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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

State Department And Immigration Law Contradict Trump Speech

Forbes (Op-Ed)
By Stuart Anderson
September 11, 2018

Last month, Donald Trump claimed that foreign governments get to pick who enters the U.S. on Diversity visas and then choose to send mass murderers to America. Is this an accurate description of U.S. immigration law? I asked State Department officials and they gave me an answer.

First, some background. At an August 2, 2018, rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Donald Trump said, “We got to get rid of visa – how about that? – visa, visa lottery. You know what a lottery is? You pick it out of a hat.”

He then digressed to ask the audience if they remembered when he announced his candidacy and called Mexicans rapists, although he didn’t use the word “rapist” this time. “Guess what? What I said is peanuts compared to what turns out to be the truth,” he continued. “It’s peanuts. So – so, we’re going to have not lottery where you pick it out. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, our first lottery winner.’ You know, they think we’re playing, like, a game show.”

He paused a moment. “Our first lottery winner,” said Trump. “Let’s see he has 7 convictions for death. He’s killed 9 people. And we’re getting him the hell out of our country and giving them to the stupid politicians that have been running the United States for many years. And we’re going to send him up there because he just won the lottery. Congratulations. Congratulations. Yeah, that’s a beauty.”

I asked the U.S. Department of State two questions: Question 1: In the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, do the governments of other countries get to choose which people are selected for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program? Question 2: Do you know of any cases where the State Department allowed into the U.S. an applicant for the Diversity Visa Program who murdered one or more people in their home country or committed a similar violent crime?

I received the following response on background, attributable to a Department of State official: “The Congressionally-mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV) makes available up to 55,000 diversity visas each year, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States,” the response began. “DV applicants are subject to all grounds of ineligibility for immigrant visas specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). There are no special provisions for the waiver of any ground of visa ineligibility aside from those ordinarily provided in the INA, nor is there special processing for waiver requests.”

I then asked experienced immigration attorneys the same questions about the president’s claims of how the Diversity Visa Program worked. “In regard to the first question, anyone convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, which would include manslaughter, would be ineligible for a visa pursuant to section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and this ineligibility normally cannot be waived,” said Jeffrey Gorsky, senior counsel at the law firm of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. “President Trump’s statement mentioned ‘convictions for death’ and such a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude would make them ineligible for an immigrant visa.”

Gorsky previously served as the Chief of the Legal Advisory Opinion section of the Visa Office in the Department of State. He added, “In regard to the other issue, individuals apply for the lottery on-line and selections are made randomly in the U.S. so other governments have no role in determining who wins a DV visa.” (Emphasis added.)

None of you need to ask the State Department or immigration attorneys about the Diversity Visa Program to know Donald Trump’s description of it is not true – and that it does not allow foreign governments to choose who comes to America. “The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States,” according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. “The DV Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS).”

The bottom line: Donald Trump’s description of how Diversity visas work is fabricated. Not only are convicted mass murderers (obviously) ineligible for the visa category but foreign governments don’t send us their “worst,” as he has said on more than one occasion.

Donald Trump is not dumb. He is attempting to make a case for changing U.S. immigration law by providing people with information he must know to be inaccurate. It’s like arguing, “It’s not fair that an individual member of Congress can take your entire paycheck just because he doesn’t like you personally. That’s why we need tax reform.”

The Diversity visa category, which requires at least two years qualifying work experience, a high school degree or its equivalent, isn’t ideal. However, most of those who criticize it want to reduce legal immigration, not to transfer its 50,000 green cards each year to, for example, employment-based green card categories. Alex Mehr, one of the founders of the successful romantic social network Zoosk, gained permanent residence via a Diversity visa. A finalist for the Intel Science Talent Search competition, Andrei Munteanu, came to America from Romania with his mother, a school teacher, through a Diversity visa. And, of course, many other Americans have led rewarding lives making contributions to U.S. society after entering on the visa.

Donald Trump’s assertion that Diversity visa immigrants are chosen by foreign government officials who send us mass murderers raises a serious question about the president’s approach to the issue: If he is so willing to repeatedly misrepresent the Diversity visa category, then should Americans believe anything he has to say about U.S. immigration policy?

For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

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