Well, some in Congress seem intent on doing just that. Both the current Senate and House immigration bills contain amendments that would either do away with, or so radically alter, the diversity visa lottery as to make it entirely irrelevant to the vast majority of those who dared to harbor hope, even as they faced daunting numerical odds.
As it stands, the lottery provides 50,000 annual visas in a general worldwide pool. All an applicant requires is a high school education and/or a couple of years work experience in any one of hundreds of specified work areas. The House proposal would scrap the diversity program entirely. The Senate view, as expressed in the Gregg amendment to the recent reform bill, S.2611, would dramatically raise the qualifying bar for two thirds of the annual visa allocation.
The setting aside of two thirds of even the full 55,000 would leave just 18,333 visas for as many as ten million or more general level applicants from all over the world.
The chances of any individual Irish applicant being successful in such a scenario would shrivel to a point below merely negligible.
Many groups and organizations, including the U.S. Catholic bishops, support the retention of the diversity program regardless of what emerges from the immigration reform debate in Washington. And so do we.
It may be the most tenuous of lifelines linking Ireland and Irish America but right now even the tenuous is worth fighting for. Irish America’s very future depends on a living link between the two countries. Irish immigrants need no longer be economic refugees, and they need no longer cross the Atlantic in big numbers.
But some will always want to make the crossing, legally. Scrapping the diversity program will merely close America’s door to the Irish even more than is already the case and that is something Irish America should not allow happen.