On a day when many were anticipating the tradition of children donning costumes and trick-or-treating in celebration of Halloween, Americans were forced to endure what has become a sickening modern tradition: a murderous attack in a major city, followed by grief and mourning for the victims. An investigation showed that a foreign-born killer took advantage of lax and dangerous immigration laws to enter the country and perpetrate the attack in New York. Open-border advocates in politics and the media vilify those who dare suggest that the laws be changed, and the status quo prevails. This tradition needs to end immediately.
It is a travesty that sixteen years removed from the devastating attacks of 9/11, we are still struggling as a nation to prevent foreigners with bad intentions from entering our country and killing innocent Americans. Sayfullo Habibullaevich Saipov, the alleged perpetrator of the Halloween day attack in New York City, came to the United States from Uzbekistan via the “visa lottery.” The program was created by the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) in 1990 and co-sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to encourage legal immigration from countries that were “underrepresented” in the current immigration flows.
Even after the loss of life in New York, Schumer still stands by his program that has resulted in eight people being killed and eleven injured. In 2006 — with the threats of a post-9/11 world — Schumer gave a full-throated defense of the visa lottery, saying “This is an excellent program. Nobody has said it has done a bad job … We don’t have to stop this program.”
Yes, we do, senator, before any more innocent blood is shed.
The visa lottery awards 50,000 green cards to foreign nationals with absolutely no ties to the U.S. and no special skills, through a computer-generated random drawing. According to the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, almost 1,900 aliens from state sponsors of terrorism were selected in the 2005 visa lottery. Of the top ten source countries for visa lottery immigrants, four were on the Department of Homeland Security’s list of Specially Designated Countries (SDCs) that are said to “promote, produce or protect terrorist organizations or their members.” In 2002 Hesham Mohamed Ali Hedayet, a visa lottery recipient from Egypt, shot and killed two people at Los Angeles International Airport. This is not a program in America’s best interests.
Chain migration is another feature of our immigration system that does nothing to help America and its legal citizens. It allows an immigrant to sponsor several others for admission, who can then sponsor others themselves. After the law was changed to allow for chain migration for the stated purpose of family reunification, the number of immigrants who have entered the U.S. via chain migration has swelled exponentially. While a formal amnesty for illegal immigrants has been debated on Capitol Hill, we already have a de facto amnesty program in the form of chain migration. President Trump announced that Saipov, through chain migration, alone brought 23 family members to the United States with him. Chain migration has deemed over three million immigrants eligible, but many must wait because of category limitations. This has served as a driver for illegal immigration, as these applicants choose not to wait for the U.S. immigration bureaucracy to process them.
Predictably, there has been widespread fraud and abuse associated with both the visa lottery and chain migration. A 2007 Government Accountability Office Report detailed how immigration candidates are exploited by foreign “visa agents” who charge a ransom for applications and arrange sham marriages. There has also been widespread reported use of fake birth certificates, marriage certificates and passports. Allowing a seemingly endless chain of relatives to immigrate here only increases the potential for such corrupt and underhanded practices to continue.
A Pulse Opinion Research poll taken over the summer showed a majority of likely midterm voters support ending the visa lottery. That number is likely to go higher in the wake of the Halloween day attack. All that is required now are leaders in Washington with the conviction to carry out the will of the people.
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) have introduced the RAISE Act, which would, among other objectives, end the visa lottery program and refocus immigration policy in terms of merit, not need. In light of the carnage in his home state, will Schumer and others in his camp see the error of their ways and support legislation that protects American citizens? The time to act is now.
Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.