President Trump slammed an immigration program Wednesday that he claims admitted the suspect responsible for the attack in New York City.
“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based,” Mr. Trump tweeted, referring to the New York Democratic senator.
Mr. Trump was reacting to the attack in New York City on Tuesday that occurred in Lower Manhattan. A man drove a rental truck down a bike path, got out of the vehicle, and displayed a paintball gun and a pellet gun before being shot by police. Eight people have died while another 11 recover from injuries.
The suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, shouted “God is Great” in Arabic during the attack, and a note reading “ISIS lives forever” was found in the truck he was driving, according to an NBC News report.
“We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter). @foxandfriends,” Mr. Trump added, with a mention of Fox News’ morning show “Fox & Friends.”
” ‘Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems’ said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness! @foxandfriends” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Mr. Schumer pushed back in a statement Wednesday, saying cuts to the anti-terrorism forces in the latest budget should be reversed.
“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,” Mr. Schumer said.
He also addressed the matter on the Senate floor again calling on the president to “restore these funds.”
“Instead of dividing, instead of politicizing, do something real, Mr. President,” Mr. Schumer said.
Numerous other lawmakers, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, called out Mr. Trump for politicizing the tragedy, saying that his reaction was inappropriate so soon after the deadliest terror attack in New York since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.
Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, said Mr. Trump was incorrect about his line of facts concerning the current immigration system.
“Actually, the Gang of 8, including @SenSchumer, did away with the Diversity Visa Program as part of broader reforms. I know, I was there,” Mr. Flake tweeted.
Rep. Peter King, New York Republican, defended the lottery program saying many have gone on to become citizens through the system.
“To be honest with you, I’ve known a number of people in New York who come in under the lottery system. They’ve made outstanding contributions. They’ve become citizens,” Mr. King said on Fox Business.
Mr. Trump and Republican lawmakers have advocated for a merit-based immigration system that would give priority to those with a higher education, or who already speak English when trying to enter the U.S.
The current Diversity Immigrant Visa is a lottery system that gives 50,000 permanent resident visas each year with the goal of diversifying the population. The system typically picks applicants from countries with lower immigration rates, a point that Mr. Schumer proposed when he was a member of the House in the 1990s when this law was drafted.
It has not been confirmed that Saipov came into the U.S. through the lottery visa program. The New York Times reported Tuesday that he did have a green card, but it was unclear if he obtained it through the lottery system.