- - Wednesday, November 1, 2017


“You can’t win if you don’t play” is the slogan pitched to prospective buyers of lottery tickets, some of whom are put off by the observation of certain mathematicians that your chances of winning the lottery are about the same whether you buy a ticket or not. Prospective immigrants waiting to get into the United States deserve something better than a lottery ticket.

In the wake of the ISIS truck attack in lower Manhattan, which left eight innocents dead, President Trump wants to eliminate the immigration scheme that enabled the suspect caught red-handed and shot by a police officer to enter the country under the terms of the Diversity Visa Lottery, a game of chance dating from 1995.

A vestige of the Immigration Act of 1990, the Diversity Visa Lottery was in part the brainchild of Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the U.S. Senate, when he was a member of the House of Representatives. It’s a grim irony given the slaughter of innocents it would enable in the senator’s home town.

Each year, the U.S. State Department grants visas to 50,000 immigrants from countries that have had relatively low immigration into the United States over the previous five years. Applicants with at least a high school diploma or two years in an occupation that requires training can enter. Winners, many of whom are from African and Caribbean nations, are selected by a computer.

This seems an odd way to run an immigration service. The national security concerns are obvious, made apparent in the blood in the streets of New York. The massacre on the bicycle path is not the first time the Diversity Visa Lottery has enabled terrorism in the United States. The Egyptian husband of a lottery winner once killed two persons in a terror attack at Los Angeles International Airport. Vetting, to say the least, can be improved.

The Diversity Visa Lottery is typical of the government’s bizarre approach to immigration. Immigration should not be organized just to ensure that a portrait of America resemble a rainbow. When deciding whom to take in, the question to be asked is whose presence will most benefit the United States. Diversity should be a natural result of a fair and efficient system, not a national goal.

President Trump is right to urge the elimination of the lottery, and encourage the adoption of the Raise Act, which would eliminate the lottery and move toward a merit-based immigration system. Indeed, Sen. Schumer himself has seen the error of his enthusiasm for artificial diversity and has since advocated elimination of the lottery. The nation should not be at the mercy of chance.

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