The day after the Manhattan terrorist attack, President Trump called for an end to the “diversity lottery” visa program under which the Uzbek immigrant suspected in the attack entered the United States.
The President is right. The diversity lottery program was a poorly conceived plan from its inception, and it is time for it to go.
Here is how the program works: Of the roughly 1 million permanent resident visas issued each year, better known as green cards, 50,000 are granted to random applicants from countries which have seen little immigration to the U.S. over the previous five years. The result? According to Peter Schuck writing in the New York Times: “Lottery winners with little education, job skills, English fluency, and work experience can hit the jackpot and promptly come [or stay] here permanently, while millions of American citizens and legal residents must wait years for their family members to be allowed to join them.”
Most policy discussions are complicated; this one is refreshingly simple. Why, when there is so much talent in the world unable to gain entry or citizenship, would we award 5 percent of those coveted visas on the basis of a very simplistic and sophomoric understanding of diversity?
Immigration is no more good or bad for a country than food is good or bad for a human being. Whether either is likely to benefit or harm the system depends on what and how much is coming in and the needs of the recipient at a given point in time.
Let’s stop talking about immigration in absolutist terms and start coming up with smart policy — policy that is rational, just, and meets the nation’s needs.
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