(CNSNews.com) – A little-known State Department program has allowed about 3,400 immigrants to come to the U.S. in 2008 from the four nations that a currently listed by the State Department as “state sponsors of terror” – Iran, Cuba, Syria and Sudan.
According to a State Department report on the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, 691visas were granted to immigrants from Cuba, 1,435 to immigrants from Iran, 1,147 to immigrants from Sudan and 94 to immigrants from Syria.
The program, mandated by Congress and administered by the State Department, consists of a lottery for applicants from countries with “low rates of immigration” to the U.S.
In the 2008 diversity visa (DV) lottery, the U.S. made available 50,000 visas for applicants.
Out of 6.4 million applicants, approximately 96,000 were chosen at random from countries in six different geographic regions, and registered. The 96,000 were then allowed to apply for one of the 50,000 visas.Applicants must be “natives” of an eligible country -- in most cases, the applicant’s country of birth. Applicants must also have either a high school education or its equivalent, or “two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform,” according to the official lottery program regulations. “Qualifying work experience” is determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.
No more than 7 percent of the visas may go to persons from one single country.
According to Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, it is up to the attorney general to determine immigration numbers from the past five years, and to identify regions and states with high and low admission rates to the U.S.
Visas are then issued to persons from “low-admission states” -- states that have not sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the previous five-year period.
In 2007, the Government Accountability Office issued a report indicating that nearly 9,800 aliens from state sponsors of terrorism have received diversity visas since 2000.
The report, however, indicated that the diversity visa lottery program was "susceptible to fraud" and was a way for terrorists to enter the country – though no incidences have yet been reported.
“The IG (Inspector General) stated that the DV program posed significant risks to national security from hostile intelligence officers, criminals, and terrorists attempting to use the program for entry into the United States as permanent residents and recommended that State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs propose legislation to bar aliens from state sponsors of terrorism,” the GAO report said.
The State Department’s consuls agreed with the recommendation in principle, the GAO reported, but did not implement it, “expressing concern over the effect of permanently disbarring aliens who may be fleeing oppressive regimes of states that sponsor terrorism.”