(New York Times)
The terrorist attack in New York quickly turned into a debate over immigration policy after President Trump revealed Wednesday that Sayfullo Saipov, the man accused of killing eight people, had benefited from an obscure program known as the diversity visa lottery.
Mr. Trump’s comment – and his attack on Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who was instrumental in creating the program in 1990 – threw a spotlight on the lottery, a small part of the overall immigration system that nonetheless has been criticized by members of both parties. Mr. Schumer, in fact, was among senators proposing to end it several years ago.
The lottery offers one of the fastest paths to legal permanent residency, often in less than two years. Some one million people have been awarded green cards through the program. Unlike other immigrants who gain admission, winners of the lottery do not need to have a close relative living in the United States, or any special skill.
It is indeed a little like hitting a lottery. Some years, the program has attracted nearly 15 million applications, but no more than 50,000 visas may be awarded.