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Dear Editor:
Does every immigrant in the US, and every aspiring immigrant in the rest of the world, have a personal computer, and a highly sophisticated knowledge of how to use it? If not, they can just forget about applying for the visa lottery. Starting with the DV-2005 lottery, entries must be submitted electronically between Saturday, November 1, 2003 and Tuesday, December 30, 2003. Anything submitted by U.S. Postal Service will be ignored. Can a poor person n the U.S., much less in Ethiopia, have a chance? I guess not. Henceforth, the lottery will be for the well off and the well-connected, which seems to me to be a flagrant violation of the humanitarian principles that should guide the immigration law at its best. See here for the full story from the US State Department. Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Services, can be found at The hardship that the new electronic requirement will pose for ordinary people is well illustrated by the instructions on how to send photos, which used to be so easy. Here is what they say, at page 2: “Each applicant, his/her spouse, and each child will therefore need a computer file containing his/her digital photo (image) which will be submitted on-line with the EDV Entry Form. The image file can be produced either by taking a new digital photograph or by scanning a photographic print with a digital scanner.” There are many more lines of equally intimidating instructions, but these first few lines will suffice. Pages 10-11 have a list of countries in Africa and Asia, which are eligible for the lottery this year. There are a few that are famous for their computer-literate population, but many or most are among the poorest countries in the world, where access to a computer for ordinary citizens would be out of the question. Are there key players in the State Department who wish to eliminate the visa lottery? If so, they should come before Congress and make their pitch. What has been done, instead, is to quietly make the lottery impossible for ordinary people of modest means, here and abroad. Does anybody care about this?

Carl R. Baldwin