President Trump said Wednesday he intends to terminate the Diversity Visa Lottery that the New York terrorism suspect used to enter the U.S., and called for swifter punishment for the “animals” who carry out such attacks.
“Send him to Gitmo,” Mr. Trump said of Islamist terrorism suspect Sayfullo Saipov, accused of killing eight people with a truck in Manhattan. “That was a horrible event. We have to stop it and we have to stop it cold.”
Addressing the first major Islamist attack in the U.S. of his presidency, Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House that he’ll ask Congress to end the visa program under which Mr. Saipov came to the U.S. in 2010 from Uzbekistan.
“I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program,” Mr. Trump said. “I am going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program. Diversity lottery — it sounds nice, it’s not nice. It hasn’t been good. We’ve been against it.”
The president said Democrats who are beholden to political correctness have been blocking proposals for tougher immigration standards, such as ending “chain migration” in which one immigrant is allowed to bring numerous relatives to the U.S. later.
“We have to get much tougher, we have to get much smarter and we have to get much less politically correct,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re so politically correct that we’re afraid to do anything. There are bills already about ending chain migration. We’re being stopped by Democrats because they’re obstructionists. Honestly, they don’t want to do what’s right for our country. We need strength, we need resolve.”
Mr. Trump criticized the visa program, saying it allowed Mr. Saipov, who was granted legal permanent residency, to bring up to 23 relatives to America. He said family members of Mr. Saipov could represent a threat, and said Democrats have blocked his efforts to put a merit-based visa program in place.
“This man that came in, or whatever you want to call him, brought in with him other people,” the president said. “That’s not acceptable. We want to get rid of chain migration, and we’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”
Police said Mr. Saipov shouted “God is Great” in Arabic during the attack as he drove a rented truck on a bike path in lower Manhattan, killing at least eight people and injuring a dozen others. He left a note saying he was inspired by the Islamic State.
A police officer shot Mr. Saipov, who is recovering in a New York hospital.
Speaking in even sterner terms than usual about terrorism, Mr. Trump said the U.S. and its western allies have been treating terrorist suspects too nicely in the justice system.
“We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now,” Mr. Trump said. “They’ll go through court for years, and at the end, who knows what happens. We need quick justice and we need strong justice, much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. What we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock. No wonder so much of this stuff takes place.”
Mr. Trump’s comment about sending Saipov to the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility in Cuba was in response to a reporter’s question. Former President Barack Obama tried but failed to close the prison; Mr. Trump campaigned on keeping it open and sending more terrorists there.”I would certainly considering that — sending him to Gitmo,” Mr. Trump said.
Retired Gen. Charles Krulak, former Marine Corps commandant, was among those panning the suggestion.
“If the president truly wants ‘quick justice’ and ‘strong justice,’ he should never consider designating this suspect as an ‘enemy combatant’ or sending him to Guantanamo Bay,” Mr. Krulak said in a statement issued through Human Rights First. “Federal courts have a track record of fairly and expeditiously dealing with terrorism suspects, having handled more than six hundred cases since 9/11. The criminal justice process has enabled our government to gather timely, actionable intelligence to drive our counterterrorism efforts.”
Mr. Krulak said designating Mr. Saipov as an ‘enemy combatant’ “does not make America safer.”
“On the contrary: it legitimizes individuals who are nothing more than thugs and criminals by branding them as the warriors they wish to be,” he said.
Mr. Trump said Islamist terrorists are taking advantage of the diversity visa lottery.
“We don’t want lotteries where the wrong people are in the lottery. And guess what? Who are the suckers who get those people?” the president asked. “We want a merit-based system. And we don’t want chain migration where somebody like him will ultimately be allowed to bring in many many members of his family.”