A class action lawsuit has been filed against the U.S. Department of State for canceling the results of the 2012 Green Card Lottery, which otherwise would have granted 20,000 immigrants direct access to a permanent resident visa in the United States.
The Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery, or Green Card Lottery, is a government-regulated lottery that randomly selects 50,000 eligible immigrants from select countries around the world for an opportunity to immediately obtain a permanent residency visa. The goal of the lottery is to diversify the U.S. population. Around 15 million people applied for the most recent drawing, according to CNN. However, due to a computer glitch that compromised the fairness of the selection process, 22,000 chosen applicants had their winning status revoked.
Those affected by the lottery results are being represented by immigration lawyer Kenneth White in a lawsuit seeking reinstatement of the original winners. White’s firm, White and Associates, is litigating the case on a pro bono basis, according to a press release.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, seeks class-action status and names plaintiffs from more than 20 countries. The suit asks that the U.S. government restore its “broken commitment,” stating that chosen individuals had “lawfully and properly” followed rules set forth by the State Department and thought they were among the “lucky few” selected to proceed with the green-card application.
David Donahue, a deputy assistant secretary of state who oversees the program, said the original draw was voided because it “did not represent a fair, random selection of entrants as required by U.S. law,” according to a State Department website.
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The lawsuit contends the “outcome was indeed not uniform, but nevertheless still random as required by law.”
Under the program, visas are made available to applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. Winners have a shot at settling in the U.S. without a family member or employer as a sponsor, the usual routes to obtaining permanent residency.
Disenchanted applicants from across the globe created a Facebook page dubbed “22,000 Tears” and began collecting signatures for letters to the State Department and U.S. lawmakers in protest. In an email to a reporter, an applicant from Egypt threatened to kill himself if he wasn’t reinstated.
The State Department’s inspector general said earlier this month a team would be assembled to review the situation. A spokesman said Monday the review should be finished within weeks.
Los Angeles attorney Kenneth White, who is representing the individuals in the suit pro-bono, said “the basis of this case is deep-rooted in the simple and enduring American value that ‘our word is our bond.”‘
Armande Gil, a French neuropsychologist who earned her Ph.D. in the U.S., said she had a job offer in a Florida hospital that was contingent on getting the green card. “I had an interview on May 2, after I learned I had won,” she said.
Launched in 1990 to promote diversity in the immigrant population, the green-card lottery is now open to people from almost anywhere in the world, except countries that already have a large number of nationals in the U.S., including Mexico, China, India and the Philippines. No special skills are required beyond a high-school diploma. Lottery winners eventually qualify for U.S. citizenship.
Source: theepochtimes.com and Wall street journal