Immigration attorney against president’s plan to end lottery program

Posted: Updated:

Immigration attorneys are speaking out in opposition to President Donald Trump’s call to end the Diversity Visa Lottery Program.

The president called for an end to the program because he said it allowed terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov into the country. Saipov is accused of terrorizing a Lower West Side bike path in New York City Tuesday, killing eight people in the name of the Islamic State group.

The Uzbek native came to the United States in 2010 by the visa lottery program.

Critics say the program poses security risks. Ancy Varghese, who represents hundreds of immigrants at Visa Pro Immigration Law Office in Tarrytown, says Saipov wasn't a terrorist when he came to the country.

“He was driving a truck, paid taxes, working, he wasn't unemployed, he wasn't taking benefits and then he was indoctrinated, fell under the spell of ISIS, which happens to people all over the world,” says Varghese.

Varghese says that more can be done to improve background checks, including working with other countries to make sure that they are also doing the proper background checks.

Christo Bakalov, a News 12 photographer, entered the visa lottery in his native Bulgaria 20 years ago. 

“The lottery is a chance for around 50,000 people a year to get a ticket out of poverty and into America without any special skill or relatives already in the country,” says Bakalov, who is now an American citizen.

Bakalov says that the lottery works for many people in a positive way and that stopping the program is not the way to end terrorism.

President Trump says he's asking Congress to work toward terminating the program, but it's unclear if that will happen. Currently, the enrollment period is open and applications are submitted electronically.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."