Questions surround the immigrant diversity visa program following New York attack

- Questions surround the visa program that allowed the accused New York City terror suspect to enter the country. 

San Jose State political scientist Karthika Sasikumar said applying for the diversity visa lottery program requires a few simple keystrokes. Basic information, along with education and work history -- a high school diploma and two years at a job, or equivalent training, are required. 

A person is then added to a list of people from smaller countries hoping to find a home in America. This program was created in 1990 by then-congressman Charles Shumer and others.

"The idea was to balance out having a lot of immigration from only a small number of countries. that's what they wanted to avoid by having a diversity visa program," said Sasikumar.

Sasikumar, scanning the visa webpage from her home computer, says the bulk of U-S immigration comes from China, India, Mexico, and Vietnam. Smaller countries that historically haven't had links, don't have many immigrants here. The lottery is a way of increasing ranks from those countries.

"If your name is pulled out of the hat, then you get an invitation to go to the U.S. embassy or consulate near where you live, and then you have an interview," Sasikumar said.

During that interview with state department officials, a more stringent screening process is undertaken. A person's information is verified and his or her background checked to insure they don't pose a threat. Only one-percent of applicants world-wide will be granted a green card to come to the U.S.
 
That translates into roughly 50-thousand people annually. 

The man accused of Tuesday's terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan entered the country through the lottery in 2010. President Donald Trump is calling on congress to scrap the program, citing that it can lead to security risks.

"Fixing this program just because it just happens to be the way one specific terrorist entered the country is not going to be a long term solution to the problem," said Sasikumar.

She says that long-term solution is comprehensive immigration reform. Something many see as farther away, as Washington politics attack the symptom instead of seeking a solution.
 

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