Just days before the nation went into its annual "We will never forget" 9/11 memorial ceremonies, the federal government demonstrated how little concern it has for its citizens' safety and how little it learned from the World Trade Center tragedy 11 years ago that left 3,000 Americans dead.
To be sure, politicians in the heat of their re-election campaigns did and said all the right things. On 9/11, President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney declared a truce in their bitter head-to-head battle. Both pulled their negative attack ads and had no rallies scheduled.
But late this summer, behind the scenes, the U.S. Department of State announced that from more than 370,000 Iranians who registered for the 2013 Diversity Visa Lottery, 6,000 won and will received the coveted green card prize. Iran has the highest rate of DV winners among participating countries that include at least a dozen other nations known to be sympathetic to terrorism.
Since 1995 when the bipartisan Barbara Jordan recommended that Congress eliminate the diversity lottery, the program has been under fire for, among other things, its randomness. Jordan, a Democrat, was the first black southern woman elected to the House of Representatives; she served from 1967-1973.
The DV, established as part of the 1990 Immigration Act, rewards foreign nationals within the United States with permanent residency regardless of family ties (or lack thereof), their few individual skills, little education and despite the potential national security and terrorism threats they may represent. Even though the 50,000 annual visas obviously serve no compelling national purpose, killing the program off has been impossible.
During the same week that Iranians received their winning notifications, Canada Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird cut diplomatic ties with Iran, citing terrorism concerns. Baird ordered Canada's Iranian embassy closed effective immediately and gave diplomats five days to leave Ottawa. Canada also formally listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Said Baird: "Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today."
Curiously, ultra-liberal Canada has identified a potential enemy (Iran) and has severed ties with it. At the same time, the politically correct United States sticks with the DV beyond any logic and also lays out the carpet for a significant number of foreign nationals who may have anti-American sentiments.
Thirty years ago, the State Department identified Iran as a terrorist nation. In 1984, it added Iran to its original 1979 list that included Cuba, Syria, Iraq and South Yemen. According to the State Department, since 2006 Iran has shipped large numbers of weapons to Afghanistan to increase its influence. Furthermore, according to the State Department, Iranian authorities provide "lethal support, including weapons, training, funding and guidance to Iraqi Shia militant groups that target U.S. and Iraqi forces."
Congress is in a clueless, self-defeating brain lock about the diversity visa and its negative impact on assimilation, population growth and American job displacement. Remember that green cards include work authorization. The Safe for America Act of 2011 that would end the diversity lottery has a mere 44 co-sponsors, a disgracefully low total.
With 9/11's 11th anniversary fresh in our minds, Congress should be ashamed for allowing a useless and dangerous practice like the diversity visa to continue in perpetuity.
Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District and now lives in Pittsburgh. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.