Another sign of autumn, along with shorter days and a chill in the air, is the annual Diversity Visa drawing, being held this year from Oct. 2, 2008 to Dec. 1 for at least 50,000 slots. The program is a prime example that there is neither rhyme nor reason to US immigration, at least as far as benefiting the American people. Nothing says random like a drawing. Washington wouldn't want to accept any skilled people by mistake and admit that qualifications still count in some quarters.
Of course, there is some skills-based immigration permitted (13 percent in FY 2006) and Bill Gates wants unlimited H-1b visas to keep his little business humming along. Still, the majority of legal immigrants get here based on family connections -- a system that doesn't do much for the average education of the current crop.
Anyway, optimistic foreigners who hope to get lucky and win a freebie pathway to citizenship can sign up online for the Diversity Visa, in the new, modernized raffle. The contest remains a popular one, with 9.1 million entries received last year for the DV-2009 season.
Unfortunately for us citizens, however, the problems of fraud, abuse and terrorism have been associated with the program throughout its history. It could hardly be otherwise, given the goal of importing some of the most diverse and dangerous people on earth.
Would it be too much to ask that immigration visa programs not increase the likelihood of admitting terrorists? In 2007, the GAO published a report titled Fraud Risks Complicate State's Ability to Manage Diversity Visa Program.
From page 4 of that document:
Although none of the officials at State headquarters in Washington or the consular officers at the 11 posts we reviewed considered the DV program to be specifically targeted by terrorists, a few said that difficulties in verifying visa applicants’ identity could have security implications.A Reuters article dated Sept 21, 2007, noted the GAO report's disturbing numbers and painful amount of stupidity: U.S. admits nearly 10,000 from "terrorism" states.
Nearly 10,000 people from countries designated as sponsors of terrorism have entered the United States under an immigration diversity program with relatively few restrictions, a report released on Friday said.Under the Bush Administration's optimistic worldview, the State Department's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism has shrunk from six to a mere four under its efforts. The remaining exclusive club consists of Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. (Good work, Condi, for whipping North Korea and Libya into shape!)
The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the State Department's inspector general warned in 2003 that the Diversity Visa Program posed a significant risk to national security and recommended it be closed to people from countries on the U.S. list of state terrorism sponsors.
But four years later, the program remains open to people from those nations and little is known about what becomes of them once they enter the United States, the GAO said.
One could hope a stern wake-up call from the GAO that warned about Diversity terrorists might prompt a modest readjustment in the program. Not so. Nothing has changed. The visa drawing currently underway includes slots for fortunate individuals from the four remaining State Sponsors of Terror. Well, surely interviewers will ask really tough questions of visa winners before they are unleashed into America.
Just imagining here...
State Dept. employee: "Are you a terrorist?"Iran in particular is an interesting case. The United States has had no diplomatic relations with the Iranians since 1980 following the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran where 52 diplomats were held hostage for 444 days. Since then there have been no embassies and no official contact. The Presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- punctuated with his threats of nuking Israel to accelerate the apocalyptic coming of the 12th Imam who Shiites believe will rule before the end of the world -- has not improved relations either.
New Diversity Visa recipient: "No."
State Dept. employee: "Well, you are good to go then. Welcome to America!"
If one were to choose the one nation on earth that has acted most consistently as America's enemy, Iran would be it -- most recently supplying training and supplies for the Shiite insurgency against the US efforts at nation building in Iraq. American soldiers have died as a resullt of Iranian pollicies toward Iraq. Nevertheless, due to the generosity of the State Department, between 2000 and 2006 3,164 Iranians were granted residency visas via the Diversity drawing. For DV-2009, an additional 1,689 Iranians will receive permission to immigrate to America.
What a country. Ours, that is.
The other designated terror supporter of the Middle East is Syria, which has been a bad actor on the world stage for decades, run by the Baath Party (the one favored by Saddam Hussein in Iraq). Syria has busied itself recently with destroying the democracy of Lebanon, by assassinating anti-Syrian leaders there.
In short, Syria is not the sort of place where an American would go to recruit agreeable immigrants. But the Diversity Visa program has admitted 162 from Syria in the years from 2000 to 2006. The number for 2009 is 108.
Over in Africa, terror-supporting Sudan got 1,143 diversity visas for 2009 in addition to the 3,703 people admitted from 2000 to 2006.
