Nov 1, 2017 - Politics & Policy

Trump blames Schumer-proposed immigration program for NYC attack

President Trump called for immigration reform on Twitter this morning by stating that Sayfullo Saipov, the alleged New York City attacker, entered the United States via the Diversity Visa Lottery program, calling the program a "Chuck Schumer beauty." Schumer hit back at POTUS, accusing him of continually "politicizing and dividing America" during times of national tragedy.

The problem: We don't know yet if Trump's tweet can be taken as confirmation of Saipov's immigration status. The Diversity Visa Lottery tidbit about Saipov first came up in an unconfirmed local ABC7 report, which was seized on by right-wing outlets like Breitbart and Blunt Force Truth as well as former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka — seemingly to connect Schumer's prior immigration work to yesterday's deadly attack.

The details about the Diversity Visa Program

How it works, per a Washington Post report on the program:

  • The program, which took effect in 1995, was designed to increase American immigration diversity by offering 50,000 visas to "low-admission" countries via a lottery.
  • Applicants to the program must have at least a high school education or two years of formal job training.
  • Most people who enter the United States under the program do so from African countries. Saipov reportedly hailed from Uzbekistan.

How it passed:

  • The measure that eventually became the Diversity Visa Program was indeed proposed by then-Rep. Chuck Schumer.
  • It was swept into a larger immigration reform package that passed both houses of Congress with bipartisan votes — including an 89-8 vote in the Senate — and was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

Worth noting: A 2007 study from the Government Accountability Office stated that there was "no documented evidence" that anyone admitted under the Diversity Visa Program posed a terrorist threat, though it did highlight that the program was susceptible to fraud, which might allow terrorists to enter.

And now, this: Sen. Jeff Flake, who was a member of the immigration Gang of 8 along with Schumer, reminded Trump that their 2013 attempt to reform the nation's immigration system would have done away with the Diversity Visa Program:

Schumer's full response

"I have always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America. President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution — anti-terrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.
I'm calling on the President to immediately rescind his proposed cuts to this vital anti-terrorism funding."

More tweets from Trump

In response to a Fox & Friends segment on the topic, soon after his initial tweet:

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