WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is requesting a full-scale review of the Diversity Visa lottery program that has been used by foreign terrorists, human traffickers and fraudsters to immigrate permanently to the United States. The program has received renewed scrutiny following the October 31 terrorist attack in New York City by a Diversity Visa recipient.
The Diversity Visa program sets aside 55,000 visas every year, permitting aliens selected via a lottery system—regardless of their ties to the United States and with minimal qualifications—to apply for an immigrant visa. Each approved applicant may also bring to the United States spouses and children, making the annual total of immigrants who arrive through this program much higher.
The program is susceptible to fraud and many Diversity Visa applicants are from developing nations, where fraudulent documentation may be more readily available and more difficult to verify. As a result, the program has also been exploited by human traffickers and others who make false claims of familial ties in order to permit other foreign nationals to immigrate to the United States. A 2007 Government Accountability Office report raised concerns that widespread use of fake foreign government documents presented a security risk to the United States, and a 2003 State Department Inspector General report underscored risks of granting Diversity Visas to individuals from countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism. Recent events suggest that these and other national security concerns have never been fully resolved.
In a letter last week to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Grassley seeks a full assessment of the Diversity Visa program, including the cost of the program and how the department mitigates risks of fraud and exploitation.
Full text of Grassley’s letter