A terror attack in New York City on Tuesday has brought renewed attention to the United States Diversity Visa program – the immigration pathway that brought the alleged attacker into the U.S. – but the truth is that President Donald Trump announced three months ago his intent to end the program.
Sayfullo Saipov, originally of Uzbekistan, legally entered the U.S. through a program launched in 1990 that was designed to broaden opportunities for immigrants to come from countries that were historically underrepresented in the U.S. After Saipov’s truck attack killed eight people, Trump slammed the program. “I am, today, starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program,” Trump said. “Sounds nice, it is not nice, it is not good. It hasn’t been good and we have been against it.”
Yet Trump’s administration announced on August 2 that an overhaul of the U.S. immigration system would end the Diversity Visa program. That has consequences for citizens from almost all African nations; only Nigerians were not eligible to apply for one of the 50,000 slots under 2018 guidelines.
Immigrants from the sub-Saharan region are more likely than immigrants overall to enter the U.S. via the Diversity Visa program, which Trump plans to replace with a merit-based system. Called the RAISE Act, the new approach lowers the overall refugee cap to 50,000 annually and institutes a point system that rewards younger immigrants with university degrees who speak English, while eliminating social assistance eligibility for immigrants.
The draft bill includes pages of explanation of the RAISE point system, and how it scores everything from a foreign doctoral STEM degree (10 points) to a recent Olympic medal winner (15 points) to an applicant with a high-paying job offer (13 points).
A copy of the original draft is available here.