Washington, D.C. – In light of the grievous terror attack in New York earlier this week – perpetrated by a terrorist who entered the country through the Diversity Visa Program – it’s becoming more evident that our flawed immigration system needs to be addressed. Let me start by expressing my heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families who were impacted by this horrific act of violence. I’m keeping all those affected in my prayers, and we need to be mindful of this event as we move forward with our conversations regarding immigration. It is for the sake of these innocent lives that we need to review destructive policies that allow these terrorists to enter our Nation.
The Diversity Visa Program, the lottery through which the terrorist gained a foothold in America, was started in 1990 to encourage legal immigration from “underrepresented” countries, awarding as many as 50,000 green cards per year. Under current policy, the foreign nationals receiving these green cards do not need to have any ties to people in the U.S. and are not required to advance any economic or humanitarian interest. They are simply randomly selected by a computer-generated drawing.
In the nearly 30 years since this ill-conceived immigration policy was enacted, there have been thousands of immigrants selected to come to the U.S. from countries that are listed as state sponsors of terrorism, including Iran. The unfortunate reality is that there have been several attacks caused by immigrants who have come to America through this lottery.
I understand that immigration is not a quick-fix issue, but what I have been advocating for is a merit-based legal immigration system that not only prevents dangerous individuals from coming to our shores, but further ensures that these people are going to be contributing members of society who add unique value to our Nation as a whole. That’s why I introduced H.R. 1149, the Nuclear Family Priority Act, earlier this year.
My bill works to address the compounding problem of chain migration by eliminating extended family visa categories and prioritizing the reunification of spouses and minor children of naturalized citizens and lawful permanent residents. This levels the playing field and clears the way to allow us to focus on an immigration system that values people who bring new skills to our country.
Our current immigration system is rife with problems – stemming from loopholes that allow illegal immigrants to filter into our Nation and dangerous criminals to come here legally. My colleagues and I in Congress, in coordination with President Trump, are actively taking steps to address each of these problems in order to secure our borders and create a safer America.
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