Immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk – Pace Immigration: The current efforts in Congress to change U.S. immigration laws through a comprehensive immigration reform package include many good initiatives that are long overdue.
Addressing the problem of some 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States by finding a path to citizenship, while correcting some deficiencies in the current legal regime in areas like H1B visas, and family based immigration, all merit approval. However, there is one aspect of comprehensive immigration reform that appears misguided, and it is my hope it will not succeed. That effort is to abolish the diversity green card lottery.
The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a lottery program mandated by the US Congress. It allows people to receive permanent residence in the United States. It is known as simply the Green Card Lottery. The program is administered under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Each year, it makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas to citizens of countries that have low rates of immigration to the United States. The lottery started in 1995, and was designed to diversify the immigrant population in the United States. It does this by selecting applicants mostly from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States in the previous five years.
Promoting the diversity of the American population is worthwhile, because
it ensures a stream of people with different ideas and backgrounds who
will contribute to the American dream.
The key to the program is diversity. When the program began, civil rights attorneys in the United States noted that, statistically speaking, the immigrant population pouring into the United States was dominated by immigrants from certain countries, while immigrants from other countries were virtually unrepresented in the numbers. To maintain American diversity, a program to instill diversity into the immigrant stream was needed.
What is so beautiful about the program is the fact that this is the only U.S. immigration program that makes it possible for an average person from one of the under represented countries of the world to apply, and possibly win, an opportunity to immigrate to the United States.
Promoting the diversity of the American population is worthwhile, because it ensures a stream of people with different ideas and backgrounds who will contribute to the American dream. It is this mix of people that promises America the best for the future. Many such diversity immigrants have settled in the United States and contributed to this country’s growth and development. It makes little sense to abolish such a worthy and effective program.
For these reasons I encourage all stakeholders in the immigration reform discussion to support the diversity green card lottery program, and defend it against attempts to abolish it.