Following Monday’s New York City subway attack, the Trump administration is amplifying its push to end chain migration and the visa lottery. The administration is standing united after officials reported that the suspect, 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, came to the United States from Bangladesh in 2011 under the most remote chain migration visa category, originating from his aunt’s lottery visa.
On December 8, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Francis Cissna called for immigration reform that ends chain migration and the visa lottery in an op-ed. “When considering who to invite into our country as immigrants, our nation should focus on people’s merit: their skills, education and what they can contribute. Not luck or lotteries,” Cissna wrote.
Cissna explained that immigrant lottery winners are chosen at random. He also noted that foreign nationals from countries that are state sponsors of terrorism are allowed to apply for the lottery, which awards 50,000 green cards annually. Once a lottery winner receives a green card, they are immediately able to start sponsoring other family members, who, in turn, may sponsor their own extended family members. After five years, a lottery winner is eligible to become U.S. citizen, enabling them to then sponsor an even wider range of distant relatives.
“Over time, the combination of the diversity visa program and the laws allowing extended family migration result in the admission of hundreds of thousands of immigrants without any assessment of whether their job skills meet any sort of U.S. economic need and without any consideration of the immigrants’ age, education, English language ability, or close connection to the United States,” said Cissna. “In the years since 9/11, multiple diversity visa immigrants have perpetrated or been convicted of terrorism-related acts in the United States,” he continued.
President Trump issued a statement shortly following yesterday’s attack. The president urged Congress to prioritize national security and immigrants who are able to contribute to the economy over immigrants who have little to no ties to the United States. “Today’s terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security,” Trump stated. “The terrible harm that this flawed system inflicts on America’s security and economy has long been clear. I am determined to improve our immigration system to put our country and our people first,” he added.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is also supporting ending chain migration and the visa lottery. In a statement, Sessions echoed the president’s call for reforms. “The President is exactly correct about the changes we need to our immigration system. We have now seen two terrorist attacks in New York City in less than two months that were carried out by people who came here as the result of our failed immigration policies that do not serve the national interest—the diversity lottery and chain migration,” Sessions stated.
FAIR urges its members to contact their members of Congress and urge them to end chain migration and eliminate the visa lottery. It is time for Congress to prioritize the interests and safety of American citizens.