- President Donald Trump bashed an immigration program supported by Sen. Chuck Schumer after Tuesday’s truck attack in New York City. Trump attributed the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery to Schumer, who authored the bill in part, and advocated a merit-based system long supported by Republicans. Trump has a history of politicizing some terrorist attacks and shootings.
President Donald Trump followed up on his push for changes to the US immigration system a day after what authorities called New York City’s deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11 with a tweet criticizing a US visa program.
“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning, a day after a driver steered a truck down a bike path in New York, killing eight and injuring 11 others.
The Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery provides as many as 50,000 visas each year to citizens of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the US.
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York was one of the program’s authors, and ABC News New York reported that Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, the suspect in the attack, entered the country from Uzbekistan on a diversity visa.
Conservatives have long opposed the diversity lottery, which remains one of the few ways citizens of countries that historically were denied legal immigration can legally enter the US.
Trump and conservatives argue that the US should instead focus solely on a merit-based system of immigration, whereby the US denies or grants entry to immigrants based on their ability to meet criteria independent of country of origin.
“We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems,” Trump said in another tweet Wednesday morning. “We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter).”
In August, Trump expressed support for the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, or Raise Act, a bill that would cut immigration by 50% over a decade and restrict immigration to wealthier applicants with greater levels of education.
“The reforms in the RAISE Act will help ensure that newcomers to our wonderful country will be assimilated, will succeed, and will achieve the American Dream,” Trump said in an announcement at the time.
In a third tweet Wednesday morning, Trump quoted former US intelligence officer Tony Schafer, who had just appeared on “Fox & Friends” criticizing Schumer’s immigration policies. “We will stop this craziness!” Trump added.
Schumer responded in a statement Wednesday that “immigration is good for America,” and he said Trump was “politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy.”
Though authorities were quick to say they were investigating Tuesday’s carnage as a terrorist attack, Trump has been criticized in the past for calling for tightened immigration or other antiterrorism measures after acts of violence even before authorities have identified motives.