A necessary aspect of immigration is applying for citizenship, the first legal step an individual can take to assimilate into American culture. There are currently three types of visas for immigrants intending to take up permanent address in the U.S.; they can be found on the government website, here. In addition to the more typical application-driven paths of obtaining a legal visa, there is another popular option: the “Diversity Visa Program.” Also known as the “Green Card Lottery,” this program randomly selects names from a pool applicants to whom visas are then issued. According to the government website, this program has “strict eligibility requirements,” but upon investigation of the site, I found that the only real requirement an applicant must have is based on work or education–individuals must have at least a high school education or “two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years- training or experience.”
I think the very fact that this sort of program exists suggests America’s acceptance of immigrants and desire to achieve diversity within its borders. Not all foreigners wishing to enter the country and stay have family or a spouse that live in the U.S., so I think it’s only fair that there is a method to becoming a citizen that places entrants on an equal level. Yet many people claim that randomly allowing people to migrate here could give rise to crime and terrorism. As such, many people, including certain government officials think that such a program is a burden for many reasons (taken from a 2004 report from the Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims):
1. It requires work that the government could be investing elsewhere to process the large volume of entires.
2. It allows and perhaps encourages illegal immigration by giving illegal immigrants a method of legally obtaining citizenship (if they wait long enough for their entry to be chosen).
3. It increases fraud.
4. It promotes terrorism, or at least provides a means for terrorists to enter and stay in the country.
5. It serves no higher purpose, as “There is no humanitarian reason to admit people based on luck.”
This last statement in particular suggests strong modern-day prejudices some Americans harbor regarding immigration. I think it also highlights the idea of American Exceptionalism, in which some Americans believe that America is unique from other countries and can act accordingly. This way of thinking promotes the idea that America has no duty to admit foreigners, no matter what they they may have to offer the country nor should they because to do so would disrupt the current fabric of America.
Does the Diversity Visa Program/Green Card Lottery promote acceptance of immigrants or promote prejudice? Should we keep this popular program or get rid of it and thus restrict our borders even more?
sources: http://judiciary.house.gov/legacy/camarota042904.pdf (report)