Time To Dump The Diversity Visa
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Imagine the most intellectually indefensible policy in the most corrupt area of government and you've got the diversity visa—a program by which some 55,000 foreigners annually win admittance to the United States through a lottery.

A lottery! Can you think of a better way to devalue American residence than by making it dependant on sheer dumb luck?

The House of Representatives is finally looking critically at this turkey. There's a bill in the hopper (Rep. Bob Goodlatte's H.R. 775) that would end it. Recently, the House Committee on Immigration considered the peculiar policy's fraud and terrorism potential by inviting a panel of experts to share their thoughts.

That the Committee held a hearing is a good sign that the bill might be brought up for a vote. (You can watch a webcast of the hearing on the Immigration Committee's site.)

The basis for this policy is the fashionable but foolish notion that diversity is the highest good. Therefore the United States should open its national door to "underrepresented" nations. We are supposed to believe that American diversity is truly deeply enriched by receiving an additional 31 Paraguayans, 8 Botswanans and 2819 Togoans. (These curious 2004 numbers show the inscrutable diversity calculation as churned out by the State Department.)

Not only has the visa lottery been a bad idea since its beginning in 1995, its implementation has been an embarrassment even to clueless Washington.

Obvious problems include:

  • National security. You might think that simple prudence after 911 would have dictated a cutback on applicants from known enemies of the United States. Not so! Persons from terror-supporting nations, as defined by the State Department, are still in the mix—including 3,380 for this year's slots. One of those terror strongholds: Iran, currently engaged in building the second Islamic nuke. (Pakistan built the first.) It was allotted 1,431 visas in 2004.

It's likely that only Darwin-award level would-be terrorists will be spotted, like the Jakarta terrorists who blew themselves up with their own grenade , or the Palestinian who exploded during a mugging.

And why take the chance anyway? It is a dangerous arrogance to believe that all bad guys can be detected and kept out.

We have already had an infamous terrorist arrive via the lottery: Hashem Mohamed Hadayet, an illegal alien transformed into a permanent resident with his wife's luck of the draw.

In July 4, 2002, Hadayet opened fire on the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles Airport. Before being taken down by the chief of security, Hadayet wounded several people and killed Yaakov Aminov, a 46-year-old businessman, and 25-year-old Victoria Hen, an El Al employee. Hen's death was particularly tragic: her parents and boyfriend were planning a surprise party the very next day at which he would formally propose to her.

Other terrorists welcomed into America via lottery include Karim Koubriti and Ahmed Hannan, both Moroccans who were convicted in a sleeper cell trial in Detroit last year.

"Moreover, there is strong anecdotal evidence that many people send in more than one application using different names in an effort to increase their chances of winning. It is partly for this reason that so many 'winning' entries are eventually thrown out. The whole process makes a mockery of attempts to apply even the most minimal of requirements."  

At 7,145 visas this year, Nigeria is one of the biggest diversity-lottery beneficiaries. But it is also rated as one of the planet's most corrupt countries—no small accomplishment—making it probably not the best place to hold a raffle.

As well as being famous for the unique literary quality of its email scams aimed at credulous Americans, Nigeria has an ongoing low-intensity civil war between Muslims and Christians. Remember the Miss World fiasco of 2002? More than 200 Nigerians died in Muslim rioting after an insufficiently sensitive journalist noted that Mohammed could have chosen a fine trophy wife for his collection from the many sumptuous gals in competition.

In northern Nigeria, some areas have instituted the extreme Islamist sharia law. Sharia is not supposed to affect Christians, but there have been deadly skirmishes over beer: Muslims have burned down liquor stores, while beer drinkers have stoutly defended for their right to live as infidels. In sharia zones, women's social standing rates at Taliban levels—for example, Zamfara, where women are not permitted to ride on the same buses as men. Criminal justice is brutal. The theft of a goat may bring amputation. And the influence of fundamentalist Islam is on the uptick in Nigeria.

But more than 7000 Nigerians will be given green cards this year. Some may be making their new homes in your town.

  • Importing homegrown conflicts. For example, the Vietnam War seems to have flared up ahmong the Hmong. Those who favor more openness toward communist Laos are battling it out with hard-core anti-com Hmong on the streets of St. Paul and Minneapolis. There have been drive-by shootings and firebombing but no deaths—yet.
  • Cultural incompatibility. It's too bad that the Immigration Subcommittee did not investigate the cultural rot that is imported through the diversity visa. The visa lottery welcomes cultures in which the societal norms include slavery (e.g. Sudan—1,183 diversity visas for 2004), female genital mutilation (Ethiopia, where the incidence of FGM is 90 percent—6,353 visas), arranged marriage for children (Bangladesh—5,126 visas) and honor killing (Jordan—125 visas).

We all know that diversity is strength—but it's also honor killing and child marriage.

Speaking of Jordan—the alleged murderer of Nick Berg is a native of that country. A voice analysis of the man who beheaded Berg suggests that the killer is terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Americans often parrot an appreciation for diversity. But they are usually thinking about the latest Brazilian pizza or the best sake to have with tacos—not the reality of culturally-ensconced brutalities.

But who can blame ordinary folks when the media and other elite thought-mongers refuse to connect the obvious dots and conclude that multiculturalism is a fundamentally wrong policy?

If diversity is so wonderful, then millions of people around the world would not be killing each other over differences of race, religion, ethnicity and culture—just those qualities we are supposed to celebrate.

Even for those who think that increased diversity in immigration is a good idea, the lottery approach doesn't pass the cost-benefit test. There is an enormous amount of bureaucracy involved for adding those 55,000 people every year—a tiny drop in the million-plus human tsunami entering the U.S annually. And not much actual diversity, considering the big picture of nearly 300 million Americans.

If we want to increase the relative diversity of our immigrant stream, we might try ending all Mexican immigration—currently 30 percent of the total.

Think about it.

Brenda Walker [email her] lives in Northern California and publishes LimitsToGrowth and ImmigrationsHumanCost. She admits she loves sushi.

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