Yes, security is a priority. Diplomatic outreach should be one, too.
After reports that the accused perpetrator of Tuesday’s violent vehicle attack in New York City entered the United States via a visa “lottery,” the Diversity Immigrant Visa program drew sudden and unexpected scrutiny, with President Trump stating Wednesday morning that “I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity visa lottery program,” adding, “It sounds nice. It’s not nice. It’s not good.”
Of course, security must be a priority, but the president’s view of this program is shortsighted.
Each autumn, cafes and campuses across Africa are transformed when the time comes to enroll in the Diversity Immigrant Visa program — the diversity visa lottery. In cities and towns across the continent, there are signs, banners, and people with laptops and cameras advertising offers to help register, for a small fee, aspiring lottery entrants. Of the millions who enroll in the lottery worldwide, only about 50,000 are admitted each year to the United States. The lottery, while a minor component of the U.S. immigration system, has taken on major significance in many African countries, where winning a diversity visa is one of the only ways to emigrate to the United States. And ending it would only play into the hands of anti-immigrant hard-liners with a narrow view of who belongs in the United States, cutting off an important avenue of African immigration and a vital source of goodwill toward the United States.