Raw footage for the award-winning series The 90's. Eddie Tape #80. Outside the United States Post Office in Merrifield, Virginia, 1991 after the first immigration visa lottery. Nearly 19 million applications were submitted by mail for the 40,000 open slots. The lottery was an attempt to give a boost to several under-represented countries, including Ireland. There are multiple interviews on this tape, which is continued from 10935.
00:00Copy video clip URL Footage continues from Tape 10935. Exterior United States Postal Office in Merrifield, Virginia. A crowd of people line up to drop off mailing entries for the Visa Lottery. The crowd asks a USPS worker questions to clarify entry verification information. He explains the rules and how the lottery works. People continue asking questions to clarify the processing rules.
06:21Copy video clip URL Footage of people (lottery hopefuls) dropping letters into various bins outside the post office.
07:03Copy video clip URL Interview with an Asian Indian immigration consultant from Virginia. He says he’s been studying the immigration system for eight years. He offers his understanding of how the lottery works and what mail qualifies and is disqualified. “All the mail that has gone in last night is gone into trash.” All the various systems of postal regulations, consulting regulation, mail truck regulation and delivery systems are different. “The best way to beat the system is to analyze the system.” He addresses a crowd saying that it’s a waste to sit here and drop letters in the mail now. He says he charges clients $200 to analyze this system for them and mail their entry in giving them the bast chance to win. When a woman asks if he will share his analysis with the crowd the man responds, “Madam, it’s too late. The lottery is already in the mail.” You can drop your letters after 12 o’clock, not before. He says the State Department will start picking up the mail at eleven fifty five.
11:20Copy video clip URL Interview with Ann Ritter, an attorney from New York City. She is mailing letters for the lottery on behalf of her clients. She notes that tmany are entering 100 applications each. She shares her system for mailing: she spaces the mailing out every few hours.
14:51Copy video clip URL Interview with Kevin, an Englishman. He says he is mailing 10,000 applications from mail boxes around the US: Chicago, California, Texas, Miami, and surrounding areas around the post office here. “That’s how people do it. He talks about the inequality of the system. He thinks the rule should be one application per person. It would be more fair. A poor person can’t send in as many applications as a rich person.
16:37Copy video clip URL Kevin posts some of his letters.
16:55Copy video clip URL A postal worker addresses the crowd. “Twelve-oh-one means nothing.” The Asian Indian immigration consultant from Virginia notes that his earlier opinion has been proven wrong by the postal worker. He says he mailed all his client’s applications through the regular mail already. He’s mailed nothing here today. The crowd gets ready to mail their letters.
18:43Copy video clip URL An Eastern European group talks amongst themselves.
19:46Copy video clip URL A man from England lays on the lawn addressing all of his applications. “I’ve done about 400 already. I’m doing this in order to get a green card.” He notes that he has been posting letters since yesterday at periodic intervals. He adds that he came down today with what he thought would be enough, but sees that others have at least 500 applications each.
21:49Copy video clip URL Interview with attorney Doug Ginsberg who stands outside his 29-foot RV in a rented parking spot at a nearby gas station. He notes he is here with a group of attorneys representing Visa applicants. The group is mailing letters to the lottery on their clients’ behalf. He says collectively they have between 100,000 and 200,000 applications. Many have already been mailed. Sixty per cent are mailed from here at Merrifield. He says there are three bin sites set up in the post office parking lot. He says we do a drop in as many different bins possible. We estimate how long they take to fill up, then we get another load and get back in line. He says the USPS has an auto drop at a different location that allows a person in a car to drive up to drop off mail. He says they have someone doing that for them. He says that yesterday at 7 o’clock was considered the magic hour for dropping off. He notes they’ve mailed a minimum of 100 applications per client, though he’s heard some applicants mail as many as 1,500 to, 2,000 applications.
25:39Copy video clip URL Inside the lawyer’s RV. Ginsberg shows all the bins taking up every bit of space in the camper. “This is our processing center,” he quips. He notes that playing in the background on TV while they processed all the mail was the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination.
26:36Copy video clip URL A newspaper article reporting on the lottery drop off at Merrifield. A Japanese man notes that he is helping Japanese clients come into the US. His system was to distribute all his letters at 7 o’clock yesterday. He notes that one after twelve am today will be too late. He shows bags and bags of all the letters he has yet to mail. He says some of his clients are sending 300 applications each, some only 100 each.
27:52Copy video clip URL People dropping their applications into various bags of other letters to prepare them for a drop off at the post office.
29:00Copy video clip URL A Polish woman is licking stamps and stamping her many envelopes. She says she is mailing 200 letters.
30:19Copy video clip URL An Irishman addressing his team about how the mail will be monitored so that all their drop offs have equal chance for success.
30:54Copy video clip URL An Argentine video crew interviewing the videographer. They talk about sharing footage. Videographer shoots a Virginia Lottery sign.
32:39Copy video clip URL END