Green court lottery

Why 22,000 would-be Americans could be suing the state department

    A court case is underway in the United States to try and get an injunction to stop the state department from re-drawing its 2012 Diversity Lottery.

    The lottery offers up to 55,000 green cards each year, allowing the winners from around the world to live and work in the US.

    The names are normally pulled at random, but this year the state department says a mistake means the first 22,000 drawn to move further along the process towards getting a green card were incorrectly selected and they will have to be put back into the pot and drawn again along with thousands of other applicants.

    Nader Habib is one of the 22,000. We met him at his home in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

    When I applied for the lottery, I had very little hope to win because millions of people apply. When I was selected it was a huge surprise.

    But Nader’s happiness didn’t last long. Thirteen days after the lottery was drawn the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services David Donahue put out this statement on the state department's website:

    Regrettably the results that were previously posted on this website are not valid. They were posted in error. These results are not valid because they did not represent a fair and random selection of entrants as required by US law.

    A deeply disappointed Nader found a Facebook site called "22,000 Hopefuls".

    I found out all about this online, that this group of seven people have raised a case in court on behalf of the 22,000 people that won.

    The group started on Facebook but quickly grew and is now administered by Armande Gil. She was one of the 22,000 hopefuls and is now one of 36 plaintives in the civil lawsuit.

    We hoped they would get back to us and give us an outreach, and try to negotiate with us, give us an opening, give us a compromise but they did none of that. So we had no other alternative but to go for a class action lawsuit.

    Armande hired lawyer Kenneth White. “It’s not just 22,000 numbers, we’re not talking about numbers, it’s 22,000 individuals who received this promise from the state department allowing them to go forward a promise to pursue their dreams.”

    Back in Cairo, Nader is wondering if he’ll ever make it to the US. He's pinning his hopes on the country's legal system.

    The case is being handled by the US department of justice and heard in front of a judge who will decide if the names drawn will stand or if the state department has the right to throw them back into the mix and start the process all over again.


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