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Committee Approves Bill to Eliminate Visa Lottery

Press Release

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Location: Washington, DC

The House Judiciary Committee today approved the Security and Fairness Enhancement (SAFE) for America Act (H.R. 704), a bill that eliminates the diversity visa program. This program is plagued by fraud and is an open door for terrorists. The bill, sponsored by Intellectual Property Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), was reported favorably to the House floor by a vote of 19-11.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Chairman Bob Goodlatte today praised the Committee vote.

Chairman Smith: "This diversity visa program is better known as the visa lottery since thousands of immigrants are selected at random to receive greencards. Basing our immigration system on the luck of the draw is not smart immigration policy. It's an open invitation for fraud and a jackpot for terrorists.

"While a small number of people who play the lottery actually win the prize, most people lose. With the visa lottery, the American people lose since U.S. immigration policy and national security are compromised."

Chairman Goodlatte: "The visa lottery program poses a national security threat. Under the program, each successful applicant is chosen at random and given the status of permanent resident based on pure luck.

"This flawed policy is just foolish in the age in which we live. Those in the world who wish us harm can easily engage in this statistical gamble with nothing to lose. Our immigration policy should be based primarily on our national needs, security and economics and not in part on an arbitrary system, lacking even minimal checks."

Background: The diversity visa program was created in 1990 to increase diversity in the United States immigrant population by providing up to 55,000 greencard visas per year. Since they were first issued in 1995, over 785,000 diversity visas have been issued. Individuals who receive a diversity visa are free to petition for greencard visas for their family members.

However, the diversity visa program has been flawed from the outset. State Department officials have found the diversity visa program to be plagued by many types of fraud, including marriage and document fraud.

Also, the Government Accountability Office has found the diversity visa program to be an open door for terrorists. Each year, diversity visas are issued to individuals from countries listed as State Sponsors of Terrorism. For the 2011 program, 1,842 Iranians, 553 Sudanese, and 32 Syrians were issued diversity visas.


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