Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let me live here or I'll sue you!

At least it's not quite as audacious as the Mexican-led coalition of Latin American countries suing the state of Georgia for trying to enforce US immigration law that the federal government refuses to enforce:
Dozens of people who were mistakenly told they had won a spot to apply for a U.S. visa through the annual visa lottery system are suing the U.S. government.


Roughly 22,000 individuals were told in May they had been selected though
they would still have to pass background checks. Then immigration officials discovered the supposedly random selection was skewed due to a computer glitch. A new lottery is set for July 15.
Claiming what, that they have suffered emotional distress as a result and need compensation as a result? No, not yet, anyway. The plaintiffs are asking to be reinstated as lotter winners because upon hearing that they were selected, they'd started making appropriate plans. Given that they had only made it partway through the gauntlet, and still had to be among the 50,000 chosen from the nearly 100,000 that would get to the second round alongside them, it's unclear that their cases are compelling, even if the State Department was found to somehow owe these applicants something for getting their hopes.

That said, I wouldn't bet against a new provision hastily being added to the diversity visa lottery program this year that allows all 22,000 of these plus an additional 50,000 winnowed down from the second drawing on July 15th to ultimately be granted visas. Then again, that might then bring some sort of class action suit by all 15 million applicants against the State Department for corrupting the process in the first place.

But those are merely details accompanying the part of the story with much broader implications. I am repeatedly dismayed by public ignorance of the DVL. Very few people with whom I end up talking about it have any previous knowledge of its existence. The reasons I like to bring it up are twofold: 1) it's usually novel information, and 2) you don't have to be much of a restrictionist to quickly realize the program is inane.

Briefly, the DVL, in its present form, was created during Clinton's first term when the Democratic party controlled both houses of Congress. It is explicitly designed to increase the diversity of the immigrant population in the US by precluding countries with relatively high numbers of natives already present here from participating. Around 90,000 initial applicants are randomly selected each year. That number is then cut down by way of some very basic screening (aspiring visa holders need to have graduated from high school, for example) and attrition to arrive at 50,000 winners, who are then rewarded with permanent legal residency in the US. The actual number of people this allows into the country, however, is considerably higher, as winners are permitted to bring their spouses and any children under the age of 21 in with them. Applicants from Oceania and Africa have the best odds of winning.

So, we have 15 million people who would like to live here just from mostly small countries with relatively low numbers of nationals already in the US. This does not include people from countries like, oh, say Mexico, Haiti, China, India, and Canada (indeed, Canadians are forbidden, but Afghanis and Yemenis have a shot), who dwarf the countries these 15 million applicants are coming from. There are a lot of people--billions, probably--who want to come to the US, and part of our brilliant plan is to randomly wave tens of thousands of them on in and keep the others out.

Why not pick the cream of the crop through a merit immigration system along the lines of the one Canadians use, as a way of ensuring that residency is granted only to people who will improve the quality of life for current American citizens, the definition of improvement being decided by the people of the United States, as citizens of a sovereign nation?

This would've been a great question for the seven GOP presidential contenders to be asked in New Hampshire last week, but as John Derbyshire points out:
None of the candidates — nor, to be fair, any of the questions — addressed legal immigration. This is a big hole in current public-policy discussion here in the U.S.A. The only thing candidates ever say about legal immigration is that it's a wonderful thing, it made America great, and by Jiminy they're all for it!

In fact our legal immigration policy is an unsightly mess, with key decisions about the future demographics of our country being made not by citizens or their elected representatives, but by the United Nations, by ethnic-booster and cheap-labor lobby groups, by State Department bureaucrats, and most of all by immigrants themselves through chain migration of brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and adult children. It's a mess and we ought to talk about it; but we seem to have made a collective decision not to, so it's understandable the candidates don't want to bring it up.
Here's to hoping the suit against the State Department "raises awareness" of the DVL so that a "national dialogue" on this absurd program can take place. There are congressmen like Bob Goodlatte of Virginia who have repeatedly tried to end the program, but his efforts (which are not widely known, of course) have not been enough to kill the thing.


Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

Not only inane, AE, but insane. The societal benefits of racial/cultural diversity have never been proven, yet this ideological point d'appui has quietly become public policy.

But does any presidential candidate dare point out this lunacy or even question it? Of course not. He would immediately be branded a racist by the diversity-gulping media (and probably by the other candidates as well), ostracized, and his candidacy would be effectively terminated.

If diversity is the rainbow-hued elephant in the room, questioning the elephant's value is arguably America's greatest political taboo.

Anonymous said...

Here's to hoping the suit against the State Department "raises awareness" of the DVL so that a "national dialogue" on this absurd program can take place.

If you are counting on that happening, I have a bridge to sell you.