Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Abolish the diversity lottery

Early reports indicate that Sayfullo Saipov, the terrorist who killed eight people when he drove his truck down a bike path in Lower Manhattan, came to the U.S. by winning the "diversity lottery" -- a program that randomly distributes about 50,000 green cards each year to people from countries that are not major immigrant senders. The incident is a grim reminder of the program's irrationality. I wrote about the lottery in a magazine piece for National Review way back in 2011:
The national-security risk of the lottery is certainly real, but the program is problematic for a more fundamental reason: It does not select for any of the immigrant characteristics that most Americans consider important. The three main kinds of legal immigrants the U.S. currently accepts are people with family members already in the U.S. (66 percent of immigrants in 2010), workers with desirable skills (14 percent), and refugees (13 percent). But the lottery involves no selection at all. It does not make our workforce more skilled, reunite families, or further any humanitarian ends. Its exclusive purpose is to increase the national-origins diversity of immigrants.
It's way past time to abolish this irrational program.

Update: I wrote a new piece for NR on the cold comfort of "dying for diversity":
One terrorist incident by itself does not justify abolishing a program, but it does bring the pointlessness of the lottery into sharp relief. When a refugee commits terrorism, there is perhaps some minor consolation that our heart was in the right place when we brought him here. For all the problems with our refugee program — and there are many — at least it is rooted in our desire to alleviate human suffering around the globe. But Sayfullo Saipov was not invited for any humanitarian reason, nor was he invited to rejoin family members or to apply his specialized skills. He was invited because his name was drawn out of a diversity hat. Cold comfort to his victims, indeed.
Read the whole thing here.

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