The Diversity Visa is Exhibit A proving that there is neither rhyme nor reason to federal immigration policy, at least as far as benefiting the American people. Nothing says "random" like a drawing. After all, Washington wouldn't want to accept any skilled people by mistake and admit that, in some quarters, qualifications still count.
Of course, there is some skills-based immigration permitted (13 percent in FY 2006). And Bill Gates wants unlimited H-1b visas to keep Microsoft humming along. Still, the majority of legal immigrants get here based on family connections—a system that doesn't do much for the average education of the current immigrant crop.
But optimistic foreigners who hope to get lucky and win a freebie pathway to citizenship can sign up online for the Diversity Visa, in the new, modernized raffle. The contest remains a popular one, with 9.1 million entries received last year for the DV-2009 season.
Unfortunately for us Americans, however, problems of fraud, abuse and terrorism have been associated with the program throughout its history. It could hardly be otherwise, given the goal of importing some of the most diverse and dangerous people on earth.
Would it be too much to ask that immigration visa programs not increase the likelihood of admitting terrorists? In 2007, the GAO published a report titled Fraud Risks Complicate State's Ability to Manage Diversity Visa Program.
From page 4 of that document:
"Although none of the officials at State headquarters in Washington or the consular officers at the 11 posts we reviewed considered the DV program to be specifically targeted by terrorists, a few said that difficulties in verifying visa applicants' identity could have security implications."
"Nearly 10,000 people from countries designated as sponsors of terrorism have entered the United States under an immigration diversity program with relatively few restrictions, a report released on Friday said.
"The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the State Department's inspector general warned in 2003 that the Diversity Visa Program posed a significant risk to national security and recommended it be closed to people from countries on the U.S. list of state terrorism sponsors.
"But four years later, the program remains open to people from those nations and little is known about what becomes of them once they enter the United States, the GAO said." [Border Security: Fraud Risks Complicate State's Ability to Manage Diversity Visa Program, PDF ]
Under the Bush Administration's optimistic worldview, the State Department's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism has shrunk from six to a mere four. The remaining exclusive club: Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. (Good work, Condi, for whipping North Korea and Libya into shape!)
You might think a stern wake-up call from the GAO might prompt a modest readjustment in the program.
Not so. Nothing has changed. The visa drawing recently completed includes slots for fortunate individuals from the four remaining State Sponsors of Terror.
Well, surely interviewers will ask really tough questions of visa winners before they are unleashed into America.
Just imagining here...
State Dept. employee: "Are you a terrorist?"
New Diversity Visa recipient: "No."
State Dept. employee: "Well, you're good to go then. Welcome to America!"
Iran in particular is an interesting case. The United States has had no diplomatic relations with the Iranians since 1980 following the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran where 52 diplomats were held hostage for 444 days. There have been no embassies and no official contact. The Presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—punctuated with his threats of nuking Israel to accelerate the apocalyptic coming of the 12th Imam who Shiites believe will rule before the end of the world—has not improved relations either.
If there's one country on earth that has acted most consistently as America's enemy, Iran would be it—most recently supplying training and supplies for the Shiite insurgency against the US efforts at nation-building in Iraq. American soldiers have certainly died as a result of Iranian policies toward Iraq.
Nevertheless, due to the generosity of the State Department, between 2000 and 2006 a total of 3,164 Iranians were granted residency visas via the Diversity program.
For DV-2009, an additional 1,689 Iranians will receive permission to immigrate to America.
All will be able to sponsor in relatives and begin new chain immigration.
What a country!—ours, that is.
Syria, which has been a bad actor on the world stage for decades and is run by the Baath Party (the one favored by Saddam Hussein in Iraq) is the other designated terror supporter from the Middle East. Syria has busied itself recently with destroying the democracy of Lebanon, by assassinating anti-Syrian leaders there.
In short, Syria is not the sort of place where an American would go to recruit agreeable immigrants. But the Diversity Visa program has admitted 162 immigrants from Syria in the years from 2000 to 2006. The number for 2009 is 108.
