While Politicians Call for Restricting Freedom After NYC Attack, This Immigrant Has Been Fighting For Yours

Carla Gericke, of Free State Project fame, first immigrated to America thanks to the Diversity Visa Program.


Carla Gericke

Since Tuesday's attack in New York City, our politicians have mostly bickered about who was most responsible for failing to end the Diversity Visa Lottery program that allowed alleged rental truck killer Sayfullo Saipov into the country.

President Donald Trump blamed Sen. Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.)—who had initially proposed diversity visas back in 1990—calling the Diversity Visa Lottery a "Schumer beauty." Schumer and others have scrambled, saying they tried to end the program years ago.

"It's obviously reactionary to just immediately say, 'OK, so we should end this program',"Carla Gericke says. The Diversity Lottery Program gives opportunities to hundreds of thousands of people like her to "come and contribute to the American economy."

Gericke is a former president of New Hampshire's Free State Project, a long-time libertarian activist (who has been interviewed by Reason more than a few times) and a Diversity Lottery winner. Her perspective on the lottery is shaped by her politics and her personal experience.

Gericke used the lottery to come to the United States from her native South Africa in 1996. She first applied when she was a 20-year old law student in Pretoria. "I remember I got home from school, and there was this giant envelope on my front mat," she tells Reason, "I opened it up and it was like, 'You have won the lottery'."

Nearly 10 million people enter this visa lottery every year. Of those, somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 are then given permission to apply for a visa like Gericke.

All applicants must go through a vetting process, which includes submitting required documentation (birth certificates, medical examinations, court records), followed by in-person interviews at a U.S. consulate, and a background check.

The process took Gericke two years, and one intense grilling by State Department staff at the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg. In 1996, she and her husband emigrated to California.

"We were excited to be here," says Gericke, who found work as a lawyer for Silicon Valley tech firms. At the time, says Gericke, she was not much one for economics or politics, apart from what she describes as "small-time anti-Apartheid" activism in her youth.

But then, the Dot-com bubble burst and Gericke and her husband lost their jobs.

"Being naturally curious, I asked what happened? How was there this bubble, then this giant implosion," says Gericke. "That led me to Austrian economics, the Free State Project, and then Ron Paul, and life in New Hampshire."

Gericke is no nativist's boogeyman. She has worked tirelessly to expand the libertarian movement. While serving as Free State president, she helped the annual Porcupine Freedom Festival to grow. She was even the plaintiff in a landmark First Amendment case that affirmed the right to film police officers.

Terrible attack aside, statistics show that typical immigrants are much more Gericke than Saipov.

According to the academic literature, immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans, are incarcerated at a lower rate, and actually help to increase the wages of Americans. Though most are not fire-breathing libertarians, their political views are mostly indistinguishable from those whose families have lived in the country for generations.

Indeed, if we are really concerned about protecting American freedoms, we might want to put fewer restrictions on immigrants and more on native-born politicians.

In the wake of Tuesday's attack, President Trump has advocated for eliminating the Diversity Visa Program and more "extreme vetting" of immigrants. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R–S.C.) has been throwing a fit about Saipov not being immediately shipped off to Guantanamo Bay, far away from a lawyer or due process rights. And Schumer, for his part, has demanded more anti-terrorism funding.

"We all know this quote by now that 'they hate us for our freedoms', so the governments reaction is 'lets give people less freedom,'" Gericke says. "It's non-sensical."

Ultimately, this kind of predictable response diminishes the very things that made America attractive to her, and countless immigrants, in the first place.

"It's my adopted country, and I love it," she says. "Watching it devolve into this police state, it's depressing."

Check out Reason's interview with Gericke here:

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  1. “”””This brief uses the United States Census’s AmericanCommunity Survey (ACS) to focus on immigrants aged
    18 to 54 who are incarcerated in the United States, their incarceration rates, and their demographics for 2014. ACS
    inmate data is reliable because it is ordinarily collected by or under the supervision of correctional institution

    So this study thinks that people who are here illegally and are in prison will admit to prison officials that they are here illegally?

  2. “It’s my adopted country, and I love it,” she says. “Watching it devolve into this police state, it’s depressing.”
    This coming from a former South African, whose parents controlled a white person police state until the 1990’s.

    Either she’s an Ameircan or an American’t.

    If she’s an American, then furthering Classical Liberal ideals is a good thing. She would also understand that the Constitution enumerates the duty of Congress to regulation immigration. She would also see that demographics are changing America in a bad way by bringing their police state ways here to America and voting for them.

    If she’s an American’t, then I guess she will allow open border types to win and the continued dismissal of American rights and freedoms.

    1. Where in the US Constitution does it grant the power to regulate immigration to Congress?

      1. Article I, Sec. 8:
        To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

        Article I, Sec. 9:
        The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

    2. Actually, Constitution-lover, it doesn’t. The Constitution only grants the fedgov the power to standardize naturalization & to declare all persons born on American soil to be citizens. Oversight or intentional? This should sound sort of familiar, “He has …refusing to pass [laws] to encourage their migrations hither …” Then there’s the whole, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution”, business.

      1. Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution says that the US government must protect states from invasion.

        It does not limit this to armed invasion.

      2. Actually, Mitsima, the Constitution gives Congress the enumerated power of regulating immigrants and slaves after 1808, in Article I, Section 9.

  3. OK, we’ve got one bad one and one good one. Who’s up next?

  4. Okay, Reason has convinced me: More non-aggressing, Libertarian Afrikaners and fewer murderous, Islamic Uzbeks.

  5. Meanwhile, back in NH, Ms. Gericke and her intrepid band have done nothing, said nothing about pop-up Border Patrol checkpoints on the interstate.

  6. Lotto Immigrant? DEPORT NOW! @RealDrumpf

    1. Fun Fact: Even the Netflix lefty documentary people could not use any last name but Trump in their “Meet the Trumps: From Immigrant to President”

      Donald Trump father and Grandfather (who came from Germany) has a surname of Trump.

      Remember: Be careful what you wish for.

      If you want to deport citizens then the majority will start to deport lefties, since conservatives hold a majority in the USA.

  7. Schumer and others have scrambled lied, saying they tried to end the program years ago.

    Fixed that for you.

    Chucky and his buddies weren’t trying to stop it, they were trying to render it moot by throwing open the borders to all and sundry.

  8. And nobody screamed about this white person getting in on a Diversity visa?


    1. Since you are not reading comments relating to the Diversity visa from days ago, quit a few people mentioned that these visas should be stopped from all countries.

      That includes white people and brown people and black people and purple people.

      1. Well, purple people should just be eaten.

  9. At the time, says Gericke, she was not much one for economics or politics, apart from what she describes as “small-time anti-Apartheid” activism in her youth.

    And having gotten her wish, she promptly escapes the consequences by immigrating to America, bringing her enlightened values with her, and leaving her countrymen to their fate.

    Sorry, no sale. Send this one back!

    1. Gericke used the lottery to come to the United States from her native South Africa in 1996

    2. Ms. Gericke subscribes to the libertarian ideal of diversity – all different kinds of white people.

  10. “It’s obviously reactionary to just immediately say, ‘OK, so we should end this program’,”Carla Gericke says.

    Reactionary! So scary! The kulaks and wreckers will ruin everything!

  11. Gericke is no nativist’s boogeyman. She has worked tirelessly to expand the libertarian movement. . . . She was even the plaintiff in a landmark First Amendment case that affirmed the right to film police officers.

    Not exactly a nativist’s boogeyman, then, but an authoritarian’s boogeyman.

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