The suspect in Tuesday’s New York City terrorist attack is an immigrant who came to the U.S. through the Diversity Visa Lottery, a controversial program that since 1990 has doled out pathways to citizenship in the U.S. based literally on luck of the draw.
Republican leaders have long tried to ax the diversity lottery, pushing to end it in immigration bills for the past decade. Plans have cleared both chambers of Congress separately, but never at the same time.
But with the news this week, GOP leaders renewed their call.
“Tragically, we have witnessed yet again that the visa lottery poses a threat to the safety of our citizens and the security of our nation,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, demanded answers on the program and on suspect Sayfullo Saipov’s immigration history.
Mr. Saipov was from Uzbekistan and entered the U.S. on a diversity visa in 2010, Mr. Grassley said. The diversity visa gave him a path to permanent legal residency, which is the key step on the way to full citizenship.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it has never had any contact with Mr. Saipov before.
At a news conference Wednesday on the attack, New York politicians said the incident shouldn’t be politicized.
“I don’t think anyone should be politicizing this tragedy at this moment in time. I think every focus should be on those who lives were lost, their families, on the work we have to do in this investigation,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
• Andrea Noble contributed to this story.