Philadelphia, PA USA
If U.S.President Donald Trump has his way, the ending of the immigration lottery program will close the opportunity to hundreds of thousands of African nationals to join family members who are either American citizens or permanent residents in the United States.
The U.S. Diversity Visa Program popularly known as “DV” allows 50,000 people into the U.S. every year under the State Department program, which tilts toward “countries with historically low rates of immigration.”
According to the State Department, the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program, as provided for by law “is to promote immigration from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.” The program is an internet-based “lottery” system that randomly selects individuals from a global pool of eligible entrants and qualifies them to apply for immigrant visas.
Nationals of 53 African countries are eligible to apply fot the 2019 fiscal year. According to the U.S. State Department, natives of the West African country of Nigeria are not eligible to apply for 2019 ” because they are the principal source countries of Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based immigration or “high-admission” countries.”
President Trump’s call to end the DV Program was the direct consequence of the most recent terror attack in New York on Tuesday by an Uzbek national who immigrated to the U.S. in 2010 under the program.
Many African families take advantage of the DV program to re-unite their families in the U.S. and take advantage of the opportunity of realizing the ‘American dream” and a better life.
Diversity visa recipients are given lawful permanent residence status also known as “green card residents” and work permits which then allow them work and live permanently in the U.S. with the eligibility option of become U.S. citizens, if they choose.
According to the Pew Research, a U.S. based fact think tank, quoting the most recent data of fiscal 2015 from the State Department, “…about 12% of the 14.4 million people who applied for the visa lottery were citizens of Ghana (1.7 million)…”
Other African countries are also cited in the data, according to Pew. “In some countries, a marked share of the population has applied for the program. In the Republic of Congo, for example, 10% of the country’s citizens applied for the program in fiscal 2015. Other African countries with high shares of applicants included Liberia (8%), Sierra Leone (8%) and Ghana (7%).”
The Washington Postreports that the DV Program was “originally conceived as a way to help Irish citizens fleeing an economic crisis back home, the only requirement is that entrants be adults with a high school diploma or two years of recent work experience. Winners can bring their spouses and minor children. There is no application fee.
Millions apply each year. Fewer than 1 percent are randomly selected to undergo background checks and receive a green card, which grants them permanent residency in the United States and puts them on a path to American citizenship. There were 11,391,134 applicants in fiscal 2016, the most recent data available…”
Conservatives in the U.S. have targeted the program for years and are currently supporting legislation that favors a “merit-based” immigration system. Since 2005, the U.S. Congress has tried but failed to end the DV Program including cutting off funding, Many conservatives blame an increase in terrorism and violent crime in the US. on immigration laws
In remarks on Wednesday at the White House, the U.S. President who has taken a tough stance on immigration since a candidate in the 2016 Presidential elections said he would ask on Congress “to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program.”
“I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program. It sounds nice. It’s not nice. It’s not good,” Trump said to reporters just prior to a midday Cabinet meeting,
President Trump later tweeted that “We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems.”
Reporting By Emmanuel Abalo
West African Journal Magazine