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  6. We Need to End Unchecked Chain Migration and Eliminate the Reckless Visa Lottery to Secure the Nation and Protect the American Worker

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In an effort to keep DHS.gov current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.

We Need to End Unchecked Chain Migration and Eliminate the Reckless Visa Lottery to Secure the Nation and Protect the American Worker

Release Date: February 15, 2018

Our current immigration system does not protect American workers or our economy.

  • The United States currently admits 1.1 million immigrants per year. That is more than the population of San Francisco or Indianapolis every year.
  • Currently, 70 percent of legal immigration into the United States is based on family relations, while only 1 in every 15 legal immigrants—less than seven percent—are admitted to the United States based on skill or employment.

End Chain Migration

  • Under our current law, a single immigrant can sponsor numerous relatives to come to the United States as lawful permanent residents.
  • Each family member of the original immigrant who came to the United States as a lawful permanent resident can, in turn, sponsor relatives once they become a citizen.
  • The result is known as chain migration because each new immigrant can sponsor his or her own extended family members, who ultimately have little connection to the original immigrant.
  • Academic research has found each immigrant on average sponsors 3.45 additional family members for green cards.
  • Between 2005 and 2016, the United States permanently resettled 9.3 million immigrants based on family relations—a population larger than the size of Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and Cleveland combined.
  • Chain Migration, which has been the primary source of low-skilled legal immigration into the United States, has depressed wages and job opportunities for comparably skilled American workers. This has had a profoundly negative impact on African American and Hispanic workers in particular. It is for that reason that famed Civil Rights leader and late Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Jordan called for ending Chain Migration in the mid-1990s.

Cancel the Outdated Visa Lottery

  • The visa lottery system admits 50,000 immigrants a year, many who have no existing connections to our country, minimal education, and no job offers.
  • At the time of submitting their visa application, selectees are only required to have a high school education or two years of work experience at the time of submitting their visa application.
  • This program is susceptible to fraud and has been exploited by national security threats. It does not advance our interests.
  • Past reports show that the visa lottery system has a long history of fraud and abuse. 
  • A report published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2007 found that the visa lottery system was vulnerable to fraud committed by and against lottery applicants.
    • The GAO report found difficulties in verifying applicant identities, which raised serious security concerns.
    • At some of the consular posts they reviewed the majority of visa lottery applicants had hired “visa agents” to enter the lottery.
  • In 2003, the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) authored a report that found the program was subject to widespread abuse.
    • The OIG found that despite restrictions against duplicate visa lottery submissions, thousands of duplicate submissions were detected each year.
    • The report asserted that identity fraud was endemic in the system and that it was commonplace for applicants to use fraudulent documents.
  • From 2007 to 2016, the United States admitted nearly 30,000 individuals that originated from countries designated as “State Sponsors of Terrorism” through the visa lottery system. This is a direct threat to our national security.
Last Updated: 01/20/2021
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