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Diversity Lottery Winners Golden Ticket Stolen

BY: Leen Alfatafta, ADC Organizing Intern

Imagine a war breaks out in your country wreaking havoc on all that you hold dear. It has already taken the lives of at least 8,000 people and displaced millions.  In fact, commentators are speculating your country is on the brink of famine. Many of the vibrant previously ports alongside the coastline are blocked, making delivery of food and medicine close to impossible. And making matters worse is the Cholera outbreak that is plaguing the life of one out of every 45 individuals, the largest outbreak of the disease in the world.

That is now the reality faced by countless Yemenis currently residing in war-torn Yemen, where drinking water has become a luxury. Ever since the implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order targeting six Muslim-majority nations, of which Yemen is one, hopes of escaping the nightmare have gone very slim. One silver lining that remains is the State Department’s Diversity Immigrant Visas (DV) program.

The DV lottery is a golden ticket to the land of endless opportunities, a chance at achieving the American Dream. The recipients are usually selected on the basis of their level of educational attainment and from countries that historically have low rates of immigration to the U.S.

Now imagine this: you’re a Yemeni national who won the DV lottery, you sell everything of value you own, you borrow as much money as you can, and you pack your remaining belongings. Because all consular services are suspended in the U.S. embassy, so you travel to a different country. Once you get there you discover that your application is placed in a lengthy administrative processing or your approved visa has been revoked.

It is devastating but this is the reality of countless Yemenis who have left everything behind for the possibility of a better and safer life.  Equally disturbing is that the implementation of the Executive Order has brought with it unnecessary and discriminatory visa issuance practices. Many Yemeni DV applicants have either been explicitly rejected or put through lengthy administrative processing despite their qualifications.

Aside from the cost of an extended stay being too much for most Yemeni nationals to bear, the DV application expires on September 30. If the visas aren’t approved by that date, all Yemeni nationals will be sent back to one of the worst humanitarian crises we are witnessing today.

That is why the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department challenging discriminatory revocation and stalling of Diversity Immigrant Visas (DV) for Yemeni nationals. The lawsuit seeks to prohibit the discriminatory delay of DV issuance to Yemeni nationals.

It is not hard to imagine how distressing this must be for Yemeni applicants if you flip the narrative. What if you lost the golden ticket you sacrificed everything for? Would you stay silent? Or would you fight for the fairness you deserve? ADC will stand with and advocate for Yemeni DV applicants until justice is served.