Most Americans Oppose Visa Lottery but Favor Other Openings for Immigrants: Reuters/Ipsos Poll

The recipients of the visas are chosen randomly by lottery, though they have to go through standard security checks before they are granted permission to enter the United States.


(Reuters) — Most Americans oppose the use of a lottery system for giving immigrants permanent U.S. residence, but a majority support allowing immigrants to obtain green cards through sponsorship by U.S. employers, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.

The poll, released on Thursday, found that only 25 percent of Americans support allowing immigrants to obtain U.S. green cards or permanent resident status through a lottery system, while 60 percent oppose it.

The green card lottery, also called the “diversity visa” program, aims to diversify the U.S. immigrant population by allotting 50,000 immigrant visas each year to citizens of countries that do not send many people to the United States.

The program has long been criticized by immigration hardliners in Congress and came under renewed attack by Trump and some Republicans after Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek national who came to the United States on a diversity visa in 2010, was charged in the attack in New York City that killed eight people.

Trump has urged Congress to kill the diversity visa lottery, which has drawn fire for being vulnerable to fraud and for posing national security risks. A 2013 bipartisan effort to reform immigration would have done away with the program but was killed by the Republican-led House.

The recipients of the visas are chosen randomly by lottery, though they have to go through standard security checks before they are granted permission to enter the United States.

Seventy percent of all adults support allowing foreign spouses of U.S. citizens to obtain green cards, and 61 percent support allowing immigrants to obtain permanent resident status through their work for U.S. businesses.

Though 60 percent of all adults said they opposed allowing immigrants to obtain green cards through a lottery, a smaller percentage, just over half, said they would support a proposal to end the program.

The Trump administration has targeted both legal and illegal immigration. An April executive order by Trump called for reforming the program awarding H-1B visas for skilled workers, and the administration has challenged applications for the visas more often than at nearly any point in the Obama era.

Chrystal Wilkins, 54, said she disagreed with ending the green card lottery. Wilkins, a Democrat, is married to a Senegalese immigrant who is now a U.S. citizen. Her husband did not come through the visa lottery but has a friend who did, she said.

“Immigration is good for the country,” said Wilkins, who lives in New York. “People should be allowed to come into the country through a lottery visa.”

Angel Hall, 18, who described herself as a moderate Republican, said she agreed with ending the green card lottery but supported other forms of legal immigration, including employment-based green cards, “because [immigrants] are coming here to work and be part of our economy.”

“It’s a little bit weird to just randomly pick people,” said Hall, a student in Michigan. “It should be more ordered than the random lottery that it is.”

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,278 adults and has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points.

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  • Merit-based legal immigration, yes. Blood-relative/matrimonial immigration maybe, and anchor baby/chain/diversity lottery/illegal immigration, no.

    • Anchor baby is a dog whistle term thrown around by Fox/breitbart/infowars/stormfront propaganda mills.

      Here are the facts.

      “…the parent of a so-called anchor baby would need to do all of the following.

      Wait for his or her child to reach the age of 21.
      Leave the United States.
      Return to their home country.
      Have their child begin the lengthy process of applying for a family reunification immigration request.
      Clear consular interviews and a U.S. State Department background check. (One or both would very likely provide evidence that said parent, at some point, lived in the United States illegally — long enough for that “anchor baby” to be conceived or born. And despite widespread belief to the contrary, there is indeed a penalty for that.)
      If a person has lived in the United States unlawfully for a period of more than 180 days but less than one year, there is an automatic three-year bar on that person ever reentering the United States — and that’s before any wait time for a visa. So that’s a minimum of 21 years for the child to mature, plus the three-year wait.”

      The almost 150-year-old law that makes people born in this country automatically American citizens traces back to its roots in our constitution where our rights are given to us by our creator, not by the state. Those babies are Americans.

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