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House Passes Herseth Sandlin-Goodlatte AMendment To Eliminate Funding For Immigrant Visa Lottery

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC


The U.S. House of Representatives last night passed an amendment introduced by Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D- S.D.) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to stop taxpayer money from funding the Visa Lottery program. This bipartisan amendment was included as part of H.R. 2764, the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for FY2008, and would eliminate funding for this controversial program that annually grants 50,000 visas, allowing a random selection of alien nationals to live permanently in the United States.

Rep. Herseth Sandlin said, "National security is too important to allow institutional randomness at our borders. Eliminating the Visa Lottery will remove an unnecessary and illogical measure of uncertainty from the immigration process. The Visa Lottery sanctions an irresponsible loophole in our immigration process. This common sense change will make our nation safer."

"The Visa Lottery system poses a serious national security threat. Under the program, each successful applicant is chosen at random and given the status of permanent resident based on pure luck," Rep. Goodlatte said. "Usually, immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who have an existing connection with a family member lawfully residing in the United States or with a U.S. employer. These types of relationships help to ensure that immigrants entering the country have a stake in our nation's continued success, and have needed skills to contribute to our nation's economy. However, under the Visa Lottery program, visas are awarded to immigrants at random without meeting such criteria."

The Visa Lottery program is also wrought with fraud, and has spawned a cottage industry featuring sponsors who falsely promise success to applicants in exchange for money. Ill-informed foreign nationals are often willing to pay top dollar for the ‘guarantee' of lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. The Visa Lottery actually discriminates against law-abiding citizens of a number of countries including Mexico, the Philippines, Canada and the United Kingdom who are prohibited from participation in the Visa Lottery because their countries have sent high numbers of immigrants to the U.S.

Rep. Herseth Sandlin and Rep. Goodlatte led a similar effort in the 109th Congress to pass legislation eliminating the Visa Lottery out of the House as part of the House immigration bill; however, the legislation stalled in the Senate. The State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for FY2008 will be referred to a Conference Committee with the Senate.

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