Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce today the Security and Fairness Enhancement, or SAFE, for America Act of 2003. This much-needed bipartisan legislation eliminates the controversial immigration program, the visa lottery program, which threatens national security, resulting in the unfair administration of our Nation's immigration laws, and encouraging a cottage industry for fraudulent opportunists.
Each year, approximately 50,000 aliens are chosen at random to come and live permanently in the United States via the visa lottery program. This program presents a serious national security threat. Under the program, each successful applicant is chosen at random and given the status of permanent resident based on pure luck. A perfect example of the system gone awry is the case of Hesham Mohammed Ali Hedayet, the Egyptian national who killed two and wounded three during a shooting spree at Los Angeles International Airport in July of last year. He was allowed to apply for lawful permanent resident status in 1997 because of his wife's status as a visa lottery winner.
Usually, immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals that have existing connection with family members lawfully residing in the United States or with U.S. employers. These types of relationships help ensure that immigrants entering our country have a stake in continuing America's success and have needed skills to contribute to our Nation's economy. However, under the visa lottery program, visas are awarded to immigrants at random without meeting such criteria.
In addition, the visa lottery program is unfair to immigrants who comply with the United States immigration laws. The visa lottery program does not prohibit illegal aliens from applying to receive visas through the program. Thus, the program treats foreign nationals that comply with our laws the same as those that blatantly violate our laws. In addition, most family- or employer-sponsored immigrants currently face a wait of years to obtain visas. Yet the lottery program pushes 50,000 random immigrants with no particular family ties, job skills or education ahead of these family- and employer-sponsored immigrants each year with relatively no wait. This sends the wrong message to those who wish to enter our great country and to the international community as a whole.
Furthermore, the visa lottery program is wrought with fraud. A recent report released by the Center for Immigration Studies states that it is commonplace for foreign nationals to apply for the visa lottery program multiple times using different aliases and other false personal information. In addition, the visa lottery program has spawned a cottage industry featuring sponsors in the U.S. who falsely promise success to applicants in exchange for large sums of money. Ill-informed foreign nationals are willing to pay top dollar for the "guarantee" of lawful permanent resident status in the United States. The visa lottery program represents what is wrong with our country's current immigration system. The SAFE for America Act eliminates the visa lottery program from the Immigration and Nationality Act. The removal of this controversial program will help ensure our Nation's security, make the administration of our immigration laws more consistent and fair, and help reduce immigration fraud. I urge each of my colleagues to support this important bipartisan legislation.