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Immigration Law

Expert: 'No Way' Foreign Governments Can Game the Visa System to Send the 'Worst'

Robert Farley,, Dec. 14, 2017 - "Arguing for a merit-based immigration system, President Donald Trump offered a muddled, inaccurate and unsubstantiated critique of a program that annually provides visas by lottery to qualified and screened applicants from countries with low immigration rates. Trump said that other countries are gaming the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program to “take their worst” and “put them in the bin” so that when the lottery occurs, “they have the real worst in their hands. … And we end up getting them.” There’s no evidence for that. ... In order to be eligible for the lottery, applicants must demonstrate that they have a high school education or its equivalent or “two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.” But that’s not all. If one is selected through the lottery, he or she still has to go through a background security vetting process. “It is a complicated and lengthy process,” explained Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell Law School. “Among other things, the consular officer must make sure the individual is not ‘inadmissible.’ This means that the person has not committed a crime, doesn’t have a serious health problem, isn’t a terrorist, hasn’t committed fraud, and hasn’t overstayed in the U.S. before.” ... [T]here is no evidence to support Trump’s claim of any sort of organized effort by foreign governments to steer their “real worst” to the U.S. “The diversity lottery is a true lottery,” Yale-Loehr told us via email. “There is no way a foreign government can game the lottery to offload the worst of their citizenry.”

Cornell Law Prof. Yale-Loehr