Nearly 30,000 foreigners from state sponsors of terrorism have gotten visas since 2007 through the diversity visa lottery.
President Donald Trump wants Congress to end the program, which benefits foreigners from nations that don’t have high levels of immigration to the U.S. He increased his public pressure against the program after an Uzbek recipient of the diversity visa lottery allegedly killed eight in a recent terrorist attack in New York City.
Statistics released by the White House Monday show that since 2007 the program has given permanent residence visas — green cards — to 20,739 Iranians, 7,232 Sudanese and 812 Syrians.
The program gives out 50,000 visas annually to immigrants chosen at random.
“One of the main national security weaknesses that experts have identified in the diversity visa program is the lack of restrictions on admissions,” the House Judiciary Committee wrote in a 2004 report.
“First, there are few restrictions on the countries from which applicants may come. … Second, under the program, successful applicants are chosen at random. Consequently, those aliens who win the diversity visa lottery do not necessarily have any ties to the United States. … Because diversity visa winners do not necessarily have such ties, the program could offer an opportunity for individuals or groups who want to harm the United States, its institutions, and its people to place terrorists in the United States. … Any potential terrorist who did win the diversity visa lottery could live here freely, and come and go with little scrutiny.”