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Immigration Law

Expert: 'Second Thoughts' About Diversity Visa Lottery

Lomi Kriel, Houston Chronicle, Jan. 3, 2018 - "Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration law professor at Cornell University, said that despite Trump's claims, no government or even individual can game the system since it is a true lottery. Until recently Yale-Loehr was a critic of the program. In November, he told The New York Times that a lottery is a "crazy way to run an immigration system ... No other country selects immigrants based on a lottery."

But in December, Yale-Loehr published an op-ed in the New York Daily News arguing that recipients of the diversity visa are, in fact, not less skilled than other immigrants.

Citing a 2011 report from the Congressional Research Service, he said a higher percentage of immigrants who entered the United States through the diversity visa program had managerial and professional occupations in 2009 than green card holders overall, about one-quarter compared to 10 percent. They had a lower unemployment rate - 3 percent - relative to the 8 percent of all recipients that year.

Recent Department of Homeland Security data shows that about a third of those who came through the diversity visa program in 2015 were employed in management or professional occupations, compared to the 12 percent who received their green cards through relatives.

"Philosophically, you would think you could do a better job of picking people to come to the United States through important criteria, like people who have a unique talent, or are very smart, rather than just through a lottery," Yale-Loehr said. "But after I looked at these statistics, and I saw that diversity visa lottery people are pretty much gainfully employed with a very low unemployment rate, I am now having second thoughts."

He said it helps bring a diverse pool of immigrants to the United States, noting that few people from Africa or certain Asian countries have family members here who can sponsor them and finding employers to do so is largely impossible because of the overwhelming demand, and their lack of connections."