House Majority Whip Steve Scalise agrees with President Donald Trump’s call to end the diversity visa lottery, arguing the United States needs to modernize its immigration policy during an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The lottery, which provides green cards for up to 50,000 immigrants annually, has been thrust into the spotlight after it was discovered it Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, the suspect in Tuesday’s terror attack in New York City, obtained his visa through the program. The current system is flawed, but he’s committed to helping make reforms, Scalise said.
“Trump’s right. I have been a longtime opponent of this visa lottery program, because look, number one, we let in about a million people a year in America,” he told TheDCNF in an exclusive, on-camera interview. “It’s the most generous immigration plans in the world. No other country lets in that many people to our country legally.”
The Louisiana Republican said he believes the U.S. should shift to a merit-based system, citing the loss of talented people educated in the U.S. leaving for their home countries as “a clear example of why it’s a failure.”
“Look at what we’re doing in higher education: We are training some of the brightest people in the world — the best computer scientists, the best engineers, and when they get their degree graduate because they had a student visa, they’re forced to leave the country and go compete against us. It makes absolutely no sense,” Scalise continued. “So why have this lottery program where you literally just let people in that you don’t even know what their backgrounds are, you can’t do the vetting.”
Scalise isn’t the first member of Congress to call for an end to the program, GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia introduced legislation in February to eliminate the lottery and roll back the number of green cards granted annually. Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican, introduced a companion bill in September to the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act.
Several lawmakers have called for changes to the visa diversity program to be included in a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ahead of a March deadline.
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