By Kaitlyn Schallhorn, ,
Published January 15, 2018
As the White House and lawmakers continue to work toward immigration reform, President Trump has remained steadfast in his demands – including an end to a visa lottery program aimed at increasing immigrant diversity.
Aside from the diversity visa program, Trump wants to end chain migration, come up with a solution for the several hundred thousand undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who were brought to the country as minors and increase border security.
The State Department’s diversity visa program is on Trump’s chopping block. The president has accused other countries of selecting “people that they don’t want” for the lottery to come to the U.S.
Here’s a look at the program and how it works.
The diversity visa program allows for immigrants from certain nations, with low immigration rates to the U.S., to come into the country.
These visas are available to countries in six geographical regions, and one country cannot account for more than seven percent of the available visas per year, according to the State Department.
The Immigration Act of 1990 created the program, although it didn’t go into effect into 1995. The program grants about 55,000 visas per year, according to the State Department.
The State Department has a full list of countries eligible for diversity visas here.
Trump told a group of bipartisan lawmakers at the White House early January that ending the diversity visa program was one of a handful of “paramount” measures when it comes to immigration reform.
“Countries come in and they put names in a hopper. They’re not giving you their best names; common sense means they’re not giving you their best names,” Trump said. “They’re giving you people that they don’t want.”
Trump also blasted the program after Sayfullo Saipov, from Uzbekistan, allegedly mowed down pedestrians on a crowded Manhattan bike path in October 2017. Saipov was able to enter the U.S. through the diversity visa program.
The year that Saipov won the lottery, he was one of 3,284 people from Uzbekistan to be granted visas.
Daniel Garza, president of the conservative Libre Initiative, told Fox News that the diversity visa lottery should be “diminished” and a greater focus shifted to merit-based visas.
“Don’t reduce visas but get smarter about how we allocate them,” he said, saying the focus should be on those who can “improve our economy, security and communities.”
After the attack, Trump blamed Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for the program, calling it “a Chuck Schumer beauty.”
As the conservative magazine noted, former President George H.W. Bush would sign the Immigration Act of 1990 – which included diversity visas and other parts of Schumer’s original legislation – but Schumer was not the lead sponsor on the bill's final version.
Schumer also played a part in an effort that would have eliminated the very program. In 2013, Schumer was part of the so-called “Gang of Eight” – a bipartisan group of senators who worked on comprehensive immigration reform – that came up with legislation that would have done away with the program, according to reports at the time.