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November 30, 2021 



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Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) joined by Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15), and 46 of their colleagues, sent a letter to Secretary Antony Blinken urging him to either rescind or amend the Diversity Visa Program and remove the unnecessary restrictions of the Passport Rule: 

“The Diversity Visa Program was originally created, within the State Department, to grant visas to countries with low immigration rates to the United States. The Trump Administration made many unsuccessful attempts to end the program all together, however, they were successful to include more restrictions and hurdles for applicants. By way of the unnecessary requirements of the Passport Rule, applicants from developing countries are too restricted and overburdened to participate in the Diversity Visa Program. This has significantly undermined access to the Diversity Visa Program, as well as tarnished the symbolism and spirit in which the program was enacted; to encourage “new seed” immigration from regions and nations that did not send many immigrants under our family or employment-based systems. That is why, I am urging Secretary Blinken to rescind or amend the 2019 Interim Final “Passport Rule” that requires applicants to invest in a passport before they are able to apply for the program. Because the chances of winning the lottery are very low and the financial burden is disproportionately high, this rule affects millions of applicants discouraged from applying due to the costs associated with obtaining a passport they may never get to use. We are a nation of immigrants and diversity is not just our strength, it is our superpower. It is a fundamental understanding of our commitment to human rights. And so, we must make it easier to accept newcomers, not harder, ” said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke

“The Diversity Visa Program has been a long-standing initiative in our country, promoting a core value that our nation was founded on; that people from all backgrounds can come to the U.S. in search of a more prosperous life and to achieve their American Dream. But the Trump administration, fueled by its anti-immigrant agenda, implemented the Passport Rule that placed massive financial burdens on immigrants by requiring applicants to obtain a passport before they are able to enter the Diversity Visa lottery. 

This Rule is unconscionable and antithetical to the original intent of the Diversity Visa Program. We are a nation founded by immigrants and a nation made stronger by its diversity. Requiring potential applicants to hold a passport prior to applying for the Diversity Visa lottery only acts as a deterrent to millions of potential new Americans. That is why the Secretary must take action on this rule. We eagerly await his response to our letter,” said Congresswoman Meng.

“The Trump Administration’s xenophobic immigration policies have left a hateful stain on our nation’s legacy. It is incumbent upon the Biden Administration to rescind all of the last Administration’s harmful policies. The repeal of the “Passport Rule” to the Diversity Visa Program is yet another important step in reversing racist policies and restoring our commitment to human rights. As a global leader we must enact policy that reflects our values of inclusivity and diversity, ” added Congressman Ritchie Torres

Click here for full text of the letter.


Yvette D. Clarke has been in Congress since 2007. She represents New York’s Ninth Congressional District, which includes Central and South Brooklyn. Clarke is Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce on Immigration, a Senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Chair of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Innovation Subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

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