State Department: America’s Admitted Nearly 30,000 People From Terror-Sponsoring Countries Under “Visa Lottery” Program Since 2007
According to State Department data, since 2007 some 28,783 people from terror-sponsoring nations received visas to enter the US via the “diversity visa lottery” program.
Specifically, the US admitted 20,739 individuals from Iran, 7,232 from Sudan, and 812 from Syria under the program. Note that these three countries are the only ones flagged by the State Department as “state sponsors of terrorism.” As such, it’s very likely that people from other dangerous states like Somalia, Libya, or Yemen benefited from the program.
The visa lottery works exactly as one might expect: a computer randomly selects 50,000 visa applicants annually from countries with otherwise low immigration rates. For example, someone from China or Canada (countries with high immigration rates to the US) would never benefit from the lottery. Someone from Azerbaijan would.
The program dates back to 1990, and was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who was then a member of the House, and passed with bipartisan support in Congress.
The animating logic behind the bill was, quite simply, that diversity is a strength—there is nothing more to it than that.
If this sounds like a bad idea, it is. Randomness is never an appropriate selection method unless there is not enough data to make an informed and calibrated decision. In the case of people seeking green cards and residency status, there is always adequate information.
National origin can tell immigration officials a lot about a pool of applicants (note: one should avoid reasoning from the general to the specific, that is from a statistical group to an individual, but may rightly apply statistics to groups of people).
For example, data from Pew Research tells us that people from places like Iraq or Afghanistan are very likely to support Sharia law, and be sympathetic to Islamic extremist groups. Given that fact, it is reasonable to vet applicants from such countries more stringently than those from other Western nations.
To this end, President Trump has greatly reduced the number of refugees entering America by 87 percent, and increased the proportion of Christians admitted relative to Muslims.
Unfortunately we will need to wait on Congress for substantive legislation reform. It could be a long time coming.