Sudan is notoriously backward culturally because its tribal Islamist ways. Last year, I wrote (Teddy Bear Jihad: "Religion of Peace" Showing the Love) about a zinger of a situation in which a naive English schoolteacher allowed her young Khartoum class to name a stuffed bear Mohammed—big mistake! A mob of 10,000 angry Muslims demanded she be executed.
In 2000, the Census counted 19,790 Sudan-born persons residing in the United States.
Why must we have any at all? There is no up side to welcoming dangerous, hostile Sudanese for the American people. Of course, not every Sudanese is bent on murderous jihad, but why take a chance? But the diversity-importation machine trundles along, with no easy way to stop it.
"Statistics make it clear that Cubans now believe that although it is considerably longer, the route through Mexico from the tiny village of Cortes and other new launching spots on the western side of Cuba increases their odds of reaching Miami. Almost twice as many—11,487—took it in fiscal 2007, which ended last month, as in fiscal 2005.
"By comparison, the Coast Guard intercepted 2,861 Cubans crossing the Florida Straits in fiscal 2007, and 4,825 others eluded U.S. authorities, reached U.S. soil and applied for residency, according to the Coast Guard." [Cuban immigrants take new route to U.S., by Marc Lacey, San Diego Union-Tribune, October 16, 2007]
But despite no shortage of Cubans in south Florida, no diplomatic relations with Havana and a trade embargo with Castro's Cuba for decades, the United States government invited 555 residents of Cuba to this country under DV-2009—to join the 872,715 Cuban-born residents counted by the Census in 2000.
Who says there's no Santa Claus? It's just that he lives in Foggy Bottom—not the North Pole.
But potential terrorism is just one variety of diversity being delivered up to US neighborhoods by the State Department. Those Americans who admire the literary style of Nigerian spam-scammers may have closer contact: The DV-2009 crop includes 6,041 persons from that charming country (there are precise numbers available for).
But potential terrorism is just one variety of "Diversity" being delivered up to US neighborhoods by the State Department. Those Americans who admire the literary style of Nigerian spam-scammers may have closer contact: The DV-2009 2009 crop includes 6,041 persons from that charming country.
In addition, there are plenty of other rough neighborhoods out there on the diverse planet. Somalia has been a source of trouble for years, from the Mogadishu banana peel Daddy Bush left for new President Clinton in 1993 to the current episode of piracy.
How the Somalis avoided the terror bad-boys list is really curious. Perhaps State figured that the anarchy-ridden region was too disorganized to support anything.
But if so, State was WRONG. The clan-warlord structure apparently has its own genius for mischief, as shown by the present pirate situation in which 14 ships and around 250 crewmen are being held by Somalis.
Interestingly, Somalis get to double dip. They are represented not only as Diversities (256 in DV-2009), but also as refugees,—83,991 in 25 years as toted up by Refugee Resettlement Watch.
All of which leads to the obvious question: How much diversity is enough? Are we there yet?
Likewise troubling is why Washington permits criminal cultures under the cloaking category of diversity.
The government attempts to weed out individual criminals and deport them when they are discovered. (Albeit slowly as in the case of Ethiopian torturer Kelbessa Negewo who was finally repatriated in 2006.
Yet Washington readily admits tens of thousands from Somalia, where the incidence of the brutal torture of little girls from the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is 98 percent—essentially universal.
In 2002, US authorities sought to prevent the entrance of FGM-practicing Somalis with the argument that the cruel custom was illegal. Unfortunately, the effort failed after the State Department backed down—a pity since it would have been a fine precedent against societally sanctioned atrocities which our culture finds appalling.
From a practical viewpoint: America has lost 1.2 million jobs in the last year. We certainly don't need an extra 50,000 foreigners chosen for their "diversity." But immigration policy operates largely on automatic pilot, with no "Off" switch, and against the wishes of the American people.
Our increasingly crowded planet is beset with wars and smaller conflicts based on just those differences we are urged to "celebrate"— religion, ethnicity and culture.
Diversity utopians believe that if we Americans became better acquainted with every culture under the sun, then we would become more tolerant and great peace of kumbaya would prevail.
Diversity is best served with geography. As in, at a distance.