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Video: Trump’s Claim on Diversity Visas


In this week’s fact-checking video, CNN’s Jake Tapper reviews President Donald Trump’s bogus claim that other countries are abusing a U.S. immigration program to send the U.S. “the worst of the worst.”

Trump was referring to the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which uses a computer lottery system to randomly issue up to 50,000 immigrant visas each year to qualified applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

At a Jan. 9 meeting on immigration, Trump said: “They call it ‘visa lottery,’ I just call it ‘lottery.’  But countries come in and they put names in a hopper. They’re not giving you their best names; common sense means they’re not giving you their best names. They’re giving you people that they don’t want.  And then we take them out of the lottery. And when they do it by hand — where they put the hand in a bowl — they’re probably — what’s in their hand are the worst of the worst.”

Trump grossly misrepresents how the program works. As we wrote when Trump made similar remarks last month, there is no evidence that other countries are gaming the system and sending the U.S. “the worst of the worst.”

Individuals, not nations, apply for the visas and to be eligible applicants must demonstrate to the U.S. that they have a high school education or its equivalent or “two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.” If one is selected through the lottery, he or she still has to go through a background security vetting process.

“It is a complicated and lengthy process,” explained Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell Law School. “Among other things, the consular officer must make sure the individual is not ‘inadmissible.’ This means that the person has not committed a crime, doesn’t have a serious health problem, isn’t a terrorist, hasn’t committed fraud, and hasn’t overstayed in the U.S. before.”

“The diversity lottery is a true lottery,” Yale-Loehr also told us. “There is no way a foreign government can game the lottery to offload the worst of their citizenry.”

All of our video collaborations with CNN’s “State of the Union” are available on FactCheck.org.