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A rough week for the diversity visa lottery and its non-winners

Screen shot from "22,000 Tears" Facebook page

It has not been a good week for the non-winners of the 2012 federal green card lottery known as the Diversity Visa Lottery Program.

In May, roughly 22,000 people around the world who had applied for the visa lottery operated by the U.S. State Department were notified they had won - then were quickly notified again that no, they had not, as there had been a computer error and the results would be voided. Several filed a class-action lawsuit to halt a new lottery; others mounted a social media campaign to have their results recognized.

Last week, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit. A new lottery has since been held. And this Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will be marking up a bill that aims to get rid of the 20-year-old lottery program, which has long faced opposition. Yale Law School professor Peter H. Schuck condemned it last week in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece:

A green card to the U.S. is one of the most valuable pieces of paper in the history of the world. So why would we want to give roughly 5% of them each year to people who, for all we know, have nothing more to offer America than a high school education, a winning ticket and (in many cases) an agent they paid to help them game the lottery system?

None of this is stopping some of those who were told erroneously that they had won, whose hopes were pinned on the news. On the "22,000 Tears" Facebook page, some people vowed to keep fighting for a reversal of the State Department's decision to void their results.

Here are a few unedited comments posted over the weekend. Anna Demidchik wrote:

Guys, right now, before Wednesday, we should concentrate on contacting members of the House Subcommittee on Immigration. And maybe members of the Foreign Policy Committee (both Immigration and Foreign Policy are sub-committees of the House Judiciary, if I'm not mistaken). They will be responsible for conducting a hearing on DV Lottery. We'll try to get them to discuss our issue too.

Olalekan Salako wrote:
God will see us through and give us our victory.

Others were more resigned. Ikechukwu M. Okolo wrote:
We can't keep sleeping and waking up to cry over our issues. I'll make good use of my system and write to the appropriate people..If something can be done about us then our efforts will make it happen

Hayk Ayvazyan wrote:
God closes one door and opens anothe.We must look for another door.And we can do it.

And Anderson Bambokile wrote:
Lets get over it, and get a life there are so many door out there

What many did, whether pushing on or not, is express a singular kind of grief. Ashraf Khamis wrote:
None of us can get over DV 2012, especially those who are living outside the EU. It was as if I lived in the U.S. for 13 days (in my mind)!

The visa lottery program was established in 1990 with the idea of diversifying the pool of immigrants coming into the country, bringing in people from underrepresented developing countries and from countries with low rates of immigration. It makes up to 55,000 immigrant visas available each year to people who apply for them via random electronic selection.

Unlike with traditional immigrant visas, for which applicants need to be sponsored and wait in line – often for many years – lottery applicants needn’t be sponsored by a relative or employer. Applicants must have a high school education or its equivalent, and at least two recent years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years’ training or experience.

In addition to the recent computer glitch, there have been other problems with the lottery in the past, including the program being subject to scams.