The estimated 450,000 Liberians who took their chances in the US Diversity Visa Lottery did so because of the dream of a better life in the United States, according to interviews conducted with participants last week.
These Liberians last Tuesday began checking the results to see if they were lucky winners of the annual United States Green Card Lottery that benefits 55,000 randomly selected foreigners.
Many, including graduates from the various universities, said without jobs to help them improve their lives, they see the US Diversity Visa Lottery as one of the effective means of getting out of the country.
“What opportunities do we have in Liberia?” asked a young woman who said she graduated with a BSc degree two years ago, but has not been able to find any gainful employment. “America is a country of opportunity and therefore we try our luck to get there,” she added.
Many of those interviewed admitted to the Daily Observer that Liberia is a country rich in natural resources, but noted that they are poor because Liberia’s resources are not trickling down to them to justify the country’s wealth.
“Let our political leaders give us a chance to enjoy the things that we dream to have in the United States and many of us may not have the temptation to struggle to go there,” she said. Other visa hopefuls said relatives in the United States have presented to them available employment opportunities there for people with an average high school education.
“I know many people who graduated from universities several years ago and are not working,” she said. “And every year universities put out many graduates into the system and they too look for jobs that are not available.”
With increasing economic difficulties and the apparent sense of hopelessness facing many people, the attraction to seek greener pastures abroad does not seem to be losing its appeal.
“The Liberian government trusts those who are educated in the United States,” said a male graduate from the state-owned University of Liberia. “It is such people that get the higher jobs and therefore that tells you that going abroad is something no one can ignore.”
Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. A limited number of visas are available each fiscal year. The DVs are distributed among six geographic regions and no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.
Many of the participants said while traveling abroad is a natural love for people, the Liberian government should make investments in job creation so that Liberians can see the difference between living abroad and living at home.
“Our lawmakers should see the challenge to make many of these things that are difficult to have in Liberia easier so that we will not have the reason to run to other countries for jobs, with their corresponding difficulties,” another said.
But until then, the proverbial American dream, defined by James Truslow Adams in 1931, that “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement regardless of social class or circumstances of birth and the belief that each individual can, through hard work and strength of mind, achieve everything,” will continue to serve as the motivation for many Liberians to seek greener pastures in education and employment in the United States.