Sudan also might be considered somewhat backward culturally for its tribal Islamist ways. Last year I wrote about a zinger of a situation in which a misguided English schoolteacher allowed her young Khartoum class to name a stuffed bear Mohammed -- big mistake! A mob of 10,000 angry Muslims demanded she be executed: Teddy Bear Jihad: "Religion of Peace" Showing the Love.
Another cultural indicator is the stubborn continuation of slavery in Sudan. And Darfur, where a horrific genocide is continuing, is a region of Sudan.
In 2000, the Census counted 19,790 Sudan-born persons residing in the United States. Why must we have any at all? There is no up side to welcoming dangerous, hostile Sudanese for the American people. Of course, not every Sudanese is bent on murderous jihad, but why take a chance? The diversity-importation machine trundles along, with no easy way to stop it.
Further confounding is the idea that the US requires more Cubans. They keep coming to America, both in the traditional way across the Atlantic toward Miami and more frequently through Mexico.
Statistics make it clear that Cubans now believe that although it is considerably longer, the route through Mexico from the tiny village of Cortes and other new launching spots on the western side of Cuba increases their odds of reaching Miami. Almost twice as many – 11,487 – took it in fiscal 2007, which ended last month, as in fiscal 2005.Despite no shortage of Cubans in south Florida, no diplomatic relations with Havana and a trade embargo with Castro's Cuba for decades, the United States government invited 555 residents of Cuba to this country under DV-2009, to join the 872,715 Cuban-born residents counted by the Census in 2000.
By comparison, the Coast Guard intercepted 2,861 Cubans crossing the Florida Straits in fiscal 2007, and 4,825 others eluded U.S. authorities, reached U.S. soil and applied for residency, according to the Coast Guard. [Cuban immigrants take new route to U.S., San Diego Union-Tribune, by Marc Lacey, October 16, 2007]
Who says there isn't a Santa Claus? It's just that he lives in Foggy Bottom, not the North Pole.
But potential terrorism is just one variety of diversity being delivered up to US neighborhoods by the State Department. Those Americans who admire the literary style of Nigerian spam-scammers may have closer contact: The DV-20092009 crop includes 6,041 persons from that charming nation (there are precise numbers available for).
In addition, there are plenty of other rough neighborhoods out there on the diverse planet. Somalia has been a source of trouble for years, from the Mogadishu banana peel Daddy Bush left for new President Clinton in 1993 to the current episode of piracy. How the Somalis avoided the terror bad-boys list is curious -- perhaps State figured that the anarchy-ridden region was too disorganized to support anything.
However, the clan-warlord structure apparently has its own genius for mischief, as shown by the present pirate situation in which 14 ships and around 250 crewmen are being held by Somalis.
Interestingly, Somalis get to double dip, and are represented not only as diversities (256 in DV-2009), but also as refugees, 83,991 in 25 years as toted up by Refugee Resettlement Watch.
It leads to the obvious question: How much diversity is enough? Are we there yet?
Likewise troubling is why Washington permits criminal cultures under the cloaking category of diversity. The government attempts to weed out individual criminals and deport them when they are discovered -- albeit slowly as in the case of Ethiopian torturer Kelbessa Negewo who was finally repatriated in 2006.
Yet Washington readily admits tens of thousands from Somalia where the incidence of the brutal torture of little girls known as female genital mutilation (FGM) is 98 percent, practically universal. In 2002, US authorities sttioned in Africa sought to prevent the entrance of FGM-practicing Somalis with the argument that the cruel custom was illegal. Unfortunately, the effort failed after the State Department backed down from the high road of moral clarity against egregious cruelty, a pity since it would have been a fine precedent against societally sanctioned atrocities which our culture finds appalling.
From a practical viewpoint, this country has lost 1.2 million jobs in the last year, and we certainly don't need an extra 50,000 foreigners chosen for their "diversity." But most immigration operates largely on automatic pilot, with no Off switch, and against the wishes of the American people.
Our increasingly crowded planet is beset with wars and smaller conflicts that are based on just those differences we are urged to celebrate — religion, ethnicity and culture. Diversity utopians believe that if we Americans were forced to become more closely acquainted with every culture under the sun, then we would become more tolerant and great peace of kumbaya would prevail. It hasn't worked out that way in the most multicultural state, California. Not at all.
Diversity is best served with geography; that is, at a distance.
Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She opines that not all diversity is equal.