Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement Hearing on H.R. 704, "The SAFE for America Act"

Statement

By:  Elton Gallegly
Date: April 5, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Good afternoon.

The issues raised by H.R. 704, the "SAFE for America Act," go to the core of any immigration debate -- that is the integrity of U.S. immigration policy.

H.R. 704 eliminates the visa lottery program under which 50,000 individuals are chosen completely at random each year to receive immigrant visas.

The visa lottery, first implemented in Fiscal Year 1995, has long been a subject of concern for those of us who believe it important to have a credible immigration system.

The program is rife with fraud. That was the case in 2003 when the State Department's Inspector General found that, "The DV program is subject to widespread abuse."

That was the case in 2004 and 2005 when two different State Department Inspectors General testified in front of this Subcommittee about the fraud in the program.

That was the case in 2007 when the Government Accountability Office issued a report stating that, "The DV program is vulnerable to fraud committed by and against DV applications …."

And that is still the case today -- when we will hear testimony about the high levels of fraud in the program.

Even the State Department acknowledges the high rate of deception throughout the visa lottery. In fact the websites for many of the U.S. Embassies around the world include diversity visa program "fraud alerts" like the one on the poster here. This particular alert is on the website of the London Embassy, but there are similar alerts on other U.S. Embassy websites.

And why is fraud such a concern? Because terrorists use our generous immigration policy to harm us. And terrorists have already used the visa lottery as a means of entering this country.

The Egyptian terrorist who murdered two Americans at LAX in 2002 was a diversity visa recipient when his wife was selected for the lottery.

And a Pakistani national who received a diversity visa when his parents were selected for the lottery, pleaded guilty in 2002 to conspiring to wage jihad by plotting to destroy electrical power stations, the Israeli consulate, and other South Florida targets. He had reportedly told his friends that he wanted to wage war against the United States.

But terrorists are not the only people who abuse the visa lottery. We will hear testimony today about foreign organized crime groups who try their own luck at the lottery.

And visa lottery applicants and third party "brokers" all try to -- and do -- game the system. The visa lottery gives them a great shot at winning.

U.S. immigration policy should be based on something more than just luck of the draw.

It should be secure. And it should be beneficial to Americans. The visa lottery program is neither.

I am glad to be an original cosponsor of the Gentleman from Virginia's bill, Mr. Goodlatte, and I look forward to moving H.R. 704 toward enactment.