California immigration lawyer, Ken White, has sued the State Department after the agency revoked the results of some 22,000 winners of a green card lottery who thought they had hit the immigration jackpot, CNN.com reported Tuesday.
"The so-called diversity visa lottery allows foreigners to submit applications on the State Department website every year," the article said, and "about 15 million people worldwide applied in the most recent drawing, about 50,000 of whom are randomly picked and get a quick path to permanent residency after undergoing interviews and medical exams…. The alternative and most common route to citizenship is through a family member or to be sponsored by an employer."
The United States started the lottery in November 1990 to diversify its population with immigrants from under-represented countries, the article said. People from 13 countries have been ineligible from the start to take part in the program, but there’ve been changes there, too.
--- Critics of the program call it unfair and a security risk.
Wikipedia's article on the subject reported that in December 2005, the United States House of Representatives voted 273-148 to add an amendment to border enforcement bill HB 4437 to abolish diversity visas. Opponents of the lottery said it was susceptible to fraud and was a way for terrorists to enter the country. The Senate never passed the bill.
In March 2007, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced H.R. 1430, which would have eliminated the diversity visa program. The House passed H.R. 2764 to eliminate funding for the program that June, and the Senate did likewise in September, but the final version of this bill with amendments, signed into law on December 26, 2007, did not include the removal of funds for the program.
Goodlatte reintroduced H.R. 1430, as HR 2305, on May 7, 2009, seeking to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act by eliminating the diversity immigrant program completely. That bill apparently died in committee.
This past February, Rep. Goodlatte again introduced legislation seeking to eliminate the program.
"Most family-sponsored immigrants currently face a wait of years to obtain a visa, yet the visa lottery program pushes 50,000 random immigrants with no particular family ties, job skills or education, ahead of (them)," Tuesday's article quoted him as saying. "The very nature of the lottery is such that we have no control over who applies for admission to our country… Those in the world who wish us harm can just as easily engage in this statistical gamble with nothing to lose."