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Trump Looks To Terminate The Diversity Lottery Program

NPR | Co-host Rachel Martin talks to immigration expert Anna Law about the diversity visa lottery program, which could be on the chopping block as lawmakers negotiate immigration policy.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program.

GREENE: The president was speaking after an attack in New York City when a truck plowed through a bike lane and killed eight people. The suspect was an Uzbek immigrant, one of the 50,000 people a year who receive green cards through what is known as the visa lottery. This program started with the sweeping 1965 Immigration Reform Act. That law prioritized immigrants with close family ties and work skills. It put caps on how many people each country could send, and at the time those standards hurt one group in particular, the Irish.

ANNA LAW: They had relatives in the United States, but the relationships were too far away. So a cousin or an aunt can’t really petition you, and they didn’t have the job skills, either. So there was a huge accumulation of illegal Irish. They had come in on a temporary tourist visa and overstayed.

GREENE: That’s the voice of Anna Law, a political scientist at Brooklyn College. She told our co-host Rachel Martin that a few members of Congress devised the diversity lottery in the late 1980s in large part to bring more Irish people to the United States.

LAW: Yeah, it was called the Irish amnesty, and the Italians, also. It was to benefit those two groups. Italians had a slightly different problem. They had the family ties, but it was because we can only let in 20,000 Italians, it was taking years and years for people who were being petitioned by their U.S. brothers and sisters to get into the country. So there was this huge backlog.

RACHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: So what ended up happening with this program? I mean, how has it evolved over time?

LAW: The Irish and Italians eventually lose interest in using this lottery. The economic situation in their countries got better. And also, as EU nations, they had options to travel to other European Union nations to work.

MARTIN: They weren’t so desperate to get to America anymore.

LAW: Right. But in recent years the big beneficiaries have been many African nations and Eastern Europe.

MARTIN: What is the justification for this program today? LAW: It depends on who you ask. A lot of people don’t believe it has a justification and that it’s a very crazy way to run immigration policy. It is not what Trump suggests, that they’re picking numbers out of a hat, but it is a random approach to selecting immigrants.

MARTIN: I mean, we should note that even Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate minority leader, has in the past voted to scrap the diversity visa lottery system. LAW: Right. That was in 2013. He and a bipartisan Senate passed an immigration reform bill. He voted against the lottery. But that bill died in the House.

MARTIN: So do you think that this is where it’s headed now? Do you think that in this debate, since President Trump wants this program cut, that there is an appetite at least among some Democrats to cut the program, that that could be a sacrifice that the Democrats would make to get a deal? LAW: This program has been on the chopping block many different times. The administration is not just interested in cutting undocumented immigration. They also want serious cuts to legal immigration, permanent immigration. So I think I would let this one go. We’re talking 50,000 visas. It’s not a large number.

MARTIN: All right. Anna Law, thanks so much for helping us understand this. LAW: Thanks for having me on the show. GREENE: Anna Law teaches political science at Brooklyn College. She was speaking to Rachel Martin, our co-host on MORNING EDITION.

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  1. If the idea is to make America great again, caution is advised. The DV Lottery program was the work of brains and it has stood the test of time in providing America with brains from around the globe. Killing it may be counterproductive!

    In 2010 President Barack Obama signed into law the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act urging foreign banks to share client information that would have the benefit of a world-wide cooperation on tax evasion. Penalties were spelled out such as 30% tax on income from US sources. A real win-win situation even if it was a bitter pill for Swiss bankers who make a living protecting the identities of their clients, the uber-rich tax evaders and looters of various nations.

    Well, there arose a problem as the US resisted sharing its own banking information even

    • after getting the Swiss to reveal some of those in their tax havens. Nigeria was an unexpected beneficiary as she got back some of the loot stashed away by the late Sani Abacha. America’s lack of fair play may have driven a great idea into a cul-de-sac.

  2. John [email protected] when African and europeans companies pay 38 $ tax on a 252$ doller income that was made in America it will be a level playing field ,but expecting American private or public companies to make profits overseas and pay quasi zero taxes over in those countries (and ignore that fact completely ) then tax them lower than domestic on this pure profit /capital re entry , is definately a lack of fair play ,on top of insulting by then throwing a few pennies back with health/education ( many with zealious religious undertones thrown in ) ‘charity’ via foundations, NGOs that are tax deductable anyway ! Countries need these invited multinationals taxes to backbone their fundemental public programs otherwise their GDP is a pie in the sky.

    • Pal, I sincerely wish I understood you.

      • Sorry sir im not very good at explaing anything at the best of times.

        • @ Phyrne
          You do make an effort. My modest suggestion is that you read over what you write. Better still, let a colleague take a look at it for you.” Petit a Petit l’oiseau fait son nid”, n’ est-ce ce pas?

  3. Trump is doing everything to jolt the Democratic Party’s voting base by restricting immigration. We don’t know what Ambaland is going to do to restrict Cpdm voting caravans from Chad, Gabon, E. Guinea, Dshang, Obala, from overflooding its confines!

    • Why are folks dying to move to the US and is it a solution to whatever?
      The UN, is pretending it is so worried about the influx of cameroonian
      refugees into Nigeria, claiming the number at Imana, has risen to 10,000.
      Should their worry be numbers or stopping the inflow by going to the source
      to tell Mr. Biya to stop his madness on his people?
      Why is Guterres quiet about it? Why is the world turning it`s eye away from
      taking these gangs of useless administrators to task?
      Are Anglophones fighting among themselves or are they fighting with the
      francophones, to confirm Mr. Biya`s carnage on them?
      This war that he has waged and to which Ngole Ngole is out defending, will
      surely end with very bad consequences.