US President Donald Trump, in reaction to the Islamic related terror attack in New York on Tuesday afternoon, said he will ask Congress to terminate the Diversity Visa Program (DVP) under which the Uzbek terrorist was granted a green card (through the lottery system) to settle in America. If this were to happen, many countries, including Guyana, would be impacted restricting the kind of immigrants that come to the US. So many would-be immigrants have high hopes of entering the US through this visa lottery programme because they have no relatives to sponsor them to get a green card, and it is a very fast way to get a green card. I have helped individuals from several countries to come to the US through the visa lottery programme and they are all model citizens. The President has overreacted to this terror incident because DVP has not been abused to allow unwanted immigrants into the country. It is just a coincidence that the terrorist came into the US through DVP. There are many terror related killings in the US carried out by American born. Should they or their family be expelled from the country?
Terrorists or bad people can enter the US through a variety of visa programmes. In fact, because of very strict prerequisites and thorough investigation of the background of DVP beneficiaries, it is very difficult for terrorists to get a visa through the programme. Yes a bad guy can slip through the programme as has turned out to be the case regarding the latest Manhattan terrorist of Uzbek Muslim descent. But many bad guys have entered the US through other visa programmes. The terrorists who planned and or executed the 9/11 attacks came through a student visa programme. Other terrorists came through a visitor visa programme.
Many Guyanese and other West Indians have been beneficiaries of the DVP that grants a permanent green card visa which qualifies them for US citizenship after five years of residency. The DVP gives citizens of countries of low green card visa allotments an opportunity to enter into a raffle for a green card visa. They don’t need family sponsorship to enter the raffle. And any adult without a criminal record can apply for it. If someone wins the raffle, he or she can enter the US with spouse and minor children providing the winner meets minimum requirements and would not be a financial burden on the state. There are very stringent requirements. The programme was created by Congress to allow for immigrants of diverse ethnicity to settle in the US. Historically, US immigration has been dominated by Western Europeans. So the DVP has been created to give some balance to other regions inhabited by non-Whites. It is welcomed by minorities around the globe giving them an opportunity to come to America. It is too bad that a minority who benefited from the programme has been linked to a terror-related crime to give all DVP beneficiaries a bad image.
But President Trump has overreacted in announcing that he would seek to end the diversity visa programme because one recipient out of over half a million beneficiaries has turned out to be an Islamic terrorist. Ending DVP would not keep out terrorists from entering the US. There are a variety of visa programmes allowing bad people to enter the US. In fact, almost all of the foreign terrorists who committed criminal acts came into the US through a visitor visa or student programme. Will those programmes also be terminated to keep out would be terrorists?
Ending DVP will not provide any greater security to Americans. What needs to happen is the immigration department (ICE) must undertake greater investigation into the background of all prospective recipients of US visas. This will help to weed out the bad guys. President Trump should reconsider his advocacy of ending DVP in favour of merit-based immigration based on financial investment and technical skills. Prospective immigrants should not be punished because of the action of one bad guy.