Monday, November 26, 2012

Maintaining the Diversity Lottery?

In his latest installment on Nation of Immigrators, Angelo Paparelli advocates keeping the diversity visa lottery and not eliminating it in immigration reform. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes 50,000 diversity visas available annually, drawn from random selection among entries of individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The U.S. Department of State's website has more information about its operation.

I am not as sure about the benefits of the "serendipity" of the diversity visa program, which in many ways is a stacked lottery akin to gambling in Las Vegas.  Originally designed to benefit the Irish, the diversity visa program has been criticized for, as Professor Stephen Legomsky (now Chief Counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) put it, being "anti-diversity," see Stephen H. Legomsky, Immigration, Equality and Diversity, 31 COLUM. J. TRANSNT’L L. 319 (1993).  It disqualifies from eligibility prospective immigrants from Mexico, China, India, the Philippines, and other nations that send a steady flow of immigrants to the United States each year (and add to the diversity of the U.S. population).

I guess that what I would hope for is a better justification for keeping the diversity visa program in light of the other national immigration priorities that we must address. 


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