bringing people here…just because. We need a merit-based immigration system that no longer plucks people out of their home countries – many of them terrorist havens – simply because some politician decided we need more Uzbeks or Iranians or Sudanese in the United States. If we need people at all, we need them to be people who can actually contribute something positive to this nation.